Comic Review: Batman: The Killing Joke – Alan Moore

Release Date: December 1st 1995
Published By: DC Comics
Pages: 64
Goodreads: Add it to your reading list

Rating: 5 out of 5

Synopsis: For the first time the Joker’s origin is revealed in this tale of insanity and human perseverance. Looking to prove that any man can be pushed past his breaking point and go mad, the Joker attempts to drive Commissioner Gordon insane.

After shooting and permanently paralyzing his daughter Barbara (a.k.a. Batgirl), the Joker kidnaps the commissioner and attacks his mind in hopes of breaking the man.

But refusing to give up, Gordon maintains his sanity with the help of Batman in an effort to beset the madman.

Review: The Killing Joke is probably one of my favourite Batman comics that I’ve ever read. This is the perfect comic to read if you’re new to comics in general, because this story tells us a little about the mysterious Joker.

Probably one of the most famous comics out there, The Killing Joke tells the story of how The Joker lashes out against Commissioner Jim Gordon’s daughter Barbara Gordon (also known as Batgirl for those of you playing at home), by putting a bullet in her spine, and then degrading her by taking photographs of her lying bleeding on the ground. Joker then kidnaps Commissioner Gordon and is hellbent on driving him crazy, the same way that The Joker was driven crazy when his wife and unborn baby were killed. That’s where Batman intervenes…

As a longtime fan of Batman, prior to reading The Killing Joke, I often wondered why we didn’t know much about The Joker. I mean, every other main character has their story that is pretty well known, but I never knew all that much about him. And I thought initially this was by design – that he was a man of mystery and he is what he is and not to question this. But The Killing Joke answered so many questions I had about the man he was before he was The Joker.

In this, you see a really deranged and crazy Joker – and rather than just seeing his maniacal side, you really see his evil side in this story, unrelenting and uncaring about how he treats others. The illustrations really helped to tell this story as well as it did, and I found myself really gripped.

This story has become so ingrained and integral in the DC Universe that I am seeing references to this comic through comics I am reading right now (In particular Batgirl Vol 1 and Vol 2). Definitely an important comic to read if you’re wanting to learn more about Batman!

Also worth mentioning is that under the dust jacket of the hardcover graphic novel, is the most beautiful purple foil front and back cover. It’s the little touches like this that make a big difference.

Quotes:

“So when you find yourself locked onto an unpleasant train of thought, heading for the places in your past where the screaming is unbearable, remember there’s always madness. Madness is the emergency exit.”

“See, there were these two guys in a lunatic asylum… and one night, one night they decide they don’t like living in an asylum any more. They decide they’re going to escape! So, like, they get up onto the roof, and there, just across this narrow gap, they see the rooftops of the town, stretching away in the moon light… stretching away to freedom. Now, the first guy, he jumps right across with no problem. But his friend, his friend didn’t dare make the leap. Y’see… Y’see, he’s afraid of falling. So then, the first guy has an idea… He says ‘Hey! I have my flashlight with me! I’ll shine it across the gap between the buildings. You can walk along the beam and join me!’ B-but the second guy just shakes his head. He suh-says… He says ‘Wh-what do you think I am? Crazy? You’d turn it off when I was half way across!”

“It’s all a joke! Everything anybody ever valued or struggled for… it’s all a monstrous, demented gag! So why can’t you see the funny side? Why aren’t you laughing?”

What do you think?

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