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"Batman: The Killing Joke" Talkback (Spoilers)

Discussion in 'DC Comics and Collectibles' started by James Harvey, Oct 13, 2002.

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Rate and Comment on "The Killing Joke"

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  1. Shawn Hopkins

    Shawn Hopkins TZ Member of the Year 2013

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    Obviously Batman won't continue after he kills the Joker. Gordon wouldn't allow it, for one, and Bruce wouldn't want to do it any more. This act is the end. That's not explored because of how the book ends, but it's there.

    Closing the book with the same structure that began it is a powerful effect, but I think of it as more zooming in to Batman's world for one last time and zooming out when it's done. It doesn't explain away the symbolism of the light. We were just given a powerful and memorable example of the light turning off, with very clear implications as to what it means to the hopelessness of the Joker and Batman's struggle, and then we see it happen symbolically. Also, in the beginning, Batman is going to Arkham to offer the Joker (he thinks) a final chance, so maybe this is when the light is switched on, the beginning of his final attempt at ending it without death, and with the Joker's death it is switched off.

    I don't think any energy is wasted at all. The question of whether or not Batman will kill the Joker drives the story at a fever pitch, and the fact that he possibly does provides an ending so shocking most people who note that possibility reject it and use the space created by the ambiguity to create a more acceptable one for themselves.

    And yeah, it is a "spectacular failure" when he kills him. It's not a happy ending. The fatal dance has an inevitable unavoidable conclusion. Even if Batman did slap the cuffs on and put the Joker in a police car, after what he learns in this story he knows one day he will have to kill the Joker or let the Joker kill him. Besides, the more depressing failure is that Batman can't save the Joker because, as the Joker recognizes, Batman himself is too broken to fix anyone.

    I don't think this is Moore's best work by a longshot. Neither the nihilistic end, nor the more positive possibility are really up there with the endings of his more personal work.But I think the death twist certainly fits everything that leads up to the end better.
     
    #81 Shawn Hopkins, Aug 24, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 24, 2013
  2. Ed Liu

    Ed Liu That's 'Cause I ATE IT!!!
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    I guess this is the summation of why I think the "Batman kills the Joker" interpretation is a waste of the energy you get by breaking the rules. Would Batman keep going? Would Gordon really try to stop him, considering what he and Barbara (especially Barbara) just went through? What would keep Batman going, and would he start down a slippery slope? How would Alfred or Nightwing react? My gut says that Batman would be the ONLY one in the cast that would seriously think about quitting -- everyone else would be spinning some variation on the usual Internet arguments of why the Joker should get the death penalty. You can see this played out in a different context in the BTAS episode "Over the Edge" where breaking the rules led to one of the best episodes of the series (and the ending breaks another rule and makes for one of the best single moments). But the point is that Batman breaking the rules and really killing the Joker is the START of something interesting. If it's the end, then it's not much more than an artful way to break your toys.
     
  3. Shawn Hopkins

    Shawn Hopkins TZ Member of the Year 2013

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    Allrighty, kids. We're STILL talking about this a quarter century later.

    The OTHER great killing joke controversy was always exactly what the Joker did to Batgirl. Some people think he just shot her and took some disturbing photos. Some people think she was also raped, molested, or sexually degraded in some way. This debate has raged among nerds for years.

    But now the original art for those pages has surfaced and it seems to add some weight to the darker interpretation. Barbara is topless in these images, looks like D.C. censors went back later and took it out.

    Nah, it's not definitive. She was clearly naked in the other images, too. But showing bare breasts lends itself to a more sexual interpretation, making it harder to argue that wasn't part of the Joker's intent. The cartoon breasts are censored, but this page is probably still not something you should look at at work or school.

    Does Original Killing Joke Artwork Reveal Greater Sexual Intent For Batgirl? - Bleeding Cool Comic Book, Movies and TV News and Rumors

    Even if it doesn't change anything, it's still fascinating to see how this changed and think about what it means for the original intent of the book. Brian Bolland must have thought he had freer reign than D.C. eventually decided to give him. I wonder if anything else changed?
     
  4. Ed Liu

    Ed Liu That's 'Cause I ATE IT!!!
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    I have to remember to check that out when I'm not at work, but I always thought that the ambiguity of that scene was part of the reason why it was brilliant. The fact that you know the Joker is capable of really, truly monstrous acts and the fact that nothing is explicitly stated means that it's your imagination that's going to fill in the blanks, and your imagination is always going to be much more vivid (and almost certainly worse) than anything that could be shown explicitly on the page.

    I don't think that comic book nudity would really move that needle much in either direction, though.
     
  5. Hanshotfirst1138

    Hanshotfirst1138 Singing drunken lullabies

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    I agree. I think that he did something evil. Exactly what that implies is up to you, which is of course more effective.
     
  6. Wonder Woman

    Wonder Woman Well-Known Member

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    I'm not sure if anyone read Batgirl #49 (based on this forum basically noone is reading comics any more) but it looks like it can be interpreted that this story has been written out of continuity:

    http://www.ign.com/articles/2016/03/08/is-dc-changing-this-iconic-batman-story

    I picked up the issue and it can definitely be read both ways. It doesn't take away of what I think The Killing Joke is, which I think started out of continuity anyways I think, but I'm sure some people will be upset with this while others will applaud. Besides whatever happened here I'm sure will be retconned and changed down the road again anyways.
     
  7. Yojimbo

    Yojimbo Yes, have some.
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    It shows that I'm out of the loop but in the New 52, all of Barbara's backstory was still canon up this point?
     

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