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Batman: The Killing Joke Paperback – December 1, 1995

4.7 out of 5 stars 1,475 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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.

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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: Batman Beyond (DC Comics)
  • Paperback: 48 pages
  • Publisher: DC Comics; Graphic Novel edition (December 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0930289455
  • ISBN-13: 978-0930289454
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 0.1 x 10.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,475 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #146,506 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By trashcanman VINE VOICE on July 14, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Length: 2:37 Mins
"The Killing Joke" is widely considered to be the be-all-end-all of Joker stories, so what better way to pay homage to the greatest comic book villain of all time near the eve of his re-unveiling in The Dark Knight than by reviewing his definitive story? This is the comic that (sort of) revealed the origin of The Clown Prince of Crime, humanizing him to an extent never before, and truly examined -with pictures rather than words- the antagonistic symbiosis that exists between Joker and his arch nemesis, The Batman. A beloved Gotham regular will never be the same and another will be put through hell before this story is done. Oh, and there are creepy little henchmidgets as well. Gotta love the henchmidgets.

The art is outstanding, the storytelling superb, and the character examinations are vital to understanding both combatants. The "one bad day" premise highlights the "two sides of the same coin" argument that Batman and Joker are in fact more alike than dissimilar. As if Bruce Wayne took a right when his arch-nemesis took a left. The controversial ending leaves little doubt as to Alan Moore's take on the debate, and I like it like that. While many critics have strongly resisted both the comparison and the somewhat sympathetic look at The Joker's past, the truth is that every great character -villain or hero- needs that sort of intricacy to their story to remain relevant in the world of modern fiction. Comics are no longer for children and adults realize that the world is seldom black and white, that all monsters were once men, and that unspeakable darkness and insanity resides deep inside each human mind.
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Format: Paperback
Batman: The Killing Joke is the greatest story ever told about the origin of The Joker. What make this story so brilliant is how Batman, by accident, created his greatest foe. The art in this story is perhaps Brian Bolland's greatest achievement. (No one can draw The Joker better than Bolland. ex: The cover of the Greatest Joker Stories Ever Told). Alan Moore delivers a dark story about Batman and his relationship with the Joker. From the first page when Batman visits The Joker at Arkham Asylum on a dark stormy night, to exactly 24 hours later when Batman confronts The Joker at an abandon carnival is brillantly told by Moore in the format of The Dark Knight tradition. I thought it was brillant to begin and end this story with the same panel (rain falling on the ground) which shows no matter what fates happen to everyone else, Batman and The Joker will always end up where they started..."There were once Two men in a lunatic asylum..." This one-shot format for mature readers is also exceptional how it can merge two stories (Joker's origin and Batman's hunt for him) together. For example, When the Joker's hand is outstreched toward's the clown in fortune teller machine, the panel before shows The Joker reaching for his wife, with the same expression on her face...while his expression is reflected in the backround. It is almost as if he were having a flashback to his orgin. It is also interesting to see Batman confront The Joker and offer to help him, despite all The Joker has done. On the panel where The Joker glances at Batman before he says no to Batman's help is very scary in the fact that The Joker is actually considering to accept help from Batman. I guess the best example of Batman's and The Joker's relationship is on the back cover, with both of them on the same playing card...Forever together and forever apart...like different sides of the same coin...
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Format: Hardcover
This is a review for the deluxe version of The Killing Joke released on March 19th 2008, not the differently colored version originally released in 1988 that went on to be a sequential art classic.

It's nice to see The Killing Joke in hardcover and in a bigger page format. The crisp line work of Brian Bolland shines even more on a wider, longer page. His legendary hatching and feathering technique deserves the industry version of "widescreen". This is where my compliments on this edition mainly lie. The recoloring brings out a very different response in me.

The recoloring by penciller Brian Bolland for this edition was a mistake. Gone are the atmospheric tints and lighting effects from John Higgins. Gone are great effects like raindrops on The Joker's shoulder when he appears in the story for the first time. Gone is an important component of the story that stood along Moore's script and Bolland's fine penciling as something that made The Killing Joke a visual tale to be remembered by Batman and comic book fans alike.

Bolland's recoloring job for the most part looks like he turned white lights onto every scene set in the story's present narrative and therefore effectively kills the disturbing mood that Higgins colors had substantially helped inject into the story. Instead of the original presence of emotion and horror, this version takes on some visual blandness. The scene between Alfred and Batman in the Batcave loses its somber tone. The attack on Barbara Gordon loses some of the terror of the original. Where has the strong mood of this story gone DC? I can see adjusting the intensity of Higgins original color palette to some degree like the method they chose with his coloring when they released an Absolute Version of Watchmen.
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