The other day the new comic book shop opened in town, and I came across this masterpiece of Batman. It influenced both Tim Burton’s “Batman” and Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight”, and is arguably one of the best-known and best-told Joker stories ever told. This is, of course, Batman: The Killing Joke. This controversial tail, crafted in 1983 by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland, this comic is about The Joker trying to prove his point that, “All it takes is one bad day to reduce the sanest man alive to lunacy”.
As can be assumed, spoilers ahead.
Before we start, I have to say, I love this story. White it’s still not my favorite Batman (that has to go to another Moore title, “The Dark Knight Returns”), but it’s definitely up there. I’ve been hearing about this title for years, and it definitely lived up to its expectations.
First of all, I like how it explored the relationship between Joker and Batman. That first scene of Batman talking to the Joker impersonator seemed sincere. He wanted to ease his conscience as much as he could for when that day came when they killed each other. The scene near the end, at the end of the Joker fight, where he tried to reason with Joker, was just as sincere, even after the ghastly events that took place throughout the novel. Paralyzing Barbara, torturing Jim, everything… even after all that, he was still willing to try to reason with him. Joker himself actually considers the offer – you can see it on his face before he turns down the offer, saying, “It’s too late for that. It’s far too late.”
Second, how grotesque the Joker is here. I can’t even describe the kinds of things he does, both with the Commissioner as well as with Barb. The evil dwarves were just horrendous, and the roller coaster, which was hinted at while Joker bought the property, lived up to its expectations. And the song that Joker sings while Jim’s on it fits the character so well, especially considering what is happening to Jim at the time. I can’t wait to see that scene in the animated movie that’s coming out next year.
Third, I enjoyed the possible Joker origin. Bolland admitted that he was skeptical about including it, but I feel it was done well, especially with the use of red. The only color you could see, leading up to him becoming the Red Hood, and ending, of course, with the Joker reveal, probably the greatest image I’ve ever seen of him. Bleeding from the eyes, dripping with acid, and that grin tells you that he’d just snapped. When he first realized it himself.
Overall his characterization was great here, not just in the backstory. His utter confusion at why Batman doesn’t “see the funny side”. His conviction in his belief of one bad day. His smugness when talking to Gordon. Even without knowing anything about the character, after reading this you’ll know all you need to about him.
Y’know, it’s funny. This book reminds me of a joke… see, there were these two guys in a lunatic asylum…