One day, a young child by the name of Lews Bayard, the son of an Arkham Asylum guard, attends work with his father, as there is no one to look after him. Unfortunately, a riot starts, and Lewis' father is murdered by Doctor Phosphorus, leaving two hand prints on his back that looked like angel wings... Years later, shortly after the formation of Batman Incorporated, White Knight shows up in Gotham, taking control of it's citizens, by making them dress as angels and jumping off buildings, committing suicide. The Dynamic Duo of Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne first learn of White Knight after an encounter with a possessed Man-Bat, warning them of the light.
White Knight was created by writer Peter Tomasi and artist Patrick Gleason during their first arc of Batman and Robin.
Major Story Arcs
Dark Knight vs. White Knight
One night in Gotham, the body of a man, dressed in angel wings falls to the ground in an apparent suicide. The next night, Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne are investigating the "suicide" and Dick finds a note written by the White Knight inside a stone gargoyle's mouth. Suddenly, they're attacked by Man-Bat, who is spitting out nonsense about trying to save his loved ones and avoiding the light. Man-Bat claims that he can hear the high pitch screaming of his children which would explain why he would be agitated by an unrelenting sound.
Batman clings to Man-Bat as they fly through Gotham. Dick tries to talk Langstrom down. Dick manages to guide Langstrom toward the window of a building and then smash through it. The Dynamic Duo are able to subdue Man-Bat as he continues to warn them by staying away from the light and to save his loved ones. All of sudden, thousands of white phosphorescent bats appear out of nowhere.
The bats then disperse, leaving Batman, Robin and Man-Bat covered in the same glowing liquid that the Dynamic Duo found on a dead man who had angel wings grafted to his back. After this shocking event, the Dynamic Duo discover a group of "angels" ready to commit suicide from an adjacent building. They notice in that group is Francine Langstrom, Man-Bat's wife, and her children. They also discover an explosive device fitted with a timer on Francine. The family jumps off the building but Dick and Damian manage to save the Langstroms while defusing the bomb in mid air.
After saving the Langstroms, the building that they jumped from begins to glow in blinding white light. The White Knight then makes his debut on the top of a building, claiming he will burn away the evil in the hearts of Gotham's populace with light. As the Langstroms make their escape from the chaos, Dick and Damian attempt to attack the mad man, bathed in white light, but he is able to escape when he blows an aqueduct which washes the duo away from him.
Back in the Batcave, Alfred, Dick and Damian discover that the White Knight uses Ketamine as a sedative on his victims which causes the hallucinations. They also determine that the White Knight uses ear buds on his victims to send subliminal messages which drive his victims to commit suicide. The reasoning behind White Knight's grafting of the wings to his victims' backs is simply to give his victims a divine send off from this world to next. This is perhaps ironic since suicide dictates that your eternal soul will burn in hell for the life you took but the White Knight's butchery ensures his victims that their eternal salvation will be in heaven.
The trio also deduces that the feathers on the victims' wings primarily come from peregrine falcons which could mean that the White Knight is a window washer. Gotham has recently become a breeding ground for these particular "birds of prey" and since most peregrine falcons kill pigeons to feed their young, window washers in Gotham must clean up the bloody mess afterwards. Meanwhile, Alfred informs the Duo them that the White Knight's first victim, has been identified as Douglas Zsasz, the brother of Victor Zsasz. The Dynamic Duo then figure that the White Knight's plan is to target the relatives of Arkham inmates.
Meanwhile, the White Knight is kneeling under a tree that is filled with hanging effigy tags that list Arkham inmates along with their family members. Douglas Zsasz's tag is shown as deceased while the Langstroms' tag is shown as unresolved. The White Knight swears to the tree as if it were his deity, that he will not fail again. The White Knight then sets his eyes on the Mad Hatter's effigy tag. The White Knight also proclaims that the tree needs to be refreshed with the blood of martyrs and that the sins of fathers and mothers wil be visited upon the all guilty parties.
Gordon later calls the Dynamic Duo to meet him at a crime scene. They enter a living room where a family of four hangs from the ceiling and they are dressed as angels just like the other victims. Gordon identifies the victims as the Randalls, but they were once the Tetchs according to municipal records. Batman informs Gordon that they must find everyone in Gotham that is related to anyone in Arkham before the White Knight finds them.
Fortunately, Alfred was successful by devising a jamming signal to stop any of White Knight's transmissions which saves several angels from commiting suicide while the Dynamic Duo save other falling angels by shooting grappling nets which suspends them in mid air. Afterwards, the Dynamic Duo receive a news feed stating that Arkham Asylum is under attack and is covered in a bright white light. Before the Dynamic Duo arrives, the White Knight walks down the main hall of Arkham where it holds its premiere inmates. The White Knight speaks to several of Batman's rogues while filling their cells with glowing white liquid.
Among the inmates, Jane Doe professes how she would like to wear White Knight's face. The White Knight also notices Joker showering in the glowing liquid and whistling. When the White Knight comes across Zsasz's cell, Zsasz screams out of anger saying that nobody kills his family except him. The White Knight brushes off Zsasz's rant and makes his way to Dr. Phosphorous, the monster that killed his father. All the White Knight wanted was to purify everyone by having them to fly into the light like his father did. When the Dynamic Duo appear, the White Knight becomes so startled that he shoots a bolt of energy at Zsasz's cell. Zsasz grabs a piece of glass from the cell wall and holds it at White Knight's throat until Damian disarms him with a batarang.
Dick tells Damian to find the flowing source of the glowing white liquid and shut it off while he contends with the White Knight. Damian agrees to Dick's order but after Dick left to find the White Knight, Damian decides to unleash his own bloody retribution on Zsasz. Damian remembers what Zsasz did to those runaway children when he put them through a series of games to the death. Damian didn't kill Zsasz but he did cut him up to the point where Zsasz was begging for death. Afterwards, Damian psychologically toys with Zsasz by asking the rest of Arkham's inmates if they wanted a turn at cutting up Zsasz. Damian also begins to wonder if he should just let the inmates drown and say to Dick that he tried.
Dick cuts off White Knight's escape to the roof by using an explosive device. The White Knight then tries to convince Dick that even though Batman represents the darkness, the White Knight is willing to let Batman join his crusade in making Gotham embrace the light. Dick refuses and White Knight shoots a glowing dart at Dick. As Dick kneels in pain, the White Knight approaches him and says that the symbols of darkness will be destroyed by the blinding light in order to give the people of Gotham hope. Dick gathers his strength and hits the White Knight's forehead with the ear-points off his cowl.
As the White Knight screams in agony, Dick cuts off the White Knight's power supply by using a batarang to sever the connection from White Knight's pseudo wings. Damian helps Dick to his feet and informs him that he saved the Arkham inmates but Damian also expresses how proud he is that Dick used an aggressive tactic to bring down the White Knight. When things began to settle down, Gordon, Batman and Robin watch as the White Knight is being escorted to his cell. They leave the White Knght alone as he tends to a bonsai tree (perhaps a gift from Poison Ivy). A guard shouts out to the inmates "Lights out" but the White Knight's cell remains phosphorescent as the White Knight attaches a small Batman and Robin insignia on the bonzai tree.