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Katana Collins And Clay McCormack Talk Batman: White Knight Presents - Generation Joker - Exclusive Interview

Contains spoilers for "Batman: White Knight Presents – Generation Joker" #1 by DC Comics

The Murphyverse continues to expand as a new "Batman: White Knight Presents – Generation Joker" #1 miniseries from DC Comics will take the focus of the multi-titled universe to the children of the former Joker. In the miniseries from Katana Collins, Sean Murphy, Clay McCormack, Mirka Andolfo, and Alejandro Sánchez, Jackie and Bryce Napier are set to steal the Batmobile and follow a hologram of their late father to discover more about his past. Jack Napier (the Joker's real name) and Harley Quinn's children will learn more about their dead father and his time as the Joker as they struggle with their own dark destinies.

Looper got the chance to speak with Collins and McCormack about writing the next chapter of Murphy's "White Knight" universe, and we discussed how the project came to be, their past experiences working in the growing universe, the Joker's children meeting their father in one of his more unusual forms, and what's in store for Harley Quinn, Batman, and newer faces to the alternate world story.

How Batman: White Knight Presents - Generation Joker came to be

You both have experience writing in this universe. What was it like to build on it and collaborate again with Sean Murphy on the project?

Clay McCormack: It was a lot of fun because this story is allowing us to expand the world out a little bit more past where things were left at the end of "Beyond the White Knight," where we are introducing some new characters that were only teased a little bit in Sean's book. He had created this dynamic with the idea of the Joker hologram getting to know his kids, which was intriguing. That was attractive to both Collins and me as far as the story we could jump into.

Katana Collins: Absolutely. I've been out of the "White Knight" world a little longer than Clay. He's been in it more recently than I am, but the last time I got to experience Jackie and Bryce, they were toddlers. It feels like coming full circle, because in a lot of ways, I feel like they are my babies. Clay hit the nail on the head with exploring that relationship between them and their father — [it] really connected to all of us.

McCormack: It must be like if you don't see your nieces and nephews for a couple of months, and all of a sudden, they've shot right up.

Collins: 10 years. 10 years' worth of growth.

The Joker's children obviously play a big role in this book. What was it like to take them on a road trip with their former villain dad and Batman super fan, and build on that specific relationship?

McCormack: It was an interesting dynamic to get into. Jackie and Bryce have a lot of resentment toward their father because he was not there, and he has quite a reputation that has overshadowed their lives, even though he was dead before they were born. There's a lot of issues that the three of them have to work through ... As most families go, I would say it goes very smoothly, wouldn't you?

Collins: I don't think this is a spoiler, because at this point, I assume people have read "Beyond the White Knight." Jackie has discovered that it was, in fact, their mother who killed their father, but it's that legacy that he has left hanging over their heads that they're most resentful about, and how the stigma of being Joker's kids means that they're somehow inherently bad or inherently going to be villains themselves. [There's this] self-journey that they're going on to discover who they each really are apart from being the Joker's kids or Harley's kids.

McCormack: Part of the thing that happens throughout the series is Jack is trying to show his kids who he is beyond being the Joker. But what they all come to realize is that in doing that, you have to first reckon with the fact that he was the Joker and all of the legacy that brings with it — positive and negative, depending on how you look at the Joker and what he's done over the years.

Are the Joker's children destined to become him?

The two children fighting that future is an interesting hook of this book, especially considering that Jackie is hinted at as falling down that path in the "Beyond" book ... Are they destined to become a Joker, or is the Joker ... ? It's not the Joker anymore, so they're in a very interesting situation.

Collins: Are they destined to be the Joker? The key component of the story is that they feel they are destined to become the Joker, and whether or not that's truth or fiction that they've been telling themselves or that the world has been telling them, that is the thing that they're out to figure out and discover. Jackie is on this chaotic path, because all teenagers go through that rebellious phase — or at least many of them do — and ... in her head, she's saying, "You all think I'm going to be the Joker? Fine. I'll be the Joker." Is it a self-fulfilling prophecy or fate? Who knows?

McCormack: There's a certain "ghost of Christmas future" element to what's going on and what they are learning about their father and who their father was and what might lay ahead for them if they decide to travel down that road. Ultimately, that's what it comes down to. Is it a choice or is it destiny? It might differ between the two of them, which one they think it actually is.

Jack Napier has a continued presence in this book, but in a very unique way. Where does "White Knight" find him, and how are his kids reacting to not only learning about this fail-safe version of Jack but him taking them through his past?

McCormack: They're both very excited to find out that they have the opportunity to meet their father. They're probably confused to a certain extent about how that's possible, but it's the future, so anything can happen as long as there's the right technology to do it.

