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Batman The Killing Joke


The Killing Joke is one of the most popular Batman stories ever. Mastermind Alan Moore wrote this one-shot story to give a more detailed origin of Batman‘s worst enemy, the Joker. Also this story provides why Barbara Gordon becomes paralyzed and can‘t be Batgirl anymore, which led her to become Oracle.

There are actually two plots in The Killing Joke. The man who will become the Joker is an ordinary guy. He works as an engineer and has a pregnant girlfriend Jeannie. We don‘t get to know his real name. The engineer is desperate about his job, he wants to quit and become a comedian instead (where is failing, too). So he meets two guys who want to rob the chemical plant where the Joker worked previously to his attempts to become a comedian. They meet in a bar to talk about the details of their robbery. Soon two police officers enter the bar and walk straight to the threesomes table. They tell the engineer that his girlfriend died in a household accident. In his desperation he is willing to help the criminals.

Right before they get into the chemical plant the Joker has to wear a red helmet, which should make everyone think that the Red Hood is the driving force behind this act. They enter the plant but get recognized by some security guards, who start to shoot at them. The trio wants to escape but Batman enters the plant as well. The Joker gets panic and wants to escape so desperatly that he jumps into one of the fabrics chemical waste pound locks. Finally he is free and gets out of the chemical plant. He finds himself outside, to his horror he sees a reflection in the waterfront. It‘s his own but his skin is chalkwhite, he has a psychotic grin on his face, bloodred lips and green dyed hair. This look drives him insane and so the Joker is born.

The present day story is mostly about Commissioner Gordon. He is in his appartment along with his daughter Barbara, who is also Batgirl. The doorbell is rining and Barbara opens the door. In front of her is the Joker and some guys of his gang. The Joker shoots at Barbara, who falls to the ground. The group kidnaps Gordon and take him to a rundown funpark. There Gordon gets taken all of his clothes and caged in. He has to witnis a bizarre freak show including pictures of his shot daughter from different views and in different positions. The Joker wants to drive him mad to prove that even the most upstanding man can get mad after having a bad day.

Batman can‘t help his friend until the Joker sends him a message about Gordon and where he is. The dark knight can locate Gordon, while the Joker retreats into a funhouse. Finally Batman wants to kill the joker, but the commissioner tells him not to do. He should prove the Joker that their values are better than the Joker‘s cruel ones. In the funhouse Batman has to face the Joker‘s traps, but in the end he finds his enemy. The Joker wants to prove to Batman that everboy can become insane and that he should join the vilian‘s side to rule over Gotham. Instead of joining, the midnight detective offers his help, because he knows that this fight will last forever or until one of them dies. The Joker doesn‘t want his help. Though, instead of keep on fighting, he tells a joke. The last pictures of The Killing Joke show Batman and the Joker laughing about the joke, while waiting for the police.

The Killing Joke is one of the most important comics in the history of Batman. There are many referrences you might notice in Christopher Nolan‘s The Dark Knight trilogy. For example that the Joker wants to drive Gotham‘s most upstanding man insane. In The Dark Knight it‘s not Gordon who should become insane, it‘s Harvey Dent after his transition into Two-Face due to a cruel game by the Joker. that killed his girlfriend Rachel and burnt half of his face. The paralysis of Barbara Gordon is also important for the Batman canon. She can‘t fight at the dark knight‘s side as Batwoman anymore. She turns into Oracle and provides help for the midnight detective like informations. This is the second time the Joker does big harm to the Batman camp. It was not long before The Killing Joke that the Joker killed Batman‘s newest version of Robin, Jason Todd.

For many fans this is the best Joker story ever. And they are propably right about this. The Killing Joke is a masterpiece. Every Batman fan should have read this story and re-read it over and over again. It‘s almost as influental as Year One.

Text © by Sebastian Berning