misterj's Batman: The Killing Joke #1 - The Killing Joke review

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One bad day

Ah, The Killing Joke. Where to begin? Not only is it one of Alan Moore's finest works, it's the greatest Joker story ever told, and one of the best Batman books in general. For a basic plot summary, The Joker has once again broken out of Arkham Asylum, and he's out to prove a point.  That point being that one bad day can make any man, no matter how sane, snap. He even stoops so low that he comes to Commisioner Gordon's house, shoots his daughter, all while cracking a few jokes. It's scenes like this that make you sort of hate the Joker, his cruelty knows no bounds. So much later, Gordon wakes to find himself in some sort of demented carnival. He's stripped down and led to the Joker himself. Joker gives an interesting speech here. He states that no matter how many things go wrong in life, you always have madness. Madness is an "emergeny exit"...you just go crazy, and leave behind all those dreadful things that happend. In a weird way, this makes you feel a little sympathetic for Joker. Throughout the story, brief flashbacks are shown when Joker was nothing more than a failed comedian, trying to make ends meet for his wife and unborn child. It's an interesting, and pretty creepy origin story. Moore once again does a great job of writing the Joker. He makes you hate him for all the evil things he's doing, but also makes you understand WHY Joker is the way he is. He just had a bad day...and snapped. So, anyway....Joker sends Gordon on a carnival ride. Joker appears on the TV screens, and begins singing some song about going crazy. It's a little funny, but a bit sick in a way. Lyrics include, "You can trade your gloom for a rubber room, and injections twice a day!" As Joker sings, pictures of Barabara begin to appear on the screens. But they're not regular photos...it's Barbara, naked on the floor, bleeding from a gunshot wound. Joker does all this in an attempt to drive Gordon over the edge...and it almost works. Gordon screams, and the carnival ride ends. Even after all that, Joker continues laughing. Meanwhile...Batman confronts Barbara in the hospital. She goes on to say it's different this time...you didnt see his eyes. So, what does this say about the Joker? Has he crossed the line this time? Eventually Batman goes hunting for the Joker, interrogating thugs to find his whereabouts. Batman then receives an invitation to the Joker's carnival. More flashbacks are shown, showing the man who would be the Joker get involved with some crooks to help pay for his upcoming family. He would be disguised as the "Red Hood", and infiltrate the company he used to work at. Here, you could never believe this man would become the Joker. He's just a simple crook. But it gets worse...the police confront him and tell him that his wife and unborn child died in an accident. This is where his "bad day" starts. Still, he hasn't gone crazy yet. He's still forced to participate in the heist, but when things go wrong, Batman shows up and confronts the Red Hood. Red Hood is clearly scared out of his mind, and falls (or jumps, i can't really tell) into a pool of chemicals. He emerges from the water, and takes off the hood. He sees what he has become, and finally snaps. This one bad day gave birth to the Joker. I think this is a great scene because..it's techincally Batman and Joker's first meeting. And it begs the question, "Did Batman create The Joker?" You would think Batman could've saved him if he wanted to. And maybe that's why Joker is so fixated on Batman. Maybe he thinks Batman is responsible for what happened to him. It's an interesting thing...but back to the story. Batman arrives at Joker's carnival. Batman and Joker engage in a brief fight, before Joker escapes into his fun house. Batman helps Gordon, but as it turns out, Gordon is still as sane as he ever was. This shows that under pressure, not everybody snaps. If you are strong enough, a bad day won't drive you over the edge. So in a way, it was in Joker's head the whole time. So anyway, Batman bursts into the fun house to catch Joker. (This is my favorite part.) Joker begins talking over the intercom. He goes on about how the world isn't that different than him. One bad day could make anybody as crazy as he is. He states that Batman must have had a bad day too, implying that he's also insane, but won't admit it. Joker laughs at the craziness of the world, and asks why Batman can't see the funny side. Batman simply says he's heard it before...and it wasn't funny the first tme. They get in a fight, and Joker becomes enraged that his plan didn't drive Gordon insane. Joker pulls a gun on Batman, but it's empty. Batman begins talking about how they don't need to kill each other. He says he can put the Joker back on track, that he can help him. Joker says its too late for that...and tells a joke realting to the situation. Joker laughs uncontrollably, and even Batman laughs with him. It's a great moment that shows maybe they don't hate each other as much as it seems. Maybe they're a bit alike. After all, one bad day both made them what they are today. So overall...wow. This book revolutionized my love for Batman (and Joker). It made me understand their realtionship much more, and gave me a bigger respect for the characters. If you are a comic fan, at ALL...go read this. You won't regret it. 
 
"Smile!"

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