Together with Commissioner Gordon, Batman heads to Arkham Asylum to see the Joker. Surprisingly, it's not for an interrogation, instead, he seeks a simple conversation with the mad man. As the conversation quickly leads to nowhere, Batman learns that the Joker has escaped once again. He seeks out the psychopath only to come up short, while the Joker freely begins another reign of terror. -summary
The 80's was truly a great run for comic books, due to them going through a heavy transformation into the grittier and morbid tales. While Marvel would go on to pretty much dominate with their creative story lines and increased risk with stories such as the Phoenix Saga, Days of Future Past, and Last Hand, DC would also have their moments. One story that indeed stood out would be Alan Moore's Batman: The Killing Joke. This story is said to be the one that influenced Tim Burton's Batman in 1989. Honestly, I don't see the influence at all. This story only further proves to me he didn't know much about Batman and Joker's feud, and I don't think he understood this book either.
The Killing Joke is a fantastic read with some very heavy themes here. The story follows Joker as he goes through flashbacks remembering the situations that drove him over the edge. Later, his origin comes under serious questioning due to the lack of belief in his own past. This showcases a completely different element in the characters way of thinking. In the here and now, he seeks to prove how one bad day can drive someone completely insane. I really enjoyed Moore's no-holds barred narrative here, as he also questions is Batman truly sane himself, with Joker putting Batman on the spot, and getting pretty warm with his own analysis of the Dark Knight.
Moore pulls no punches here as the story and themes are about as subtle as stepping on a land mine with the messages. I really enjoyed the use of Commissioner Gordon here; this is among the best uses for a side character I seen. It can even be strongly argued that he's actually a main character, and it's Batman who's the side character instead. Although the story may appear to be complex by way of the psychological battle going on, it's fairly linear and very easy to understand. The narrative doesn't bombard the reader with loads of dialog, and what is present only helps develop the characters even more. There's also an epilogue present that follows one man's goal to kill Batman, and this is also a very strong mini-story.
Brian Bolland is the man behind the illustrations, and this is some very fine artwork. The black and white panels during the flashbacks, I think plays into the way Joker sees things, and if this is the case, then it was a very smart move to go this route. There are also some very disturbing images of violence and even nudity. I really like the use of nudity here since it plays into the overall story. The action panels are pretty good overall. The dialog contains a small amount of profanity, and thankfully it wasn't put there for lowly just because reasons.
The Killing Joke is not at all the best of Alan Moore's works. However, it's among the best Batman stories and depictions of the Joker. It captures everything the Joker represents; evil, chaos, cruelty, whatever it takes to get his madness across. Certain elements would also carry on into the main continuity. I highly recommend this story even to those who aren't fans of DC comics. It's a really good story, my only gripe would probably be the length.
-Very gripping narrative and superb artwork
What did you think of this review?
The plot revolves around a largely psychological battle between Batman and his longtime foe the Joker, who has escaped from Arkham Asylum. The Joker intends to drive Gotham City Police Commissioner James Gordon insane to prove that the most upstanding citizen is capable of going mad after having "one bad day". Along the way, the Joker has flashbacks to his early life, gradually explaining his possible origin.
The man who will become the Joker is an unnamed engineer who quits his job at a chemical company to become a stand-up comedian, only to fail miserably. Desperate to support his pregnant wife, Jeannie, he agrees to guide two criminals into the plant for a robbery. During the planning, the police inform him that his wife has died in a household accident involving an electric baby bottle heater. Grief-stricken, the engineer tries to withdraw from the plan, but the criminals strong-arm him into keeping his commitment to them.
At the plant, the criminals make him don a special mask to become the infamous Red Hood. Unknown to the engineer, this disguise is simply the criminals' scheme to implicate any accomplice as the mastermind to divert attention from themselves. Once inside, they almost immediately blunder into security personnel, and a violent shootout and chase ensues. The criminals are gunned down and the engineer finds himself confronted by Batman, who is investigating the disturbance.
Panicked, the engineer deliberately jumps into the ...