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Graphic Novel Review

Book Cover

The Killing Joke - The Deluxe Edition (Hardback)


Author: Alan Moore
Artist: Brian Bolland
Titan Books
RRP: £11.99, US $17.99, Cdn $21.99
ISBN-13: 978 1 84576 772 3
ISBN-10: 1 84576 772 1
Available 25 April 2008

One bad day. According to the grinning engine of madness and mayhem known as The Joker, that's all that separates the sane from the psychotic. Freed once again from the confines of Arkham Asylum, he's out to prove his deranged point. And he's going to use Gotham City's top cop, Commissioner Jim Gordon, and his brilliant and beautiful daughter Barbara to do it...

Batman: The Killing Joke first saw print in 1988. Now, 20 years on, a new version is being released with additional tweaking and a totally new colour palette.

Bolland does a bit of a George Lucas here, fiddling with things when he should have left well alone. I was half expecting to discover that in this new version Barbara would shoot first! You'll be glad to hear she doesn't. But the illustrations have been tweaked so that there are very slight difference between this version and the original and some may wonder why? If it aint broke, don't fix it.

For those who didn't discover this on it's original release, the story's pretty short and sweet. Batman must race to stop his arch nemesis before his reign of terror claims two of the Dark Knight's closest friends. Can he finally put an end to the cycle of bloodlust and lunacy that links these two iconic foes before it leads to its fatal conclusion? And as the horrifying origin of the Clown Prince of Crime is finally revealed, will the thin line that separates Batman's nobility and the Joker's insanity snap once and for all?

I remember buying The Killing Joke when it was originally released and it totally blew me away. Mind you, I was pretty new to comics then. Rereading this new edition I can't honestly say that it's a classic. It's got a Joker origin story in it for starters (I always hate "origin" threads) and as that's one of the main parts of this tale, what's left is the Joker running wild around an amusement park (a bit of a wasted opportunity really, as we hardly get to see the park in any detail) and Batman appearing to go through a midlife crisis as he tries to change his and The Joker's relationship.

Also included is a bonus story, An Innocent Guy, previously featured in Batman: Black and White. But again Bolland seems to be itching to change things - it's now in colour. It's not an overly great story, and it's inclusion here seems out of place.

If you already own the original version of The Killing Joke, I wouldn't bother spending my money on this new edition. But if you've never read this tale, it's worth picking up - especially as online stores are heavily discounting it.


Darren Rea

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