Batman The Killing Joke

 

The Joker

Today, Folks, I want to give you a taste of that comic book. Why, you might ask? I am sure you already know the answer. I’ll give it to you anyway. It is because Todd Philipps’ latest movie ‘Joker’ is out and, of course, because I am fascinated by this villain.

I must confess that it is also because I absolutely adore Alan Moore, the author of, inter alias, Watchmen, V for Vendetta and From Hell.

Batman vs The Joker

So, Folks, of course I am well aware that Batman turns 80 this year, but who is he without his foes? You know that I have a fascination for villains, don’t you?

The Joker

BUY HERE BATMAN THE KILLING JOKE

Well, then you must also know that when it comes to The Joker, I have a soft heart. Yes, I realize that this is not rational at all. Or is it? C’mon, we are not talking about reality here. We are talking about comics – where everything is allowed!

In Batman The Killing Joke, we get to know The Joker better. Or at least, another version of him. Who cares? Each super hero or super heroine is regularly submitted to a reboot, so why not a super villain?

What do we actually know about The Joker? Well, up to this point, not much actually. All know about him is that he spent some time in Arkham Asylum. This is where Batman thinks he is going to meet him at the beginning of the comic book.

But, as The Joker is a cunning rascal, he has already escaped from the asylum. Instead of The Joker, we see a bit of Two-Faces, aka Harvey Dent, whom you could confuse with The Joker, since his hair is also green. But his name is written on his door cell.

As a result of the disappearance of The Joker, Batman is on the hunt. He has received a playing card announcing the return of The Joker’s crime spell. Throughout the whole graphic novel, his real name remains unknown to the reader.

The comic is cleverly designed in such a way, that when The Joker casts his mind back to his past – a time that he certainly does not think of fondly. In fact for him, thinking of the past makes him tense.

 

The Joker and His Wife

 

As a defense mechanism he uses a lot of puns and sarcasm, notably during a wonderful monologue where he gives a psychoanalytical lecture to Jim Gordon. In order to convince the reader that we are taking a look at old pictures, sepia (color) is brilliantly used in the comic.

One of these flash-backs enlightens us on the physical transformation of The Joker. The reason as to why his hair is green, why his skin is blindingly white and why he has bloody lips.

Alan Moore’s brilliant vision of The Joker’s origin has been referenced by many authors.

Some Chronology

Batman The Killing Joke was written by author Alan Moore, and illustrated by Brian Bolland, both British gentlemen. It was issued by DC Comics back in 1988.

You are getting mad

The Joker character appeared in the first issue of the comic book telling the adventures of the bat-garbed vigilante, in April 1940, during the Second World War.

Originally, the flashbacks told by The Joker were meant to be in black and white, but ended up being in full colors.

Thankfully, in 2008, the story was reprinted by DC Comics in a deluxe hardcover edition, the one I read. The flashbacks wear now the colors they should have worn from the start. This choice of colors, in my opinion, serves three purposes.

The first, to differentiate the present story from the past life of The Joker, the second, to make the reader feel the gloomy side of the life The Joker used to live and third, to make the reader feel emotional towards The Joker, since the author’s point of view is that Batman and The Joker have a lot in common.

The Layout

The Deluxe edition of Batman The Killing Joke is covered in exclusive sleeve which covers the actual hard cover. The folded flexible cover – portfolio like- that covers the paperback illustrates a smiling Joker taking a picture with an argentic camera.

Batman The Killing Joke

The horror of the choice of this picture can only be understood while reading the comics.

Removing the sleeve, reveals a completely black design, which, quite frankly, is magnificent. If you look carefully, and glide your hands over the cover, you will feel and see that there is an image of Batman and the Joker fighting.

The Joker’s creepy laugh fills the cover too! Absolutely ingenious. If you turn the book over, you are presented with the Joker playing card. It does not end there. Hold the book up one way and you can see the Joker. Turn the book upside down and you will see Batman.

I would certainly have taken pictures for you, but unfortunately they would have done the book absolutely no justice at all. Instead, I chose to show you a picture of the Batmobile.

 

 

Women in Comics

The woman we are interested in here is Barbara Gordon, aka Oracle or Batgirl, whom I already mentioned briefly when I told you all about Poison Ivy. You could say she is a bombshell, as are quite all women in comics. That is a pity.

Do not misunderstand me. Looking at pin-ups is pure pleasure for anybody’s eyes, but sincerely, the way women are depicted in comic books needs a bit of a change.

Seriously, why is a super heroine half naked, why is she named after an existing male super hero and why, in a team of superheroes, is she outnumbered?

Anyway, I am not asking you to answer these questions, moreover since a change is already coming. Just take a look at Captain Marvel’s outfit. Having said that, you know that you can always share your thoughts with me, don’t you? The ‘Comments’ section is all yours.

So, our little Barbara makes a short but noticeable appearance in Batman The Killing Joke. She gets shot in the belly and that’s it. Thank you very much for passing by, this is a men’s world, so see you on the other side.

 

Barbara Gordon

 

This is typical, in American comic books. The woman is sexy, madly in love with someone, whether a super hero or a super villain, cries a lot, and is supposed to be able to defend herself, wearing a bra and a thong.

