82 of 86 people found the following review helpful
I'm not sure where this story is supposed to fit in the greater Batman legend, but it pretty well sums up the relationship between Batman and the Joker, as well as providing some insights into their origins.
As usual, the Joker has escaped and gone on the rampage, but this time he has decided to take revenge on all the key characters that he believes have caused his suffering - the Gordons and Batman.
His scheme is diabolical - this is one of the ugliest Batman stories I have ever read - and violent. His method of revenge is really sickening and will probably leave you hoping for some severe punishment to be delivered by the end of the book.
And it is - Batman is at his most savage when he catches up with Joker. But the flashbacks to the Joker's past, beautifully rendered, may in turn have you feeling some sympathy for a man who just wanted to take care of his family and ended up disfigured and insane.
This book is about twisted fate and redemption. Both Batman and the Joker are victims of events beyond their control and now must live with the consequences.
Buy this for great art and one of the most thought-provoking stories in comics.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 24 December 2010
The Killing Joke is a strange one. When I first read it a few years ago I wasn't that crazy about it, I liked the artwork and some of the ideas but not the whole book. Reading it a second time I liked it a little bit more, I had originally been somewhat averse to a Joker origin story, I thought it was unneccessary and maybe it still is but at least Moore gives us enough space so that it's possible for everything we learned about the Joker to be just going on inside his head, something which was also used effectively in the recent summer blockbuster The Dark Knight. Tim Burton also took a lot from this comic when he created his first Batman film back in 1989, apparently it's his favorite comic of all tme.
The story is about the nature of Joker and Batman's relationship and also about them as individual people, the Joker more-so than Batman. He's almost a sympathetic character but not quite. His plan is to subject Gordon to such an intense and unbearable experience that he will lose his mind and therefore be like the Joker, which in turn might give Batman a better understanding of why the Joker is the way he is. Complicated? It is, deceivingly so. Check it out and see what you think, just don't expect to like it or to fully understand it on your first read-through, unless you read comics solely for the artwork, then you should love it from the outset.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 21 December 2011
I ordered this present for my sister for Christmas as i have heard wonderful things about the comic and i believe it will be right up her alley. When the product arrived i had a sneak peek inside and instantly read the whole thing cover to cover. It has to be Alan Moores darkest comic and to finally hear how the Joker was born (although it is admittedly ambiguous) had me captivated.
Fantastic artwork and dark thrills are going to make this a winner on Christmas day, i know it. Only problem... I was sorely tempted to keep it for myself!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 24 May 2015
THE essential Batman classic. Theres a reason this book is so popular among just about everyone. compelling, gripping, thought provoking and disturbing all at the same time this is a psychological thriller that will leave you thinking long after you've shut the book. After reading some of the very very few negative reviews for this book I should add that this book does have a mature theme and may not be the best book for children as it may and going by the reviews obviously has upset them. This is the book that effectively shaped the Joker for the future. we all know hes been a Murdering Mad Man in the past but this is the first proper look we get inside his head. Not only do we see him at his best here but also at his worst as he commits what could be deemed as his first proper DC universe altering atrocity (But certainly not his last).
The story is about the Joker trying to prove that its not just him that's crazy he wants to prove that the world is crazy and in comparison hes normal and its the rest of us that are warped. he goes about this by capturing the sanest and grounded person he can think of, Commissioner Gordon, and then proceeds to do unthinkable things to show that all it takes is one really bad day for even the most rational man to engulfed by insanity.
The characters are all at there strongest The Joker especially, for obvious reasons this is the book that Mark Hamill used to base his Joker persona around for the Batman: Animated Series. Jokers never been so lovable one minute then disgusting the next hes definitely at his best here and alot stronger than he is in the New 52 as he doesn't need to be "Gored up" to be scary it just comes naturally with his psychosis in this book. This book also marks the death of the original Batgirl and the birth of Oracle and the way its done is great just a few frames before Barbara Gordon is confronted by the joker you get the real impression of happiness in her eyes and then the tone changes completely and chillingly. I could analyse all the characters but there's little point, this book is about the joker he is the main character he is the hero of the book and the villain stealing the show from all angles.
The Art is beautifully detailed and presented, with solid drawings and practical use of colourings and shading to set the tone just right all the way throughout. I especially liked the detail to the eyes its done so well you can tell exactly what the characters thinking and feeling without even having to read the accompanying words.
No other book deserves five stars more, this is and always will be a classic and up to this date no writer has come anywhere close to a joker story matching it. You need this book!!
