Not All Jokes Are Funny...

by - 3:00 PM

In December I got the ambitious idea of sharing my geekiness by doing comic book reviews on this blog. In January I posted my first review. So far so good. Then I asked if people wanted to see reviews of certain comic books they liked. I regret asking, because that's how I ended up writing this review. Brace yourselves, ladies and gentlemen, it's going to be a heavy post...

So... The Killing Joke. Not an easy one to review. Let me just start with the basics. Remember my review on Miss Marvel? How fun and (mostly) light-hearted and bubbly that comic book was? Well, The Killing Joke is the complete opposite. It's dark gritty and focuses on one of the most memorable villains in the DC Universe (and every other universe as well if you ask me): the Joker. Yes, we do get to see Batman, but the Joker is definitely more important here.
There are multiple Joker origin stories, but The Killing Joke is the origin story to many, which makes up about half of the plot of this comic. We get a bit of an insight in his life before he became the Joker, and let me tell you this: it all explains so much. When I was a kid, the Joker seemed like an impossible caricature to me. Now that I'm an adult (okay only by law and not by maturity) I still have questions about the character, but The Killing Joke managed to answer all of them and only raised one new question. You see, just before he became the Joker, he lost everything: his job (which he gave up to become a comedian), his wife and his unborn child. That's all pretty traumatic, but seeing that he had a high function at a factory that works with chemicals I wonder why he didn't ask his job back, since there probably aren't all that many people who could fill that position. He could've prevented ending up like this by simply trying to get his job back.
So that's the Joker part of the story, which is by far the most interesting part of the book, because it also plays with our concept of sanity and insanity. Since I've been so focused on this guy, you might start to wonder where Batman sweeps in to kick the Joker's ass. Batman's plotline didn't impress me all that much. Basically the Joker shoots Batgirl and kidnaps Commissioner Gordon to a weird ass lunapark. Of course Batman chases the Joker to save Gordon. Along the way he has some deep thoughts about the destructive relationship between himself and the Joker. You can probably tell by my tone that this part didn't interest me as much as the Joker's origin story. But put these two story lines together and you've got a plot as solid as I've ever seen one!

To be honest, the story was about the last reason why I picked this comic book up though. In fact I don't think I would have read it if my mom hadn't found a Dutch copy at the local thrift shop. Yes, a Dutch copy. That's part of the reason why I felt weird reading it. All due respect to my native language, but it doesn't work very well in comic books, at least not in my opinion. And look at this. What does that even say? It looks so messed up...

Okay, moving on, because I doubt any of you guys will face that language problem, so let me move on to something I love: the art. The art of The Killing Joke isn't just art, it's Art with a capital letter A. Every line, every shadow, every detail is perfect. Sometimes the colors make a page a little monochromatic, but believe me when I say it serves a purpose. It's not just the cover that looks great (which by the way has the German word for 'joker' on it right on the lens of the camera) no, the entire book is filled with gems like this one.
If the art hadn't been simply gorgeous I don't know how much I'd have liked this book. You see, besides the Joker's origin story this comic book focuses on the fine line between being okay and being insane. It's a pretty heavy topic, but I have to say it was handled well, even thought it made me uncomfortable as eff most of the time. I guess this is also one of the reasons why The Killing Joke is actually a graphic novel and not a comic book. So sorry for calling it a comic book the entire time. Apparently comics that handle such a heavy topic are graphic novels. Another reason why it's a graphic novel is probably the symbolism that's supposed to make you use your brain a lot, of which it has plenty. Take these panels for example.
First time I read it (I've read it thrice now), I had no idea what this was supposed to be. Then I realized: Batman on one side, the Joker on the other; the line between sane and insane disappears. Apparently this is the most famous theory on these panels, but I don't think a lot of people will come to this conclusion upon first read. It took my dad and me multiple discussions to figure out if this could be it, or if we were just horribly ignorant and wrong.

All in all I'm impressed every time I read this book, but also feeling a little uneasy. It's an interesting read, beautiful as well. But would I recommend it? Well, it depends. If you want to know more about the Joker, then yes. If you're new to the comic book world, this isn't the best place to start.

x Envy

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14 Fellow Ramblers

  1. The Killing Joke is hands down one of my favorites. People like to hate on Batman, but I love him. This story takes the dimensions of him and the Joker to a new, darker place that I love. A lot of the relationship between the pair is about sanity, and this story really digs into that. I saw the movie in theaters, and it was soooo good. Well, the prologue they added was meh and insulting, but once they got to the actual story, it was amazing. Great review! xx

    Breanna Catharina
    toocuteforlife.com

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    1. People don't hate on Batman when they're around me. They're not allowed to. If they think Batman is lame, I'll teach them a lesson!
      I haven't seen the movie, heard a lot about it though. Maybe one day I'll watch it and write a comparison post. I'm quite curious now.

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    2. What people hate on Batman? Who are these people? Why do they exist?

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  2. Try Hush or Death in Family next :D

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    1. When the comic book store stocks up on DC again I probably will, but they only seem to have Marvel stuff at the moment

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    2. You know how I feel about that. Support local businesses and all that stuff!

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  3. YOU'RE BACK WOOOOHOOO!! I've missed you!!

    This was really interesting, how in dutch it doesn't really follow through as well - it really was lost in translation! The art looks amazing though!! Xx

    Love,

    Anne // www.aportraitofyouth.co.uk

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    1. Haha I see what you did there xD

      I like the idea of graphic novels but they're pretty rare and expensive here >_> the sanity / insanity thing sounds really interesting though!

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    2. The art makes up for everything the translation lacks. Great pun XD
      I guess graphic novels are quite expensive here too, but that's the beauty of thrift shops :) It's an interesting read, also quite unsettling actually. I'll definitely reread it a couple of times

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  4. The graphics look amazing, how interesting!

    Jessica | growchangeaccept.co.uk

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    1. This one has some of the best graphics I've ever seen. It's one of the reasons why I decided to write about it :)

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  5. Ooh nice review :) Now I'm definitely off to read your review of Ms Marvel because Kamala Khan = ultimate girl crush.
    I haven't read many DC, I have to admit I'm pretty much Marvel trash (unless it's The Name of The Rose, let's never talk about that). But I have seen The Killing Joke, and wow was it dark, darker than I expected.
    Cora | http://www.teapartyprincess.co.uk/

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    1. Thank you! I'm usually a complete Marvel fangirl, but I need my Batman every now and then. I haven't seen the movie yet, but I think I'm going to put it on my list now.

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