This is even worse here, as, as I said, good old Barbara is shot and humiliated in the 6th frame where she appears. Not a lot, eh?

The only thing that I could tell myself in order to justify this action coming directly from author Alan Moore, is that hurting a daughter is the best way to affect the father, Gotham City police commissioner James Gordon.

The Joker then kidnaps Barbara’s father, but before, Barbara asked him a question: ‘why are you doing this‘? To which the Joker answered: ‘to prove a point‘. Of course, the rest of the story will lead us to understand which point he is trying to prove. Is he making it? That is another issue, if you ask me.

The Ending

Could it be that the ending is the explanation of the title of Batman The Killing Joke? Or at least, one explanation? Look, I am not going to spoil anything here, so rest assured, you can keep reading.

I don’t understand the ending. It is an open ending, which I hate. As much as I like to use my imagination, I don’t want to use it when I read the work of others. It brings us back to the point The Joker wants to make. You will see for yourself. No spoiler here, I promised.

Another particularity of this graphic novel is that the afterword of Brian Bolland is followed by another short Batman story, written and illustrated by Brian and titled ‘An Innocent Guy’. I am not going to reveal to you anything about this story, except that it is about the perfect crime.

 

Bad Thing

 

I enjoyed reading this comic book, especially because of the way it is written and drawn. The flashback pages are beautiful, the pain and suffering of The Joker before he actually becomes the Joker is palpable, and this is a universal story.

The book shows us that any human being who goes through a lot of pain can end up being whether Batman or The Joker. It gives a reason: one bad day.

There is some kind of warning at the back of the sleeve, which says that the book is suggested for mature readers. Look, I think a 10-year-old can read it. If she/he has questions, an adult will be more than equipped to provide answers and these questions.

An older teenager might have questions on mental illness, though. The discussion might be a bit more complicated, but your message should be that mental illness does not automatically lead to crime.

I will leave it at that. Please have a read of this graphic novel and let me know how it ends, according to your own imagination. See you soon. Anso

14 thoughts on “Batman The Killing Joke”

  1. Hello again!  I absolutely love the character of the Joker.  He seems like such a complex character.  Your description of the Deluxe version of the comic sounds absolutely stunning.  I love the fact that when you remove the ‘sleeve’ a whole dark side is revealed on both the front and the back hard cover!  I will definitely be adding this to my collection!

    As for the female characters in comics (and movies) – I tend to agree with you.  Hopefully that will constantly be “reviewed” and continued to be more empowered as time progresses. 

    I am going to purchase Batman The Killing and I will let you know what I think of the ending!

    Great review!  See you soon again

    1. Hello! Yes, please, let me know, as this ending can be seen as an enigma, which is by the way the signature of another Batman’s enemy, namely, The Riddler. Glad you liked my article. Thank you very much. Anso

  2. Wow! Finally we get to learn fully about The Joker. Left to me, Joker has always been the major reason I love the Batman series. Though he is villainous to all but I learnt a lot through his words and they are really of greater significance. Thanks so much for writing about this comic book. I am actually planning to read it soon. Thanks for giving a little information to it and what I should expect too.

    1. You’re welcome, Rodarrick. My first encounter with The Joker was in the first Tim Burton’s Batman movie, when he was impersonated by Jack Nicholson. I fell in love! I hope you will enjoy the graphic novel. If not, please share your comments. If yes, please also share your opinion on it. Anso

  3. I am more of a movie person than a comic person but this one looks like a must go for me. I thought there was some superman stuff from seeing the picture up this post but it’s still very nice to learn about the Batman’s quest with the joker and then there’s Batgirl here too in this story. You’ve given some spoilers though. LOL.I’d grab one of the comics. Thanks for the insight.

  4. Thank you for this interesting post. I myself can’t wait to see the new Joker starring Joaquin Phoenix. I was impressed by just looking at the trailers. Loved the fact that they showcased the evolution of Joker and the way this character evolved into what he evolved in the movie. We also get to see the other side of the Joker in Batman The Killing Joke.
    Lovely website by the way.

    1. Thanks a lot Strahinja for this nice comment. I will definitely watch the movie, which I am sure, in some way, is based on Batman The Killing Joke. Anso

  5. The Batman Killing joke has been regarded as a classic by many comic book fans due to its storyline, which revealed a little about the past of The Joker. The clown prince of Gotham is a favorite comic book character of mine and it was fun getting to unravel a little of the mystery of his origin and his descent into madness. Alan Moore did a very fine job with the story, which I feel that the animated movie version didn’t do much justice to. 

    1. Hello Amanda. I’ve never seen the movie based on Batman The Killing Joke, with Mark Hamill. I will make sure to do that soon and I shall revert to you with my thoughts on it. Thank you for your comment. Anso

  6. Nice to see that you can give a summary of this book the batman the killing joke. I don’t read so much of DC comics but i wouldn’t mind this one at all seeing how the storyline went. To be very honest, I do not like the fact the story is open-ended. I do not like it when there are objective stories like this. It’s all cool though. I’d like a deep into the lunatic and the rich man’s story.

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