Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore & Brian Bolland ~ Book Review

Book review finally after a loooongg time – I Kick-start 2019 right here and I am NOT DISAPPOINTED AT ALL

“It is going to be dark and graphic, so araamse”, was the one advice given to me (along with the recommendation of it by the same person – Sarath) before I started it. Now, I have never shied away from dark or graphic or harrowing. One may say, I specialize in it – the darkness. So, all I heard out of the warning was an emphatic shout of “GO READ IT RIGHT NOW, IT IS SOOOOO DISTURBING.”

So here I am. And my heart is still beating fast. This was SOOOO good.

We bought the Deluxe Edition of “Batman : The Killing Joke” because it looked magnificent. And when we received it, the joy knew no bounds because it was exactly how we had imagined it to be. Sturdy hardbound, glossy pages, brilliant dash of colors, a riot of images – with a solid introduction by Tim Sale and an afterword by Brian Bolland. The latter has colored this one entirely fresh. (As he says this is exactly how he had always wanted the colors to be and that the ones who have read the earlier editions can find this to be a “spot a difference” book because there are some faces redrawn and some added in a few illustrations.)

The Joker, as we know our arch nemesis, was once an average citizen of Gotham city. What happened to him one fateful day, that changed the course of his story entirely, is what we get to know in this one. His journey from an innocent person who had to be protected, to a formidable, vicious foe of the exact people he once belonged to, as depicted in this volume, is spine-chilling to say the least.

The story moves back and forth.

There is a riot of colors and if one reads minutely through the illustrations, one finds some hues like the reds in the flashbacks and the greens in the present getting darker and stronger as the story strengthens (or maybe it was just me, but hey, that’s the fun, no?).

Some monologues of The Joker (which I shall quote later) are so hypnotic in it they create an atmosphere of their own. There is a scene where the illustration shows the books that the earlier person that the Joker was, presumably read, which I found to be a pretty interesting detail. It is graphic and violent in places so this is a trigger warning, but if you manage to get past it, it is an experience. There are big reveals and horrible setbacks and I was in wonderment of the art of Alan Moore in that he managed to fit it all in such a slim volume.

The Joker shines like a light in this one, despite all the darkness.

The book is known to have one legendary ending, but out of the fear of spoilers, I have very carefully avoided speaking about it. (anyone wants to discuss, please do so in the comments with the requisite spoiler alert)

I will leave you with a few photographs and monologues –

“Remembering’s dangerous. I find the past such a worrying anxious place. Memory’s so treacherous. One moment you’re lost in a carnival of delights, with poignant childhood aromas, the flashing neon of puberty, all that sentimental candy floss, the next, it leads you somewhere you don’t want to go…”

“Ladies and gentlemen! You’ve read about it in the newspapers! Now, shudder as you observe, before your very eyes, that most rare and tragic of nature’s mistakes! I give you…. THE AVERAGE MAN! Physically unremarkable, it has instead a deformed set of values. Notice the hideously bloated sense of humanity’s importance. The club-footed social conscience and the withered optimism.”

“You had a bad day, and it drove you as crazy as everybody else… Only you won’t admit it!”

“I mean, you’re not unintelligent! You must see the reality of the situation. Do you know how many times we’ve come close to World War three over a flock of geese in a computer screen? Do you know what triggered the last world war? An argument over how many telegraph poles Germany owed its war debt creditors. Telegraph Poles! Why can’t you see the funny side?”

Go read it if you haven’t yet and come scream out how you found it.


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