Collins: Jackie, in "Beyond," got to experience her father — at least at the end there — whereas Bryce was the one who didn't get any interaction with him. For him, [it's] that moment of, "Oh my God. Dad's here in front of me, and we get to go on a road trip?" Especially for Bryce, who didn't have any moment with his father during the previous part, that's a big moment and epiphany. For Jackie as well — her moments with her dad were very fleeting during "Beyond."

McCormack: What's interesting between the two of them is [that] Bryce has a bit more ... His glasses are a little bit more rose-colored than Jackie's are, because Jackie does have a little bit more direct experience with dealing with the surrounding environment of the Joker and the legacy of their father, to a certain extent. She's coming into the story a little hotter than Bryce.

Harley Quinn's role

Harley Quinn seems caught between her past, present, and future. Then she finds out about this impromptu road trip from her children. For someone who's dealt with the Joker and Jack and seen every side of him, what's her reaction to everything that's unfolding in this book?

Collins: It's funny. We took her on a similar journey in the "White Knight" Harley book where she's ... [There's] that self-discovery of, "Who am I if I'm not a villain, and who am I besides a mom?" But especially right now, she feels lost in having to deal with these teenagers. She's got one kid, which is Bryce, who seems to do everything right. He is the A-plus student, he listens to her when she says to go to bed, he gets his homework done ... Then there's Jackie, who runs away from home and is the one who seems to be falling down this darker path. I think [Harley] is — beneath it all — terrified, probably like many parents are, that they're somehow messing it all up or not doing everything they could do, even when they're working themselves to the bone to be the best parent they can be.

McCormack: She's trying to spin a lot of plates at once in this story. She's starting to fray a bit at the edges from being pulled in multiple directions with having to find her kids, and then their father is now an electronic ghost who's stolen a car, and the FBI is involved, and Batman's out there somewhere, and there's other people involved that are coming in. She's being pulled in a lot of different directions ... Her goal is, "I need to get these kids back," so she's trying to push through everything — all of that other noise — to get back to her family.

Collins: No one says no to Harley Quinn, so the moment the FBI is like, "You can't come" — yeah, she's not going to listen to that.

Speaking of the FBI and Batman, we last saw Batman joining Diana Prince and John Stewart in "Beyond" on the search for a potential threat of Superman.

McCormack: It does continue that story. That's probably about [what] we could say there.

Collins: It's a parallel to that story, so you get glimpses of what's happening with good old Bats. You also see him taking part in trying to find what are his kids too, essentially his stepchildren. There are threads that are woven between the two stories that will be unveiled later, for sure.

McCormack: On the surface, it might not seem like they are connected, but when you get to the end, you'll see how connected they actually are.

Can we expect to see more heroes who have not played major parts in the "White Knight" universe appear in this series?

Collins: Yes.

McCormack: There are some other familiar faces that might not be exactly the way you remember seeing them, but they'll be familiar to you.

Working with Mirka Andolfo

What was it like to work with Mirka Andolfo on this project? The artwork captures the unique style of the "White Knight" universe that Sean Murphy has established, but it does something unique with it.

Collins: Mirka's great. She's such a superstar in the industry, and she has the style that lends itself to tech and futuristic cyber while managing to also be adorable at the same time. As someone who's not an artist at all in that visual way, it's cool to see and fascinating to watch. Her style is very different than Sean's or Matteo [Scalera]'s or Klaus Janson's, who've done other "White Knight" books, but that digital, fractional feeling that this book has is a credit to the art that she brings to the table.

McCormack: Her work is beautiful, and she's got such great character designs as well. We tasked her with redesigning a handful of characters for this, and she knocked it out of the park, especially with ... I can't remember who shows up in the first issue, but there are some characters that are legacy-type characters that she did a total update on that were gorgeous updates.

What do you hope readers get from this book?

Collins: I want readers to feel the heart of it, feel the heart that beats below the surface of everything Joker and Harley have ever done, and how that love can morph and change but still exist.

McCormack: I hope they have a great time. The energy that we've been trying to bring to this is the energy of ... Two kids just stole a Batmobile, and [we're] constantly throwing these obstacles in their way that's this big rollercoaster for these kids, on top of all of the emotional stuff that's underpinning everything. I hope everybody has a really fun time with it.

Readers can see the adventures of Jack Napier, the Joker's children, Harley Quinn, and more, when "Batman: White Knight Presents – Generation Joker" #1 by DC Comics arrives in comic book stores on May 9, 2023. The final order cutoff for the issue is Sunday, April 9.

This interview was edited for clarity.