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I thought this was a good opportunity to review the graphic novel Batman: The Killing Joke, since the movie had been released on Monday, and I went with Nya to the cinema. We had a great time (we surely enjoyed the gold class, with the recliner luxury seats and the free popcorn) but I will talk more about it another time for the movie review. Today, the spotlight will be on the graphic novel. I will review the deluxe edition from 2008 as I haven’t had the chance to read the original one.

Batman: The Killing Joke is a psychological horror story of 48 pages. Batman comes to the conclusion that his relationship with the Joker will end with one of them killing the other. The mad criminal escapes from Arkham and kidnaps James Gordon with the purpose of driving him insane. This is one bad day for the commissioner who must be rescued by the vigilante of Gotham as the clock is ticking. In this deluxe edition, Tim Sale grants us a personal introduction while Brian Bolland does the afterword.

I have only read this edition and I have to say that Tim Sale’s introduction is a perfect starter before we get into the story. He tells us how it was back then, during the time of Watchmen and The Dark Knight. He describes his feelings about this insane story about the Joker and how this reprinted edition is different – in a good way – from the original. Then he tells us the chills he gets; the ones you start having too as you turn the page. And right there the story begins, with two pages devoid of dialogue where we see a determined Batman on his way to the asylum on a rainy day. And it feels as if we were there with him.

Through the comic, you can only witness precision. Brian Bolland gets you into this story through his detailed lines and impeccable colours. He is an incredible penciller and an amazing colourist. Nothing is random and everything suits Alan Moore’s style. The plot is captivating. It only takes 48 pages to live through a bad day of the Bat and his Nemesis, also involving commissioner Gordon and his daughter. But we also learn a story about one of the origins of the Joker as we get some flashbacks from his previous life. We discover what kind of person he was before and what turned him into “this”. We even start feeling for him because of the tragedy he lived. But this is only one interpretation about his transformation. As we know, the true mystery of the Joker is that he has multiple pasts. In fact, he prefers his past to be “multiple choice”. He doesn’t stick to the memories, so he embraces insanity. The only fact we know for sure, is that for this insanity to happen, all it took was one bad day. On the other hand, one bad day made Batman forge himself (we all know his bad day was having witnessed the murder of his parents) Instead of falling into insanity like the Joker, Batman decided to fight and give a meaning to his life despite what happened. But as they are polar opposites, they are both the creation from a tragic event and this is the whole point of the Joker. This is where their psychological fight stands. Everyone can go mad. It only takes one bad day.

The afterword is only a few pages written, penciled and colored by Bolland that doesn’t directly connect to the Killing Joke. We can see that as a simple extra, even though I didn’t feel really thrilled about it. In fact, it’s a little bit of a turn off to read it after Moore’s story. But the art is still pleasant.

Madness is the emergency exit. Click To Tweet

This graphic novel is brilliant. It’s 48 pages of an intense chase between Batman and Joker resulting in the end of this relationship. The beauty between the two is how similar they are in their experience, but opposite in what they became. While Moore drags us into his deep and twisted story, along with the tragic past of the notorious villain, Bolland brings the required atmosphere to fit. He managed to give deep emotions to the characters. Some close-up are astonishing and we can only empathize with the characters. We feel pain and terror all along. The pace accelerates and the tension grows as we dive into insanity. Tim Sale’s introduction is a perfect starter and the format is impeccable. Just like the whole story indeed.

Final Verdict:

To me, this is Platinum.

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  1. Nice review here! I am not sure of what had happened to Joker before being one now not until I bumped into your blog. It hinted me that he has a bad past as to why he became like that and just what your review says, it is indeed because of his past. I have watched several batman cartoon series. Had watched the movies too it’s just that I don’t get the chance to finish it. lol but if ever I’d be able to free my time, I’ll surely challenge myself this time to finish the movie.
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  2. Wow batman in horrible comics seems quite interesting to me. Really good review, thanks for sharing with us.

  3. Its so mysterious that joker can be funny scary and be a perfect villian. I just love it. I haven’t got time to read it yet. But definitely gonna read it ASAP.
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  4. Great review! I haven’t read it yet so i can’t wait to do it now, you intrigued me! I’ve always loved the Joker, he’s my favorite villain
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  5. So cute that you can geek out with your girlfriend. I don’t know a thing about comics, my boyfriend does. It’s usually hard for him to explain stories, but I always make him do it because I like listening to him. Hope to know more about Batman.
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  6. Great write up! I’m not a batman fan but am intrigued after reading your post. Hope I can get my hands on this comic book!

  7. As a writer/illustrator, graphic novels and comic books are things I get pleasure from, especially if the art style and story line meet on the same level. I’m not new to the Batman/Joker world (DC & Marvel comics are awesome for the most part), so this was a great review to bring back memories of the whole Batman universe. Alan Moore ROCKS. The Killing Joke turned out to be pretty sad, but in an awesome kind of way.
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  8. Hm , even that I am so not into Batman and friends , your posts are so ‘pulsating’ written that I could become a fan of all this at the end ! LOL Very neat post !!!
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  9. Wow..I am suddenly discovering a whole new world. This book review is certainly very detailed and captured my attention. One of my cousin’s is heavily into animation, will pass on this one to him.

  10. I didn’t knew a lot about Batman and the other side of stories but surely, you deliver it right. I had fun reading the story. I had a lesson to learn.

  11. My x boyfriend used to tell me a lot about batman since he love the guy so much. I loved listening about him and joker but I didn’t have the chance to read it by myself. I am facinated about superheroes. I might read one soon

  12. I haven’t see the movie (yet) or read the comic. Loved to read the review. It’s sounds like a comic I’d want to read. The series Gotham really made me love Batman, so now I’m more interested in everything around it. And I like the Joker. It sounds like the graphics are awesome, makes me curious! I’ll check out some more.
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  13. Amazing review as always, you did a good job describing the feelings of reading the Killing Joke. I have yet to finish the graphic novel but I did like what I’ve seen of the art so far. Somehow, it seems to have more impact than the animation movie, which I still enjoyed and thought was great.
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  14. Nice write up. I am nw hungry for free popcorn.

  15. Great review! Love the The Killing Joke, but then I love anything by the great Alan Moore. Bolland’s visuals are top notch throughout, one of my all time favourite artists, but I must say I prefer the original colour work by John Higgins.

    • Thank you ! I’m a very big fan too and still, I havn’t read everything from him yet ! I wish I’ll have my hand on the original colour at some point, I generally prefer when it’s the original material. But Bolland’s visuals are really amazing. I definitely froze on some close-up, the way the characters appear just like in real. It’s rare to find such an impeccable work on comics. I felt the same way an amazing actors make you feel his performance. I forgot to mention but for me this is probably the most beautiful I’ve read so far
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