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Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore

Batman: The Killing Joke

by Alan Moore, Brian Bolland (Illustrator)

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2,203602,946 (4.03)43
  1. 20
    DC Universe: The Stories of Alan Moore by Alan Moore (artturnerjr)
    artturnerjr: DC UNIVERSE contains THE KILLING JOKE in its entirety, along with a bunch of other great DC stories by Alan Moore. It's also only about 2 bucks more than the KILLING JOKE hardcover.
  2. 10
    Cover Story: The DC Comics Art of Brian Bolland by Brian Bolland (apokoliptian)
  3. 00
    Greatest Joker Stories Ever Told (DC Comics) by Mike Gold (FFortuna)
  4. 00
    Batman: The Man Who Laughs by Ed Brubaker (FFortuna)
  5. 12
    Batman: Cacophony by Kevin Smith (FFortuna)

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» See also 43 mentions

English (59)  French (1)  All languages (60)
Showing 1-5 of 59 (next | show all)

Hot off the heels of reading The Watchmen, I decided to pick up another Alan Moore book, The Killing Joke. I had read that this book was a big part of the inspiration for Heath Ledger's joker in The Dark Knight, so I was quite excited for it.

Unfortunately, I don't think the book holds up very well to scrutiny. First, the good: the artwork is absolutely fantastic, particularly the re-released, re-colored anniversary edition. Some of the panels are insanely beautiful and memorable, let it not be said that this isn't a beautifully drawn book.

Now, the not so good: very little actually happens. I realize it's only a 60-page book, but a lot more could have happened. Joker buys a carnival, kidnaps Comissioner Gordon, tries to drive him crazy, then Batman shows up and tells him to stop. In the meantime, we are treated to a series of flashbacks into who the Joker was before he became the Joker. This was what I had the most trouble with.

The Joker's appeal is partly his completely mysterious past - it makes him into a force of nature, rather than an actual person. This book tries to humanize him to a degree, arguing that he and Batman are both byproducts of a single bad day, and they simply reflected on this day differently. I think this lessens Joker as a character no matter what, but in particular the backstory given to him is terrible. Joker as a failed standup comedian with a pregnant wife, he sets up a heist to help pay the bills, but she dies randomly the day before the heist, which he then goes through with anyway. It also retcons the Red Hood in an incredibly unbelievable way. The whole thing is tedious and silly, at no point believable. I realize that it may not have been "true", since the Joker explains that he remembers his past different all the time, but that's really no better than telling someone a story and then ending with "it was all a dream - or was it?"

Batman's confrontation with the Joker is anticlimactic and lame. He shows up and tells the Joker, who has just tortured his friend Gordon and paralyzed Gordon's Daughter (which Joker somehow knew he did when he shot her), that he sympathizes with him and wants to help. This is the weakest, softest portrayal of Batman I've ever seen. He pleads with the Joker so they don't kill each other. It's just... weak.

Overall, I think this is an unengaging story with a lot of unfortunate retconning that I'd prefer not exist. I liked the Joker's portrayal, and I'm glad it went to influence Heath Ledger's excellent turn, but beyond that I don't think this book is really worth reading. ( )
  rodhilton | Nov 14, 2014 |
I guess comics had a lot to prove in the 80s, and that hasn't helped them age well. While it's an artful story (especially the artwork, which has been redone), every page is desperately screaming, "I'm not for kids," without enough quality writing to make up for that. It's too dark to be any fun, and there's no excuse for a Joker story to not be fun. ( )
  comfypants | Nov 13, 2014 |
I love Batman. I loved this book. I think the important thing about remaking famous characters is to stay true to their original personalities. Alan Moore did a great job of staying true not only the the personalities of both Batman and the Joker, but to the relationship between the two. The Joker seems to bring out this moral ambiguity that Batman finds uncomfortable. The only thing that I didn't like is they presented an alternative back story to Joker that I don't think fits well with what is already known about him as a character. ( )
  alb2219 | Sep 5, 2014 |
Very well done. Great graphics and coloring. I really liked the spotlight effect used in the flashback scenes. Good story and nice dialogue throughout. I personally could have done with less mistreatment of Barbara as I felt uncomfortable with the sexualized violence, but the rest of the graphic novel was well done. ( )
  CareBear36 | Jun 10, 2014 |
I do believe this is my favorite Joker story. My second favorite being the Batman: The Animated Series episode in which the guy owes the Joker a favor.

This is one of those tales that really shows exactly how mad the Joker is. His plan? Drive Commissioner Gordon mad. Why? To prove that any sane man can go crazy, all it takes is one bad day.

Alan Moore's powerhouse writing and Brian Bolland's iconic art make this one of the most memorable, most powerful stories in Batman history. ( )
  regularguy5mb | May 22, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 59 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Alan Mooreprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bolland, BrianIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
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There were these two guys in a lunatic asylum . . .
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0930289455, Paperback)

The Killing Joke, one of my favorite Batman stories ever, stirred a bit of controversy because the story involves the Joker brutally, pointlessly shooting Commissioner Gordon's daughter in the spine. This is a no-holds-barred take on a truly insane criminal mind, masterfully written by British comics writer Alan Moore. The art by Brian Bolland is so appealing that his depiction of the Joker became a standard and was imitated by many artists to follow.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:23:55 -0400)

"One bad day. According to the grinning engine of madness and mayhem known as The Joker, that's all that separates the sane from the psychotic. Freed once again from the confines of Arkham Asylum, he's out to prove his deranged point. And he's going to use Gotham's top cop, Commissioner Jim Gordon, and his brilliant and beautiful daughter Barbara to do it. Now Batman must race to stop his archnemesis before his reign of terror claims two of the Dark Knight's closest friends. Can he finally put an end to the cycle of bloodlust and lunacy that links thes two iconic foes before it leads to a fatal conclusion? And as the horrifying origin of the Clown Prince of Crime is finally revealed, will the thin line that separates Batman's nobility and The Joker's insanity snap once and for all? '' -- dust jacket.… (more)

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