Tuesday, 30 November 2010

The Killing Joke by Alan Moore

GENRE: comic book

One of the most controversial tales from Batman's career returns as a deluxe hardback edition! When the Joker commits an unspeakable crime, Batman must use all his skill to outwit the crazed criminal. But in the end, how different are the Dark Knight and his quarry? Legendary writer Alan Moore and artist Brian Bolland present this all-time classic story, digitally recoloured and featuring a bonus black and white story by Bolland.

Comic books are not something I read very often, but so far, I’ve been lucky because all of the comic books I actually have read have been really good. And all of them have been by Alan Moore, which is a lovely coincidence.

I mostly know the Batman universe from Burton’s and Nolan’s movies, but I dare say this story presents the Batman-Joker relationship and mind games at its finest.

In this comic book, the Joker breaks free from the Arkham Asylum again and goes on another one of his rampages, yet this time his targets are Commissioner Gordon, Barbara Gordon (the daughter) and Batman. The Joker wants to take revenge on the commissioner and Batman, as well as prove that, essentially, everyone is just like him – all it takes is one bad day to have a completely sane man turn insane. In proving that, he comes up with a diabolical scheme worthy of his reputation.

Moore shows that both Batman and the Joker went through a similar tragedy, yet they coped with it differently. For the Joker, madness is the exit out of pain and for Batman, the exit is fighting injustice. In this comic book, the Joker, who is a sadistic, sociopathic killer, is presented as a tragic character. He is the way he is because of a personal tragedy. This is also the only thing that, in retrospect, bothers me in this comic book. The reason for an ordinary man becoming the Joker that is given in the comic book is a bit empty, or rather it doesn’t seem to be enough. People become insane because of bad things that happen to them, no doubt about that. Yet, to become someone of the Joker’s proportions, I only see two possible explanations: either the seed of such evil was already growing inside this man and something simply triggered it to bloom to its fullest potential or he went through something so grotesquely horrible that it is quite impossible to imagine. In my mind, the Joker is not a tragic man, but he does create tragedy.

Aside from that, the comic book is a true delight to read. It is filled with the Joker’s witty and grotesque lines, puns and even some words that sound completely true, which is kind of scary. The Batman is not in the forefront, but his essence is clearly shown. He and the Joker are like yin and yang, yet as much as they are eerily similar in some ways, what sets them apart is the nobility of one man and complete abandonment in the other one.

This is a must-read for fans of the Joker and Batman and it might be a nice introduction into Alan Moore’s comic books, too.

THIS MISS RATES: / (4.5 stars)


The Insouciant Sophisticate said...

I also love the Nolan/Bale Batman films but I've never read any of the comics; I've also never read any Alan Moore. Maybe I will check this out.

Blodeuedd said...

Something my friend surely will read, if she hasn't already. She is always talking about batman comics :)

Unknown said...

There is an extraordinary wealth of excellence in comics and graphic novels, though it helps to have a resource for navigating the unremarkable or just plain lousy.

If you haven't read "From Hell" by Moore, make that your next. It is profound literature and his true masterpiece.

Great review of a personal favorite; I especially love Brian Bollands art in the Killing Joke.