“Batman: The Killing Joke” by Alan Moore

Batman: The Killing Joke

(Author:Alan Moore) + (Year: 1988) + (Goodreads)


I will go in two directions with this review:

I. The Killing Joke on its own.
II. The Killing Joke as a Batman book.


For me, the most spectacular thing about The Killing Joke was the art. It’s mesmerizing and beautiful, despite how long a time has passed since the book was created. The illustrations greatly support the entire story, they are spooky, disturbing and masterful. I especially liked the close ups of the Joker, which, for some reason, made him more palpable to me.

The Joker’s back story was a needed answer to my questions as to his personality. I know that there are many theories about him, but this, as a resemblance of one, was interesting to me.

That is not to say that I liked the execution of it. The first part, where the Joker’s wife was introduced was very promising. The conclusion was also expected, but my expectations were perhaps a bit higher than the reality of it, because the Red Hood story fell flat for me. The ending of it was vague all on its own and having not read the old Red Hood stories, I wasn’t sure what the significance of the hood was overall.

As to the idea that one day can make you mad… Do I believe that? I am not sure. However, the Joker failed spectacularly in proving it and I don’t think it was a plan ever having a chance of success. Therefore, doesn’t this lower the value of the Joker as a villain? I think so. The entire story makes him seem more realistic, taking his origins into account, but him, being so disgracefully proven wrong and beaten by Batman – that somewhat ruins the gruesome story that could have come out of the Joker’s past.

I have already read the newest reincarnation of Batgirl but the story of Barbara here had an entirely different gravitas. Her being shot and stripped was much more vile and disturbing than it probably is anywhere else. Because usually villains are created out of violence… outside of Batman’s world, of course.


I now know that Batman is not my cup of tea. I tried my best to distance myself from that idea and to just experience this entire novel all on its own.

Because frankly, I cannot stand Batman as a character. There is a huge discrepancy between the idea that one person can be both a charming billionaire and womanizer and the brutish, brooding Prince of Doom and Gloom. I am not sold at all on him as a person whatsoever. It puzzles me why everyone would worship him on the basis of him being a billionaire crime-fighter with a hard life. I have yet to see one book or movie where it is actually proven that he has anything to offer to anyone, as a human being. He even fights evil just so he can resolve his personal issues, not because he has morals and values life. I do not believe that is the story at all.

In this book we saw him only as the Bat. Bruce Wayne never even made an appearance. And still, this is the most beloved Batman novel ever, as far as I can see. How does that happen? Because no one ever cares about him as a person. It is only the justification of his issues, which he takes out on people, that readers associate with.


3 thoughts on ““Batman: The Killing Joke” by Alan Moore

  1. Michael J. Miller says:

    (For those of you in internet land who haven’t read this book before, I’ve got a spoiler-ish comment. It’s a much discussed part of the book but still, you’ve been warned.)

    There’s a lot of comic book debate over the final page of the book. A great many fans think that the Joker ends up being proven right and that he pushes Batman too far and Batman finally kills him. In the panel, you see Batman with his hands on the Joker’s neck, then the shot of their feet where the laughing inexplicably stops and the headlights turn off (mirroring the story Joker just told where one insane person kills the other by turning off the light). I struggle with this a lot. I can TOTALLY see it fitting, as this was originally intended as a non-canon Elseworlds story. But I don’t know if I can accept the Joker being right. The book is dark…but is it dark enough to say the Joker is right about human nature?!? What do you think about that possible read on the ending?? When you said you were reading it I was excited to get your thoughts on the debate!


    • jnikolova says:

      You know, when I saw that last panel, I decided that they are laughing for the first time as, not friends, but not enemies either, for a moment. I would like to think that that is what happened and that Batman decided just to let it go for a moment. But realistically speaking, it Batman did kill him, I would not accept it as him finally snapping and the Joker winning. Arguably, he kills a lot of unimportant nameless characters, so killing the Joker would sound ominous just in terms of the questions raised in this singular book, not as much if you look at it from the point of view that even not counting that night, the Joker is still dangerous and also unrelenting, so chances of him changing his mind about killing people, in general, are slim.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Michael J. Miller says:

        I REALLY like your read, of the two of them just breaking the tension and laughing together. You’re right, it doesn’t fit the overall tone of the book, but it’s a vision of the ending that sure makes me happy :).


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