Batman: The Killing Joke Slays

Batman: The Killing Joke Slays

Nick Elliott

It has been a struggle eternal. Since his introduction in April, 1940, two opposing forces have battled. The Dark Knight, and the Clown Prince. The Batman and the Joker. And though everyone can tell you how Gotham got it’s knight, very few, if anyone can tell you how the Joker came to be. However, the 1988 graphic novel “Batman: The Killing Joke”, written by Alan Moore and drawn by Brian Bolland offers a possible look into this madman’s past. The chilling tale begins with Batman searching Gotham for his deranged foil, escaped from Arkham Asylum. Yet this is not Batman’s story.

This story focuses its lens on a man, failing to make rent and provide for his pregnant wife with his failing stand-up comedy act. A man having “One Bad Day.” Through this “one bad day”, the man comes face to face with the Batman. After leaping off a catwalk to escape, this man unwittingly dives into a vat of unknown chemicals. And after clawing his way into the rain outside, the man glances at his reflection in a puddle, horribly altered. The man is driven insane.

The story then jumps to the Joker, attempting not to murder or steal, but to teach. Teach the world that all it takes to reduce a well adjusted, stable person into insanity and madness, is just “One Bad Day”. Through a horrifying act that has repercussions throughout two decades of comic books, the Joker attempts to use Commissioner Gordon as his example of “the common man”, doomed to insanity. Through an intense confrontation, the story ends with a cliffhanger that might just drive you mad.

This story is widely regarded as one of the best graphic novels ever crafted, and I can only agree. With it’s chilling, psychological narrative, revealing the delicate balance between sanity and madness that lurks within us all, Alan Moore has written himself a masterpiece, full of choking emotion, suspense, and tragedy. The artstyle, despite being over 25 years old, feels fresh and new. A radically different style, Brian Bolland manages to capture the startling insanity and personal tragedy of the Joker, as well as crafting extremely haunting backgrounds, full of tension and emotion. And with an animated movie slated for a 2016 release based upon this graphic novel, the time is perfect to pick up this story for yourself, and immerse yourself in one of the most tense, gripping, and classic stories ever created. I would rate Batman: The Killing Joke as a perfect 10 out of 10.