Batman The Killing Joke 20th Anniversary

Batman The Killing Joke has become such a part of the Batman mythos that it’s hard to imagine what the initial reception was like. A Prestige Format release in the vein of The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller, Killing Joke had a massive impact on readers immediately.

1988 Batman the Joker Killing Joke

A sophisticated tale from the British comic team of Alan Moore (fresh off of the Watchmen) and Brian Bolland (a stunning 2000 AD artist relatively unknown in the US), Killing Joke took the contemporary Batman universe and twisted it into a hard unrelenting knot. The character of the Joker was humanized for the first time with a full origin. Shown as the fall guy member of a gang of thugs, The Joker is conned into wearing a strange red hood to give their heist a more dramatic flair. The Red Hood is also a sure way to distract Batman who is drawn to outrageously dressed villains. As we all know, the heist goes sour and The Joker falls into a vat of chemicals that bleaches his skin and dyes his hair, turning him into the maniacal Joker.

The surprising part of Killing Joke is that for all the humanizing of the character of the Joker, it is without a doubt the most vicious and horrifying tale to feature the Clown Prince of Crime. The abduction of Commissioner Gordon and wounding of his daughter Barbara (formerly Batgirl) is just a first step in the torture of the forces of control that the Joker despises so much. I don’t want to spoil anything for those who have not read this classic, but it contains some truly unpleasant moments that added a new level of insanity and danger to the Joker that vivified a character who had become frankly tired (and just in time for the 1989 Batman movie).

The deluxe 20th Anniversary Edition of Batman The Killing Joke is hitting the shelves this Wednesday. Be sure to check it out and see why it is looked upon as the definitive Joker story and one of the most important Batman stories of the last 25 years… wait… it’s been 20 years!?


Batman: The Killing Joke 20th Anniversary Edition

8 thoughts on “Batman The Killing Joke 20th Anniversary

  1. Got my copy today. The new colours really change the focus. It’s muted, downbeat and melancholy. One bit reminds me of schindler’s list meets david lynch’s elephant man. I’ll not ruin anything for anyone just go out and see for yourselves. Also noticed, on just a cursory flick through, a couple of faces have been changed. I’m loving it. Thanks DC and BB for doing justice to my favourite artwork of all time.


  2. I own the original so I probably won’t buy this new one unless it just falls in my lap at a great price. I remember reading about this book in advance & being pretty excited. Then, when I found out they”pulled a George Lucas” & changed the color I was kinda mad a little bit. But, I think the re-coloring looks pretty cool. It does change the story though & the removal of the “yellow bat” logoon Batman’s chest is just weird.

    BATMAN FAN? Visit The Bat-Blog!

    Thanks, Tommy


  3. Still loving the book though I made the cardinal error of e mailing brian bolland to point out what I thought was a continuity error (it’s a grey area at best, won’t tell you what it is but some THING is missing) , he replied saying that although I was the only person to spot this he’d recall the entire print run and do it all again. Obviously the Bolland sarcasm at work but I wish I’d left well alone now. Aside from the Joker’s face, in the ‘past tense’ speech panel, being very asymetrical (grind my teeth every time i see that page) it’s as perfect a comic as has ever been produced. Has anyone else noticed any faults or discrepancies? If so don’t e mail Brian, you’ll hate yourself.


    • Thanks for the visit, I’ll be sure to peruse the article (good call on cutting out the Jim Lee, Michael Turner and Ed Benes versions). I’m always happy to see support drummed up for Norm Breyfogle who held the torch for Batman during the early 1990’s and even invented the grappling gun (at least to my knowledge) that almost every Batman cartoon and movie relies upon.


    • Richard, thanks for visiting! I could have sworn that I saw that image used as advertising in the monthly comics, no? Maybe it used another Killing Joke logo?

      Can you give a little detail on your work on the project and what you think of the result?


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