Home > comics, review > ‘Batman: The Killing Joke’: a comics review

‘Batman: The Killing Joke’: a comics review

Batman: The Killing Joke is a possible origin story offered by writer Alan Moore for the origins of the Joker character. This is short work, maybe an issue or two at the longest. Despite its short length it is one of the most acclaimed and popular stories in mainstream comics. Since I haven’t read it before (don’t judge me) and there’s been that demand for Alan Moore works I decided to review it. With that, Batman: The Killing Joke!


Despite it’s short length this is a heavy piece of work. The exposition is quick, but also works well. While there is a possible explanation for the Joker’s past, he himself admits to being an unreliable narrator for his past, putting the narrative in question. It’s devices like this that make The Killing Joke an intelligent read. The juxtaposition between the Joker and Batman is interesting. The Joker himself becomes almost sympathetic with Moore’s writing. Moore works in a great deal of material in a short amount of time that most larger works miss or could only do in lengthy narratives. The Killing Joke uses each panel to its greatest extent for explaining the narrative. The final result is fantastic.


It wasn’t until the very last page that I really appreciated Brian Bolland’s art. I’m not saying that it’s not good throughout the narrative. Bolland’s art is typical of the ’80s DC works, but that’s not a bad thing. For the most part it does its job at conveying the narrative. The character designs are good. Bolland also does justice to the far more disturbing aspects of the narrative. However, that last page is easily the strongest, in terms of art, in the whole volume. It conveys effectively the relationship between Batman and the Joker. It goes through the action, as well as gives off the atmosphere in only 9 panels. That’s talent.

Final Opinion:

The Killing Joke is proof that Alan Moore is a multi-talented writer. In the previous review of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen I mentioned that Moore was capable of fun adventure stories, but here Moore is capable of complex and interesting character studies. And that’s exactly what The Killing Joke, a character study on the Joker and his relationship with Batman. This is definitely one of the essential works of the Batman universe. While it’s not wholly a ‘Batman comic’ it should be read by anyone who enjoys the character.

Batman is owned by DC Comics. Batman: The Killing Joke is written by Alan Moore and drawn by Brian Bolland.

Categories: comics, review Tags: , , , , ,
  1. Mario
    January 27, 2012 at 7:19 am

    “While there is a possible explanation for the Joker’s past, he himself admits to being an unreliable narrator for his past, putting the narrative in question”.

    I have to disagree with that opinion, because the recolection of the Joker´s past its not narrated by the Joker himself, but by the writer (Alan Moore), who is the most reliable source of information about the story thats being told. Therefore, the flashback of Joker´s past that we see in the Killing Joke, is not what the Joker wants some character inside the comic to believe, instead its the writer himself, who is impartial to any character, who is in plain words telling us, the readers about the Joker´s past. In that order of ideas we can conclude that the mentioned portrail of his origin is reliable.

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