Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland

I've never been a huge fan of comic books or graphic novels. I've watched and enjoyed many superhero movies, but I've never read any of the books that they are based on. I recently decided to delve into the genre. The Joker has always been one of my favorite characters, so I decided to read a book that featured him. The Killing Joke, written by Alan Moore of Watchmen and V for Vendetta fame, is one of the most iconic stories to feature the villain. It offers a rare glimpse at the Joker's back story.

The book opens with Batman visiting the Arkham Asylum to meet with the Joker. In a rare act of diplomacy, Batman is there to put an end to his rivalry with the villain. He has come to the conclusion that their feud can only end in the death of one or both of them. In an attempt to avoid this undesirable outcome, Batman seeks to peacefully end the continuous cycle of hostility. But there is no reasoning with a psychopath.

Batman is a man of reason, a keeper of peace and justice, a warrior against evil who sees right and wrong as black and white. The Joker knows that the world is not that simple. Flashbacks show the Joker when he was just an everyday citizen. At the time, he was an amateur comic, struggling to make ends meet. He and his wife were expecting a child, and he was willing to do whatever it took to support his family. Despite the hardships, the Joker was happy with his life. One bad day changed all of that. Now the Joker is on a mission to prove that, given the right circumstances, anyone can turn evil and crazy. . . even a man of integrity.

This book focuses largely on the Joker. Batman appears more as a supporting character, mostly to be the hero and save the day. Brian Bolland's art is incredible, and each frame dazzles with intricate detail. The writing is equally appealing, but fails to live up to the intricacy of the images. The Joker is bad, Batman is good, and good wins out in the end. This is a little disappointing, especially given the complex ideas that Moore hints at. The story questions the boundary of sanity and madness and how a person reaches either point. What makes the man who dresses like a clown crazy but the man who dresses like a bat a hero? The plot never allows these ideas to reach their full potential, opting instead for a typical conclusion. I can certainly respect this book for what it is, but I don't think it lives up to the hype surrounds it.

For more information, visit Amazon and GoodReads.

(2015, 21)

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2 Responses to “Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland”

  1. A shame about it not being as good as the hype. And again, it's sort of disappointing that it sticks to the black and white of good being good and bad just being plain bad. I do like the movies and have been embarking on trying the comics out a bit more as well!

    1. I can definitely see where certain movie portrayals have drawn from this source material. This is one case where I'm glad that the filmmakers chose to stray from the original story!


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