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Batman: The Killing Joke

September 24, 2008

I don’t like Lost and I was with Alias for the first 3 or so seasons but Abrahm’s new series Fringe has potential, check it out.

Background: Normally with the information on an author I’d offer tasty morsels of facts like birthdate, college, first comic etc. However with Alan Moore I’ll just offer the known and some interesting stuff that I found out.

Moore’s magnum opus was Watchmen, also considered one of the greatest comics of all time (my personal opinion is that it gets dry, it’s a little long-winded at times, and feels very preachy but it’s still a great  comic just not the greatest). Famous for V for Vendetta and the Swamp Thing.  Honestly basically everything he’s written is famous, some moreso than others obviously. He hated V for Vendetta the movie. Has turned all royallty rights over to Dave Gibbons regarding the Watchmen movie. To me, he seems to be a generally cranky old man, also maybe crazy.

Brian Bolland, the artist, is famous in DC and Marvel for his covers, also apparently his use of bondage as a thematic element in some of his art. The Killing Joke was actually the last comic series that he worked on before moving over to covers full time. For the most part you can find most of his artwork on DC covers but he does have a book called Bolland Strips! that you can pick up.

The Comic: The Killing Joke is supposed to be controversial. Maybe it’s because Batman and Joker end up laughing at each other seeming like friends. Maybe it’s what happens to Barbara Gordon. Maybe it’s the weird S&M scene with the midgets and Jim Gordon. I don’t know but when I first read The Killing Joke I didn’t think it was all that controversial but then again I’m of a new age of comic readers where the dark and the dark humor is the norm not the exception.

So basic synopsis. The Killing Joke revolves around two different themes, the usual “by the book” rules of Gordon and Batman and the “futility of life” perspective that the Joker holds. The Joker captures Gordon and attempts to drive the man insane to prove that his civilized self isn’t worth it and that life is just a crapshoot. It doesn’t work because when Batman saves Gordon he tells Batman to get Joker by the book.

It’s a typical plot line as far as Batman morality is concerned. What makes The Killing Joke stand out are the small surprises that are put in through out. Explaining how the Joker became well, the Joker. How, both Batman and Joker are portrayed as both being insane but in two different fashions that happen to collide. Also, the turns against the Gordon family I’m sure were shocking in the 80s, who would expect that? Although, everyone’s insistence on using Barbara Gordon as only the Oracle anymore sucks but what can you do?

The joke at the end is a good one and I suppose it leaves things open to interpretation. Me I like it to just kind of fade like it does. You can make all the conjectures that you want but you know something happened regardless and the ending feels appropriate.

My recommendation: The Killing Joke is my personal favorite of Moore’s work and coupled with Bolland’s art it makes for an visual and mental treat. Unlike say V or Watchmen this Batman comic moves smoothly, quickly when it needs to know, and slowly when it doesn’t. It lets you breathe as you read it and take in the shocking moments. The best part is even if you’re not sure what happened at the end Moore and Bolland let you off gently and you walk away satisfied. It’s like a good meal.

♣ ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣

Scyo.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. October 6, 2008 10:47 pm

    “The Comic: The Killing Joke is supposed to be controversial. Maybe it’s because Batman and Joker end up laughing at each other seeming like friends. Maybe it’s what happens to Barbara Gordon. Maybe it’s the weird S&M scene with the midgets and Jim Gordon. I don’t know but when I first read The Killing Joke I didn’t think it was all that controversial but then again I’m of a new age of comic readers where the dark and the dark humor is the norm not the exception.”

    One of the reasons that I think it is seen as being controversial is the crippling of Barbara Gordon, Jim’s Daughter, at a time when she was working with / had been working with Batman as Batgirl.

    I loved TKJ. The art and pacing were both exceptional and carried the story very well.

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