ON COMICS: THE KILLING JOKE

51cMN2iaShL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_The Killing Joke (Alan Moore, Brian Bolland)
DC Comics, 1988

I’m a trade paperback guy. I mentioned in an earlier post that I don’t have the time or resources to be a weekly comic reader. Buying them in volumes suits me just fine.

But occasionally, I come across comics that make me wish I had read them week-to-week. Considering I was 11-years old at the time of its publication, I don’t think I would been have been prepared for The Killing Joke, but it would have been fun to follow that story week-to-week.

I’ll admit: I had this book for months before I learned of its controversial ending from an interview with Grant Morrison. I don’t buy the prevailing theory about the last panel, but I do love a good conspiracy.

First off, I love that the origin story makes us feel sorry for The Joker. Up until reading this book, I had never really given a lot of thought to the villain’s motivations. I know some people hate the idea of creating new origins, but I thought it was brilliant writing.

Secondly, the fun-house/roller coaster sequence is probably one of the best monologues on madness I’ve ever read. Joker’s soliloquy is all that more believable and sad if read from a place of sympathy. We’re not supposed to read Joker and think, “That’s right!” But it’s hard not to affirm everything he’s saying since he’s so damaged inside.

Third, it’s just fun to read a book that so powerfully shaped the Batman mythos. The attack on Barbara as a definitive moment in her storyline, the co-dependent relationship between Batman and Joker…things created in The Killing Joke that are still a huge part of the Batman identity. It’s fun to read a book so critically cherished and realized that, yeah, everybody’s right…it’s one of the best Joker stories ever told.

*And come on…that last panel.

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