Contains Batman: The Killing Joke #1 and Batman: Black and White #4
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I read this when it was first published in 1988, and remember being disappointed by it, especially as the ending didn't do anything for me. Reading it again 25 years later, it still doesn't do anything. It is an excellent comic nonetheless, but other people have covered the same ground since, and with better jokes - see Ed Brubaker's Batman The Man Who Laughs TP (Joker), which I read just before rereading this. At the time, this was heralded by DC Comics as a major event, but the creators later said that they were `just' writing a Batman story, and that DC Comics decided to make it out to be something much bigger than they intended, in order to ride on the Watchmen bandwagon. Whether this was so, or just an excuse for not having another masterpiece, I have no idea. And of course, it might actually be a masterpiece, and it is me that is missing the joke...
THE SPOILER ZONE
THE SPOILER ZONE
THE SPOILER ZONE
This is the origin story of the Joker, told in flashback, as he once more escapes from Arkham and goes on the rampage, shooting Barbara Gordon - putting her in the wheelchair, where she has remained until the New 52 - and kidnapping Commissioner Gordon in order to drive him mad, to prove that it isn't his (the Joker's) fault that he kills people, but that it could have happened, at random, to anyone... Batman of course disagrees, though the joke is (possibly) that his parents' death did in fact send him off the rails, but in a different direction to the Joker. We also see in the flashback, the man who originally put on the Red Hood, how he met the Bat-Man, and ended up in the state that we see him today: Nature versus Nurture, perhaps, or just strength of character showing through for one, but not the other.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Batman goes to Arkham Asylum on a fool's errand - to try and talk sense to the Clown Prince of Crime, the Joker. But Joker's not there! He's escaped and plans on destroying the Gordon family. Will the Dark Knight save them? Or will Joker have the last laugh...
First off, this is an acknowledged classic and I utterly loved it when I read it several years ago. Re-reading it now, I can say this book most definitely holds up, this is a classic Batman book for a reason. What I forgot was how slim a book it is - it's 46 pages long! The other Bat-classics, Returns, Year One, Long Hallowe'en, they're all at least 100 pages, the last one I think is nearly 300 pages. 46 pages!
It's a testament to Alan Moore's skilful plotting and Brian Bolland's superb artwork and layouts then that the two of them are able to fit so much and develop it so well in such a limited frame. And here's the other surprise about this book, even though Alan Moore's name is on the book, Brian Bolland is far and away the real reason anyone, whether they like superhero comics or not, should pick up this book. The artwork is GORGEOUS!
Look at that iconic cover - Joker looking perfect, his pose fit snugly within the rectangular cover; it says so much and is such a beautiful cover. I've got a large print of this framed in my house I love it so much. Looking through the book though are so many other frames that are utterly fantastic - the Joker smiling a winning smile to the Carnival property owner; Joker's gun as it points at Barbara Gordon; the Heart of Darkness-esque shot of Joker sitting on a bumper car atop a pile of (fake) dead babies; the design of the red hood; the half page image of the Joker becoming the Joker for the first time; the first panel of the last page when Joker begins laughing at his own punch-line - and Batman joins in!
Yes this is an origin story of one of the most interesting villains in fiction ever created, but I choose to believe it isn't, that it's one version of Joker's origin, one of many swirling around the calliope of his deranged mind, in the same way that the ending could be seen as imaginary. I mean, could you see Batman laughing with the Joker? But I loved Moore's choice of ending the story on a joke, that was a master stroke.
Bolland writes the afterword and he makes an interesting point about Moore, that "The Killing Joke" is never mentioned among his great works (Watchmen, V for Vendetta, Swamp Thing, From Hell) and I think that, while Moore is a tremendous writer (especially in the 80s), the writing here is not his best. Sure he does a decent job but it's not his best work. No, the real reason this book is so revered is the artwork. Really, I can't praise it enough. And it's a damn shame that Bolland hasn't drawn another Batman comic since then, or any comic really, instead illustrating book covers exclusively.
Any Batman fan will already have this on their "to-read list" or else already own it, but I think comics fans who don't usually go in for superhero comics will find plenty to enjoy here too. This is the book that influences a lot of things that follow it: Tim Burton's 1989 Batman movie (Jack Napier in the factory being chased by cops), the Batman games "Arkham Asylum" and "Arkham City" (see the fight sequences between Batman and Joker and tell me you don't recognise a few moves there), but most of all what happened to poor Barbara Gordon and how her character would develop over the years.
