Here’s my review for one of the most problematic graphic novels ever. It’s Batman: The Killing Joke, written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Brian Bolland.
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This is my second time reading this book. I read it firstly around this time of the year, in 2014. Back then I had no idea how controversial this title was so, even though I did like it (not as much as everyone else), I didn’t pay it much attention. After learning more about Batgirl and her trauma caused by the Joker, I decided to re-read this title and see at to what extent my opinion would change. My friend lent me her edition, which is in Spanish. It was a fun experience to say the least!
Alan Moore is one of the most notorious writers in the comic book industry. He has worked in several projects (including Watchmen, one of my favourite books of all time) and everything he touches seems to become gold, for the good or the bad.
In this particular title, Batman is once again after his arch-enemy, the Joker. This time he has kidnapped Commissioner Gordon and shot his daughter, Barbara. Batman realises he can no longer keep this cat and mouse game and that they’ll eventually have to kill each other.
I aways expected this book to blew me away. But it never does. Every time I read it, I end up feeling underwhelmed by it. From what I keep hearing, this comic changed the whole industry but I don’t fully get how it’s still relevant today. I see how it changed Batman and how much new information we receive from Joker’s background but, overall, it’s not that good. Sure, Alan Moore is a great writer and he definitely points out some pertinent questions about morality, sanity and crime but it’s not like I’ve never seen/heard it before. Maybe this is a wonder of its time. Maybe in the 80’s no one had said this things. But in 2015, even though I understand its importance, it doesn’t impact me that much.
Besides finding the story a little nhe, I do love that we learn more about the Joker. I know that his background isn’t always the same, that it depends on a lot of things but I really like the one from this story. I mean, the Joker is one of the best characters ever and, if I knew a bit more about him, he had potential to be one of my all time favs. Also, even though Batman is technically the main character of this book, Joker is the one that gets all the attention. I loved that!
What I did love, a lot, was the art. I tend to dislike older comics because the old style of drawing simply doesn’t appeal to me. But not with this one. The art is modern and beautiful. The whole crazy environment produced by the Joker is insane, in the best way possible. I love the colors and I feel like the artist capture what Moore wrote incredibly well.
I could go into the whole Barbara/Joker issue but I honestly don’t think I will add anything new to the whole issue. No, I don’t think Barbara deserved that treatment. But yes, I think we need to stop bringing her trauma up. She’s a great character and deserves to be referred more without the mention of her abuse. But that could be a whole post itself (and it will be, one day probably). Although you can be sure that I would love this book x100 better if none of that happened.
So, even though I wasn’t really impressed by this book the second time around either, I can’t say I disliked it. I see its importance and I loved a few things. It’s not my favourite, by far, but I would still recommend it. Specially if you like the Joker.
Please let me know if you’ve read this book and what you thought of it!
See you next time!