Reviews: The Killing Joke

Published on April 14th, 2009

While Frank Miller’s Dark Knight series has traditionally been given more credit for the revival of Batman. The Killing Joke stands apart as a classic tale of sanity, insanity and the fine line that divides the two.

When I was a kid there was a few pages that scared the shit out of me. Maybe I was to young to read it when it was first published by DC Comics in 1988. I was only 10 years old. Yet when I was reading this book at that time I knew that this was something special and shocking that I would never forget.

thekillingjokeIt is still one of my favorite memories of Batman of all time.

This story featured the Joker as the main villain. Pretty much this sounds just like an average Batman story where the Joker has escaped as usual but in fact it goes much deeper than that and explains the twist and turns that made the Joker the insane criminal clown we all know and love.

The Joker is on the run and is out looking for revenge with a capital with R against the people that fucked him over through out his life. After his wife’s death he becomes even more insane then before and the first two people that he wants to take down are the Gordon family (Jim and Barbara) and the dark night himself Batman.

This influential one-shot is sure to make you ask your self “Hey it’s only 48 pages long why is this my Trade Tuesday?”This book is maybe one of the most influential in the history of The Batman books.

This book had an extraordinary impact on the DC Universe. Most significant was Barbara Gordon’s paralysis, which ended her career as Batgirl and eventually led to her role as Oracle in the Birds of Prey comic book series and the TV series of the same title which incorporated Killing Joke elements into its continuity.

Theyare few stories out there like this in the DC Universe.Me? Well I have the Deluxe Edition and I have the one-shot some where with the rest of my back issue in one of my long boxes.

Why does this book work ?
The exploration of the Joker’s origin is partly why I love this book. I also love the idea of Batman and the Joker being mirror images of each other. In a way the Joker is light and fun on the other side you have dark and hate that is Batman.

Another theme that is explored is the possibility that Batman is just as insane as the criminals he faces (“You had a bad day once, am I right?” the Joker asks Barman, after which the Joker himself replies with “I know . I can tell. You had a bad day and everything changed.”)

Both Batman and the Joker are creations of a random and tragic one bad day.

I think this is the greatest Joker story ever told and the greatest Batman story ever told as one. Hell in this book the Joker makes Alex from A Clockwork Orange look like a saint.

Over all this is a great character study of the Joker and Batman. I know I had some empathy for the Joker after reading this book.

Simon Daoudi