Archive for Joker

Batman: The Killing Joke

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , on July 16, 2008 by B33

Depth is a particular aspect that typically gives more room for characters in a particular medium to become more relatable and generally gives the audience a better idea at the motivation behind their actions. With that said, The Killing Joke (written by Alan Moore and drawn by Brian Bolland) grants the audience a better perception between Batman and The Joker in terms of just how similar their motivation truly is. Essentially, both characters had one bad day that forever changed their perspective of the world and drove them mad to a certain extent. To cope, both went down separate paths. The Joker took the path of evil, while Batman chose the path of justice and good. The particular idea plays a role in The Joker’s theory of madness expressed more recently in The Dark Knight regarding Dent, but the concept first appeared in The Killing Joke as The Joker plans to drive Police Commissioner James Gordon insane to prove that even the most upstanding citizen of Gotham could go mad after merely one bad day (much like himself).

While the graphic novel is a one-shot (a stand alone story), it’s presence still left a large impact on the DC Universe and the Batman series in particular. It’s dark nature and elements of the graphic novel have been incorporated to other forms of the series and it also gave birth to the Oracle (a retired Batgirl due to injuries sustained by The Joker). The one-shot’s depiction of The Joker is among one of the best renditions to date that has inspired other forms of the character (such as The Joker in The Dark Knight film) and further showed just how deep his insanity is rooted within the entrails and remnants of his once normal mind. There is a origin story present that further details the characters past, though it has been previously said that The Joker has multiple origin stories within his mind. Thus, you can take the one shot’s back story for what it’s worth and whether it’s canny or not is up to the audience to interpret in a ambiguous sort of manner.

There are two editions of the book available to the public as of right now. The original book was inked by John Higgins and ultimately followed a more bright and extensive palette that Brian Bolland admittedly disproved of as he felt it did not match the overall tone of the book. DC decided to republish the book in a hardcover form and Bolland asked to color the entire thing from scratch and ultimately “remaster” it and certain aspects as well. The hardcover edition will be the easiest to obtain as the original comic has been reprinted multiple times but ultimately is difficult to find. And with The Dark Knight, I’d turn to the hardcover edition as the cheaper alternative with the original edition in high demand. Whether you’ll enjoy one over the other really amounts to ones own taste. In the end, the core of the graphic novel is exactly the same with the only difference being the visual perception.

Below follows a comparison between the coloring style of the original edition (first image) of The Killing Joke and the brand new remastered edition (second image below first image).

If you’ve yet to pick up the graphic novel and have a fondness for dark material laced with a intriguing message that plays upon The Joker and Batman; you’ll more than likely enjoy Batman: The Killing Joke. It features well crafted dialogue, a well rounded story that is self contained (yet still leaves a impact), and decent art as well. It’s one of the best one shot stories within the Batman universe that features The Joker and leaves a large impact even after it was first published in 1988.