Comic Book Review: Batman – The Killing Joke

Batman: The Killing Joke

Written by Alan Moore, Illustrated by Brian Bolland

First released in 1988 then re-released in various editions and formats in 1995, 2008, 2012

Publisher: DC Comics

Rating: 2 out of 5


For the first time the Joker’s origin is revealed in this tale of insanity and human perseverance. Looking to prove that any man can be pushed past his breaking point and go mad, the Joker attempts to drive Commissioner Gordon insane.

After shooting and permanently paralyzing his daughter Barbara (a.k.a. Batgirl), the Joker kidnaps the commissioner and attacks his mind in hopes of breaking the man.

But refusing to give up, Gordon maintains his sanity with the help of Batman in an effort to beset the madman.


I’ve been a comic book fan for a while, both in the sense that I love the culture and the movie adaptations but yes I do also read some comics. Admittedly I’ve not read many comics in the last couple of years as I was focusing more on books, but when DC revamped the universe and brought out the New 52 back in 2011, I was like a giddy schoolgirl.

New 52 was a jumping on point for people who wanted to get into comics but were kind of daunted on where to start. I lapped up so many of those titles and Batman was one of my favourites. You just can’t have Batman without a villain and The Joker is, of course, a great villain.

If you’re into comics then you’ve either read or have heard of The Killing Joke as it’s widely regarded as the definitive Joker story. Written by Alan Moore who is iconic in the world of graphic novels, and illustrated by artist Brian Bolland, this book feels like a right of passage for Batman/Joker fans. It’s been described as the “origin” story of The Joker and a dark, disturbing one at that. So needless to say, I was looking forward to finally getting around to this.

I was disappointed.

It was a decent story to be fair and the artwork was great. It was laid out well and easy to follow (I read it on my tablet’s comic reader app). My problem was that I was expecting more from it. Maybe I’ve become too desensitised to not find this at all dark and disturbing, or maybe it would have been if I’d read it upon release in 1988. (I may have been a little young for that release!)

Whilst I wasn’t expecting much of a revelation as far as Joker’s “origin” was concerned, we barely found out anything about him but I kind of didn’t mind that. The Joker isn’t an origin that we need to have, the mystery of his background is one of the things that makes him so cool and unique for a villain. I don’t want to know what his agenda or motivation is because he would become too predictable.

I know the focus of this story was on Joker and not on Batman but he was so bland. In fact, the whole thing felt bland. I originally rated it 3/5 on Goodreads when I finished it but writing this has made me realise how underwhelming it actually was so I’m knocking it  down to a 2.

So there you go. A 2 out of 5. Maybe the animated movie they are making (and releasing soon) will do the story a bit of justice (pun not intended but let’s roll with it anyway). I’m sure people will continue to rave and hype about this book and I’m glad I’ve read it now so I can weigh in, but I’ll not be recommending this to new or established comic book fans.

Have you read The Killing Joke? Love it/hate it? Let me know!

P.S. I’m planning on catching up on my comic book reading and I’ve loaded up my tablet with a few load of titles, so I’ll be posting some more reviews on comics, yay!



One thought on “Comic Book Review: Batman – The Killing Joke

  1. I had this hyped to me a lot by friends, and I read it pretty late too. I’m such a huge Alan Moore fan generally, but I was a bit disappointed. Maybe it was pushing the envelope at the time it was written, but there wasn’t enough meat to the story for me, and some of it felt shocking just for the sake of shock. Moore is still my favourite comic writer though. Halo Jones is my favourite of his.


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