Sunday, December 11, 2011

Batman: The Killing Joke, by Alan Moore


Decent enough graphic novel, if not quite up to the standard set by Lovers and Madmen and The Dark Knight Returns.  Here, the newly escaped (again) Joker shoots and paralyzes Commissioner Gordon's daughter Barbara (a.k.a Batgirl), and then kidnaps the Commissioner himself, with the goal of driving him insane. If successful, the Joker hopes to prove that all sane men are just one bad day away from insanity, and there's not such a difference between the light and the dark after all.

The illustrations are extremely well done, and the concept is interesting.  And the setting for the Joker's 'experiment'--an abandoned carnival--has a lot of potential.  But the Joker's depraved creativity seems a bit sub-par in comparison to his other exploits.  Though, to be fair, I suspect this is mostly due to the different in length--Lovers and Madmen clocked in at about 140 pages, and this is less than half that.  So really, the Joker is barely getting started on Commissioner Gordon by the time the cavalry arrives.  As a result, the fact that the 'experiment' was not successful in this case doesn't necessarily mean it wouldn't be, especially if the Joker were given more time to exercise his disturbing genius.  And indeed, the Commissioner's mental fortitude would be much more impressive if the Joker had held him in his clutches a bit longer.

Still, it's not bad by any means.  And the undercurrent of darkness that lurks behind the best Batman graphic novels is definitely there.  But it's not one of my favorites.

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