Alan Moore has some amazing stories under his belt, and Batman: The Killing Joke is another one in his arsenal. It is just one issue, but it’s the best Joker story written. Batman and the Joker are two sides of the same coin, and like Harry Potter and Voldemort, neither can live while the other survives.
The Joker escapes from Arkham Asylum, shoots and paralyzes Barbara Gordon, and kidnaps Commissioner Gordon. The Joker thinks that anyone can end up like him; all it takes is one bad day. The Joker wants to break Gordon, to make him go insane. Batman has a problem with this and sets out to save Gordon and confront the Joker.
The story flashes back to the Joker’s early life, before he was crazy. He’s a failed comedian who agrees to help out some gangsters stage a robbery to get some much needed cash. Before the heist, his wife and unborn child die in a freak accident. He has no reason to commit the crime now, but he’s forced into it. The caper doesn’t go as planned, and long story short, shit goes down and he becomes the Joker.
The main storyline and the flashbacks echo each other. The panels have a lot of parallels: similar character poses and arrangements provide a seamless transition between the past and present. Brian Bolland’s art is amazing. It suits the story perfectly.
Batman and the Joker are both the result of one bad day. They just channeled their pain in different ways. Batman chose to face reality and fight crime. The Joker chose to embrace insanity and fight reality. He truly is crazy. He even admits that he can’t trust his own memories: “Sometimes I remember it one way, sometimes another… If I’m going to have a past, I prefer it to be multiple choice!”. There is an iconic ending. The Joker tells Batman a joke and they share a laugh. It makes you wonder if Batman is also insane
Batman comics are awesome. Alan Moore comics are awesome. Alan Moore Batman Comics are exponentially awesome. That’s a lot of awesome. This is a really good story. It’s a really important Batman comic. It’s also really short, so you have no reason to not read it. So read it.
Critically Rated at 15/17