"For the first time the Joker's origin is revealed in this tale of insanity and human perseverance. Looking to prove that any man can be pushed past his breaking point and go mad, the Joker attempts to drive Commissioner Gordon insane..."
I purchased Batman: The Killing Joke on kind of a whim. I had been perusing graphic novels on Amazon thanks to Grim (*waves to Grim*) who inspired me with her Deadpool
posts. I guess Amazon's recommendation system picked up on my newfound interest in graphic novels, so this lovely gem appeared in my email as a rec. The cover screamed, "buy me! buy me!", and the story synopsis sounded intriguing so I thought, why not?
"There were these two guys in a lunatic asylum..."
Batman: The Killing Joke is a dark tale that predominately features the Joker. He executes a diabolical plan in order to prove a point: that anyone can be driven insane by one bad day. Ultimately, though, his true goal is to prove to Batman that they are not all that different from each other. That they are two sides of the same coin, both suffering irreparable damage due to life’s cruel forces.
I loved how one of the Joker’s backstories was incorporated-- seen in flashbacks and used as a way to further punctuate the Joker’s point. There was also this great joke he tells Batman which was not only funny, but which also fit this theme quite nicely.
As to the artwork itself, it’s wonderful. This is the deluxe edition which features a more stark and muted color palette than the original version first released in 1988. As artist Brian Bolland explains in the afterword, “[b]ack in the pre-computer days of ‘blue line’, airbrush and poster colors, even though I had specific views on how I wanted it to look, I wouldn’t have been able to color it myself. It’s probably well known that John’s [the original colorist] choice of colors turned out to be startlingly at odds with what I had in mind so, in February 2007, when Bob Harras told me about this edition, I said, “PLEASE can I recolor the whole thing?”
I can see why he wanted the change. The colors he chose match the dark tone and themes perfectly.
The deluxe edition also includes a short story entitled “An Innocent Guy”. This short originally appeared in black and white in a 1996 Batman Black and White anthology series. Here it is featured in full glorious color. Both the artwork and story are stunning. I was blown away by it:
If I had to rate it, I would give it 5 stars.
The deluxe edition also includes a few preliminary sketches of both the Killing Joke and “An Innocent Guy”, as well as a little bit of history for each sketch.
So, to conclude this loooong and rambling review, thank goodness for lack of impulse control or I may never have experienced this delightful book. Batman: The Killing Joke is a welcome addition to my library.
Final rating: 4 stars