Sean Gordon Murphy’s Batman: White Knight series has easily become one of the most popular comic book incarnations of the Dark Knight in recent years. The original series features a twisted version of Gotham City where a reformed (supposedly) Joker turns Gotham against the Dark Knight. That series has since spawned a direct sequel, Batman: Curse of the White Knight, as well as multiple spinoffs. And now DC is gearing up for the next chapter in the White Knight Saga.
IGN can exclusively reveal the first details of Batman: Beyond the White Knight. As the title suggests, this latest sequel takes inspiration from the Batman Beyond animated series and shifts the timeline to the future. Ten years after the events of The Curse of the White Knight, middle-aged Bruce Wayne is locked in prison while Derek Powers uses Wayne’s fortune to turn the city into Neo-Gotham. When a brand new Batman arrives at the scene, Bruce has no choice but to team up with his former sidekick Jason Todd to destroy his legacy once and for all.
Take a closer look at Beyond the White Knight in the slideshow gallery below, then read on to find out more about how this sequel honors and subverts the world of Batman Beyond:
Revisiting Batman Beyond
Murphy’s previous work has always shown a strong influence of Batman: The Animated Series, so it’s no surprise that he turns to the futuristic Batman Beyond setting for this latest sequel. However, fans shouldn’t expect a straightforward retelling of Beyond’s story. This series also draws on Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns and a number of non-Batman sci-fi tales for good measure.
“This series is designed to tick all the boxes of what readers love about Batman Beyond,” Murphy told IGN. “But it also plays out with some pieces in different ways, reinventing some of the characters and taking a different approach to certain points of the plot. The idea is to make is unique but familiar. Not only are there influences from the Dark Knight in there, but also Blade Runner (duh), Spider Man 2099, Ghost in the Shell and a dozen other things. “
While it might seem bizarre to think that Gotham City could transform from a grungy hellish cityscape to a futuristic Neo-Gotham in the span of a single decade, Murphy hints that the sudden transformation is a major part of the plot of this series.
“When I was a kid watching Batman Beyond, I was like, ‘How did Gotham evolved so much during Bruce’s lifetime, from black and white TVs to flying cars? “Even if you’re not really supposed to ask things like that, it’s a White Knight tradition to use ‘real-world thinking’ to enhance Batman’s fictional world, making it more believable,” said Murphy. “In this case, Gotham is able to evolve into Neo-Gotham quite quickly because Bruce gave his fortune at the end of the last tome. And this influx of money (resources, social programs, etc.) changes everything. But not. in as he hoped. ”
Bruce Wayne vs. Batman
In classic Batman Beyond mythology, an old Bruce Wayne sets out to guide Terry McGinnis and make sure his town will always have a Batman. But here it looks like Bruce has a very different motivation. He’s ended his career as Batman for a reason, and he doesn’t approve of upstart Terry parading around Gotham in a stolen Batsuit. It also doesn’t support Dick Grayson’s mission to remake Batman as the law-abiding tool of the GCPD. Bruce’s goal in Beyond the White Knight is nothing less than ridding Gotham of Batman for good.
“There’s a civil war brewing in Neo-Gotham, and it’s around this same issue,” Murphy says. “On the one hand you have Dick Grayson leading the GTO in a bunch of tanks, claiming that crime is zero and things have never been safer. Across from him is Barbara Gordon leading the GCPD, claiming that the GTO has turned the city into an inhumane police state which has caused higher tax rates on homelessness, suicide and depression. “
Murphy continues, “Not only does Bruce see his incarceration as a way to pay for his sins, but it’s also a chance for Gotham to go beyond Batman. But when he sees the effect that Batman’s legacy still has on everyone, Bruce has no choice but to escape and try to work things out. Not only is he there to stop Dick and the GTO, but to bring down Terry in a stolen Beyond costume. “
Powers itself complicates matters further, a character Murphy believes to be the only logical choice of villain for a Batman Beyond-inspired sequel.
“It wouldn’t be a Beyond book without Derek Powers in the story, and without him having a secret that leads to the death of Terry’s father,” said Murphy. “But in order to improve it a bit, I added a compelling story that got him to work with Thomas Wayne’s company under Mr. Freeze’s tutelage. There is also a personal grudge between him and Batman, but I’m not going to spoil it here. “
And if all that wasn’t enough for the chaos, the series also continues the story of Harley Quinn, who is now the mother of twins whose father is a certain Clown Prince of Crime.
“My wife Katana Collins wrote a 6 issue book called Batman White Knight Presents: Harley Quinn with Matteo Scalera last year, and one of my goals was to continue this story in Beyond,” says Murphy. “Her twins (and the Joker’s) are tweens now, and they’re starting to show their true colors. While Bryce seems to have inherited all the good things from her and Jack Napier, Jackie becomes obsessed with the Joker. Jackie discovers a big secret about her mother and Bruce, she decides to run away. Will Bruce be able to find her? And what does Powers want from her? ”
The future of the white knight universe
Even a guy like Bruce Wayne is going to have a hard time declaring war on two different batmen and Derek Powers, so he’s going to need allies. In this case, he returns to the beginning to team up with the very first Robin. Not Dick Grayson, but Jason Todd. In fact, Jason’s role in this story is so crucial that he’ll be getting his own two-issue spinoff book later in 2022.
“In this universe, Jason Todd was the first Robin,” reveals Murphy. “It started out as a timeline error in volume 1 (oops), but because it’s too late to go back and fix it, I decided to adopt it to move forward. Jason is playing. a huge role in this series – not only is he and Bruce able to fix things, but we’ll even see him put on the Red Hood.There is also a 2-part spin-off called White Knight: Jason Todd which will be released later. in the year that will introduce a new Robin to the White Knight universe! So stay tuned. ”
And if White Knight fans assume Beyond the White Knight is ending a planned story trilogy, they are wrong. Murphy tells IGN he has “at least” one more direct sequel planned, with other possible spinoffs as well. This twisted vision of Gotham City is far from over.
Batman: Beyond the White Knight # 1 will be released in print and digital on March 29, 2022. Until then, review IGN’s Top 25 Batman Graphic Novels.
Jesse is a mild-mannered writer for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by follow @jschedeen on Twitter.