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Batman: The Killing Joke, Deluxe Edition Hardcover – March 19, 2008
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The Killing Joke, one of my favorite Batman stories ever, stirred a bit of controversy because the story involves the Joker brutally, pointlessly shooting Commissioner Gordon's daughter in the spine. This is a no-holds-barred take on a truly insane criminal mind, masterfully written by British comics writer Alan Moore. The art by Brian Bolland is so appealing that his depiction of the Joker became a standard and was imitated by many artists to follow. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From School Library Journal
This classic, infamous story in the Batman saga has been recolored with a more effectively cooler palette and set into context with an introduction and an afterword. Escaped from Arkham Asylum, villain deluxe Joker shoots Barbara "Batgirl" Gordon as part of his plan to drive her police commissioner father insane. Intending to prove that anyone can go mad after "one bad day" as he describes in his putative origin story, the Joker also kidnaps and torments Commissioner Gordon. But Gordon remains sane, and Batman recaptures the Joker—the two actually share a laugh at the ambiguous ending. With Barbara Gordon now a paraplegic, the story stands as a chilling profile of madness. The Killing Joke provoked fury among many readers who lamented the disposal of Barbara Gordon as a mere pawn to testosterone; yet Gordon reinvents herself later as superinfohacker Oracle, poster girl for disability empowerment (see Birds of Prey, LJ 7/08). A bonus story at the end paints the quieter, equally chilling madness of a Batman fan fantasizing about killing the superhero—a perfect foil for the publicly gaudy Joker. For adult collections.—M.C.
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I don't want to give too much away to those that have not read the story before. All you really need to know is this is one of the most pinnacle stories in Batman's universe you will ever read. It's not a multiple chapter graphic novel; it's a single issue story, 46 pages long. It has tons of re-readable value. The inking you see here is not the same as from when it was published. Instead, Brian Bolland has colored it the way he originally envisioned it to be visually told, drawing your attention to certain items in famous scenes and flashbacks.
For $10 you cannot beat this deal and you won't regret it either.
What really sets it apart is how mature and well told the story is. The very first dialogue sets the scene for the whole book: what's going to happen between Batman and the Joker? They've been playing the same game for years and years, but when will it end, and how? Before now, we never had any reason to sympathize with the Joker. The Joker has always been an incredibly interesting and fun character, but the audience didn’t know what drove him, or even what drove him mad. Revealing his backstory is one-shot deal; you either please fans universally or lose all of their faith depending on how the story is told. But The Killing Joke nails it with flying colors.
Speaking of colors, The Killing Joke is rife with fantastic images and finely-crafted spectacles. Open it to any page, and you’ll find something iconic or stylistic. Every panel is given such a painstaking attention to detail, and that kind of dedication and consistency is one of the major selling points. These are the images that’ll stick with you well after you put the book down because of how they pop out of the page. When you see that first image of the Joker truly going mad, you feel it. It’s not “oh look the joker is laughing and totally losing his mind, sucks to be him golly gee,” it’s “That’s it! That’s the point of no return! He’s gone and I feel like I was right there next to him!” (Okay that was a little corny, I won’t do that again, promise). And that’s not the only one that sticks out: Joker in a hawaiian t-shirt holding a cocktail, Joker on a throne of baby dolls, Joker looking solemnly at an old broken carnival machine.
Now, you might’ve noticed a pattern there. “But where’s Batman?” Y’see, Batman has had thousands of comics, movies, books, and video games dedicated to his story and his experiences. We know his backstory as though it’s mythology. But until now, we didn’t know Joker. Batman even says so in the graphic novel. And now that the Joker’s finally gotten his spotlight, a true telling of his story, there’s no need to go any further. Sure, we could ask for more novels about Joker’s experiences, but this is the only one that needed to be about the Joker. This is the story about how his life got flip-turned upside down (sorry). All the ones after this one, he’s already insane and we don’t learn anything really new. But here we see it all through his eyes. It doesn’t need a sequel. In fact I hope it never gets a sequel. There’s nothing more to tell with this story, especially with how it ends. The Killing Joke is an exceptional piece of literature.
I love Batman. Doesn't matter where he is. Nolan movies? Arkham series? Comics? They're all awesome, so of course I was gonna love Batman in this story too. The joker is also a stand out character obviously. I hate to love the joker because he's that awesomely terrible. It's amazing. This story isn't so much about Batman fighting bad guys as it is about proving the joker wrong. "All it takes is one bad day." Well does it? Batman (and Gordon) are pushed to their limits as they not only try to stop the joker, but prove him wrong. By the end of the story, you wonder who TRULY won that night. I won't give any spoilers, but the ending does make you wonder. You see what I mean? It's psychologically complex and disturbing. It really makes worry about the outcome of ALL the characters. One thing I liked from another comic, Batman: Hush, was the use of other DC characters to progress the story, but I really liked how The Killing Joke told another amazing story with less character in less pages. I also really like that short story after the end of the main story. I'm glad it was there.
There really isn't all that much bad. I mean I would have loved for it to be longer, but I still enjoyed it for what it is. That's really my only complaint. It just a little too short, and I wanted to keep on reading.
I don't know if it's the greatest graphic novel of all time, but I loved it and I think everyone else who reads it will love it too. I mean I read the whole thing is one sitting in less than an hour. I literally could not put the book down. BUT! There's a lot of very disturbing moments in the story, so know what you're getting yourself into. I mean the animated movie adaption for this book is rated R!
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