Top Batman Story – The Killing Joke

Batman, The Joker and the enigma that is Alan Moore three aspects that makes this story a must read for any comic book lover. Commonly recognised as the Jokers best story to date [Scott Snyder I’m sure hopes to change that soon with his upcoming Joker arc].  Originally Published in 1988 [I was one when this was first released. Just goes to show quality will endure.] it has remained in print since then. Although this is a one-shot [for those who aren’t sure what I mean by one-shot, it’s basically a stand alone story that begins and ends in one book.] it did affect the Batman’s continuity directly, when Joker decides to attack Barbara Gordon [Commissioner Gordon’s Daughter]. The result of this attack actually caused a lot of controversy back in the pixel loving eighties.


Lets just start with how much I love, love, love this story. It is a dark, twisted and enlightening tale that will have you engrossed to the end.  The framework for Moore’s tale has been done before, it’s your bog standard friend has been kidnapped, save him and put the bad guy back in the big house kind of feel about it, in fact in that way it’s very like a western it is the meat wrapped lovingly around the bones that makes this story truly great. So much can be taken from Moore’s literation of Batman.


The Joker’s main goal is to prove that life is random and unjust and is willing to torture you and break you mentally to prove his point. He would rather kill all your loved ones and see how you react than simply kill you. [Christopher Nolan said he was inspired by The Killing Joke for some of The Dark Knight]  Unfortunately for Jim Gordon it is his turn this time around.  My favourite thing about this one-shot is the nuggets we learn about the Batman and the Joker. Ultimately Joker is the ying to Batman’s yang, they are both tragic characters who have suffered from some kind of trauma. Bruce Wayne suffered a great tragedy at a tender age and later decides to avenge injustice for people who can not avenge it themselves. The Joker is different, we do see an origin story [which I hate, see below] but Joker serves as an unreliable narrator  “Sometimes I remember it one way, sometimes another . . . If I’m going to have a past, I prefer it to be multiple choice!”

Being over twenty years old I wasn’t expecting to find Brian Bolland’s artwork pleasing in anyway but I very much did. The emotion he captures in the faces, even the very eyes is astounding. In the deluxe version Bolland actually re-coloured the whole thing and tinkered with some artwork. Overall I’m glad he did, the original print was very colour heavy and had a cartoony simpsons feel to it which did nothing for the overall tone of the book.

The Killing Joke has the honour of having my single most favourite comic book page ever, I don’t want to spoil any story but I will say it’s the last page. [I actually made myself a poster of this very page] There is so much that comes out of that one page. Fear for Batman that he is aware he could have gone the other way, fear that one day he could go over the edge and the fear of failing.  He wants to think that you can come back from the dark depths of insanity. Fucking awesome, Mr Moore . . . cheers.


SHOCK, there is one minor gripe I have with this classic and that’s the Joker’s origin. It’s not something I felt was needed mainly because you are never going to have an origin story that fully befits the Joker. For me his origin story would have to be so dark and depraved, just as I’m writing this I’ve had another thought regarding the origin. Maybe the two crooks killed the Joker’s wife, maybe she’s not dead and it was her who told the crooks of the Jokers knowledge of the chemical plant while being slightly slutty. [See this story just feeds my mind]


“Don’t like it? I’m crazy for it.”


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