Having never really paid much attention to the Batman series in the past, I have seen various films but I have never taken an interest in the back story, until now:
Since discovering the Legendary deck building game by Marvel I have become intrigued with the Marvel and DC universes. Whilst on the face of it, Batman stories are based on Bruce Wayne’s alter ego and various super-villains within Gotham. It is when you look into the earlier stories and character back stories, such as the killing joke, that the batman series begins to make sense.
I have literally just finished the 2008 edition of The Killing Joke graphic novel, while I thoroughly enjoyed it, I do feel it is lacking in certain areas. Firstly, I felt that the end of the story was very ambiguous, something that the writer, Alan Moore addresses in the re edition but still, to me the story felt as if it had been cut of half way through. Also as Alan also points out, it doesn’t necessarily make sense to have an origin story for the joker. As the joker states, he remembers the incident which turned him mad differently all the time, the creators seem to be limiting themselves by giving a definitive story rather than having multiple options, potentially left inconclusive to keep some of the mystery and creepiness around the joker character as I found myself actually sympathizing with the character after reading his back story, which is not how I want to feel towards one of the greatest super villain characters ever created.
I did however, really like how dark and sinister the artwork and story were. Moore has recolored the comic books as he was unhappy with the original artwork, he says he also made other small edits so each page has slight changes in them. One particular point he makes is how he changes the flash back scenes to black and white, yet chooses one item per cell which is extremely red in colour.
So a quick overview of the story is that the joker escapes from Arkham Asylum, upon escaping he visits the commissioner of the Gotham city police, James Gordon in an attempt to drive him insane and to understand the joker, that he is no different to anyone else, he was driven to madness and madness is easier than dealing with reality. Joker shoots commissioner Gordon’s daughter Barbara (aka Batgirl) and subjects the commissioner to images of his daughter, naked and bleeding on the floor after the incident whilst holding the commissioner in his freak show as a man with belief in good and order as his freakish point. Obviously the Joker fails and is caught by Batman.
It has been announced that an animated version of the killing joke is to be made, and Mark Hamill has been confirmed to voice the Joker. Bruce Timm is set to produce the film which should be released in 2016. It has also been reported that there will be a 15 minute prologue to set up the story, which may go further into the back story of the Jokers madness.
After reading this I have also got Batman: the man who laughs, which is the 2005 follow up novel to the killing joke and Arkham asylum. I opted for Arkham asylum purely because of the story, it revolves round the Joker and other inmates trying to take over the asylum, the asylum also plays a central role in the upcoming Suicide Squad film from DC, which includes Jared Leto taking up a new Joker.
What are your favorite graphic novels or DC/Marvel stories?