Also, if you can, buy the Deluxe Edition as it features the colour work of Bolland himself instead of John Higgins the original colourist. Bolland's approach is markedly different particularly in the flashback sequences of Joker-before-he-was-Joker. It also comes with an introduction by Tim Sale (artist of Haunted Knight, The Long Hallowe'en, and Dark Victory), and an afterword by Bolland along with a bonus strip written and drawn by Bolland of a murderous delusional fantasising about killing the Caped Crusader.
A wonderful achievement by two talented artists, taking an iconic figure in an iconic series and making him seem new. Nearly 30 years later and it still reads fresh. Even if you've read it before but it's been a few years since you last picked it up, go read it again, you'll find little bits you missed all those years ago, like me.
I've got one: so, a bat and a clown go to the fair and....
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 11 October 2011
One of the greatest Batman comics of all time. This is a must have for not only Batman fans, but comic book fans. The Killing Joke tells the compelling story of The Joker's origin. Fascinating and interesting. This is the comic book which inspired a lot of Tim Burton's work. Classic!
21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on 31 October 2002
As someone rediscovering comics after some 20 years out, this book is something of a revelation. A literate script and beautifully illustrated, this is a rewarding, sophistocated read. Batman seems to be the only 'golden age' superhero who lends himself to tales as dark as this - my other favourite is Year One by Frank Miller. But this is the better book, and I'd recommend it to anyone curious about graphic novels but wary of their relative (to paperback novels) high price. Of course, this is reasonably priced, and fairly short - but it's actually all the better for it. Give me a taught, tense story over the flab that fills many of the longer graphic novels every time!
on 13 April 2015
It is no coincidence that the two best Batman movies had the Joker as Batman's main antagonist. There have been many colorful villains on the other side of the bat-punch over the years, but none is more of an alter ego than the green haired one. This fact is used to develop the opening scene in the book.
The Joker is in an insane asylum along with some of Batman's other foes. Batman goes to the Joker's cell and tries to reason with him to call off their "feud" before one of them is killed. His magnanimous gesture is for naught as the Joker has already escaped and is deep into plotting his revenge.
In a brutal scene, the Joker kidnaps police Commissioner Gordon and attempt to drive him insane. The Joker taunts Batman, setting up yet another confrontation between the two longtime foes in a setting that fits the Joker's mind. In an ending that is deliberately ambiguous, we don't know if Batman follows Gordon's instructions or executes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Although occasionally brutal in expression, the psychodynamic between Batman and the Joker makes this story a great one. There is an origin of the Joker subplot that helps us understand him a little better and that also moves his psyche closer to that of the Batman. One of the best evil villains ever created, the Joker expresses the dark side in all of us, and fortunately in nearly all cases it remains submerged and unexpressed. However, when someone does let that personality emerge it is usually national news.
on 23 July 2014
It is probably no surprise that one of the greatest Batman stories of all time is written by the man himself, Alan Moore. I don't necessarily agree with everything Mr Moore says, but no one can deny his brilliance when it comes to his writing style and communication with his artists. As with the timeless Watchmen, Batman: The Killing Joke is a story layered with beautifully crafted story-telling, high emotional drama and thought-provoking events that shake up the mythos and shine new light on themes rarely, if ever, touched upon before.
Escaping from the conventions of standard superhero stories, The Killing Joke centres around the clown prince of crime's psyche while still leaving many unanswered questions about how this crazed mind works. The Batman and Police commissioner Jim Gordon visit Arkham Asylum to find that the Joker has escaped from captivity. What follows is one of the darkest nights of Batman's career, when the Joker goes to the very extreme to prove that the road to insanity is caused by simply one bad day.
The relationship between Batman and the Joker is one of the most defining rivalries in all of comics. Where there is one, there will always be the other. Their conflict is deep, yet they are in many ways inseparable. I don't believe I've yet read a story that really captured who these characters are to each other, and this is shown by perhaps the only time in all of Batman's history where the Joker reveals some brief humanity to Batman. Perhaps this is not as black-and-white as we're made to believe. Like Bruce Wayne, who lost his parents because of one heart-shattering moment in his past, the Joker is clearly another broken human being, stripped of all meaning due to the big joke that is life - as is evidenced in the flashback sequences that explore a possible origin of the Joker.
Moore's brilliance radiates on every page of this masterpiece, along with that of the artist Brian Bolland. Every line is structured to perfection, every panel flawlessly pencilled. Much like in the previously mentioned Watchmen, no scene starts without some kind of superb segue from one scene to the other.
If you claim to be a big fan of the Dark Knight, then you ought to pick this book up right away. It's dark, it's tragic, it's smart and it is everything a good comic should be.