Special thanks to World 1-1′s Kyle for sending in this review. It’s his second guest review, his first was for Batman: Year One. The opinions expressed in this review and the work itself belong to Kyle Hogg.
Writer: Alan Moore
Artist: Brian Bolland
Publisher: DC Comics
Alan Moore is known as one of the best comic book writers in the world. He’s written critically acclaimed greats like V for Vendetta, From Hell, and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Not to mention he was also behind the single greatest comic in all of history: Watchmen. He also wrote a smaller, one-shot Batman title, The Killing Joke, which was a Joker centric title. But how good of a read is it really? And how does the artwork look in this day and age?
Batman: The Killing Joke is a Joker story at its heart, so there’s going to be a lot more focus on Batman’s arch nemesis than the Caped Crusader himself. That’s not to say Batman doesn’t get a decent amount of screen (er… page-) time either.
The Killing Joke tells of a Joker origin story. As far as if this is the true version we’ll never know. The Joker himself said sometimes he remembers his past one way, sometimes another. But either way in The Killing Joke we see the Joker’s past self as a husband and a soon to be father struggling to make ends meet. And then he has a bad day (and a bit of a chemical overdose) and turns into the Joker.
And so the Joker sets out to make a point: that any sane man will go mad with the right circumstances and a bad day. He chooses Commissioner Gordan to be his test subject. First he shoots and paralyzes his daughter and then sends the Commissioner himself on a carnival ride of madness.
Moore near flawlessly wrote the perfect Joker as we see him in one of his most desperate schemes yet. He’s not out to gain anything other than proving a psychological point. Seeing the Joker in this stage of madness and desperation is both disturbing and fascinating.
Batman: The Killing Joke has a great story thanks to Alan Moore’s superb writing. And his mastered ability to flow each scene page by page is second to none. The book also has an ending that is nothing short of awesome. After the culmination of a great Batman/Joker fight we get a hilarious joke and an ending that makes you say, “Damn, what a ride.”
If there’s something that deserves more praise that The Killing Joke’s writing, it’s Brian Bolland’s art, especially the re-colored edition, (which is the only version in print currently).
Bolland does a nice job with the flashback sequences too. Each of the flashback memories is colored with a washed out tan style to clearly distinguish the bridge from present to past. Everything in the scene is a monochromatic, tan hue, except for one object. This object is something that’s in every panel and is colored bright red. The contrast between the plain tan and the bright, red item has great artistic value and really contracts the item with the rest of the scene.
The artwork’s so colorful, detailed, and eye appealing that I find my self flipping through it day after day just looking at the pictures like I’m back in my Elementary School days.
The Killing Joke may not be as good as some of Moore’s other work (which would be saying a lot), but it’s by far the best Joker tale and one of the better Batman stories. Add that on to Brian Bolland’s gorgeous art and you have one hell of a comic.
Overall: 9.5/10 (A great, twisted Joker tale with some excellent art.)
The Writing: 9.5/10 (One of comics’ greatest writers writes a definitive Joker tale.)
Artwork: 9.8/10 (The visuals are crisp, colorful, and eye appealing.)
Entertainment Value: 9.3/10 (A great story that flows exceptionally well, despite being a bit on the short side.)