* Prices may differ from that shown
With the recent release of this years superb summer blockbuster The Dark Knight I decided it was fast time for me to look back into some of the comics that influenced it. My first stop was The Killing Joke as it is the book quoted by both Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger as the main influence for their very different portrayals of The Joker. It is also the book that is universally lauded as the best Joker story ever written.
The Killing Joke opens with Batman paying a visit to Arkham Asylum for a quick heart to heart with his old nemesis The Joker. It seems Batman is concerned with the way their 'relationship' is progressing, and wants to make sure he at least tries to talk out their differences before it ends with one of them killing the other. The problem quickly becomes apparent that The Joker in this cell is a fake, the real deal has once again escaped captivity and who knows what horrendous actions he's got planned this time.
Well The Joker's first step after escaping Arkham is to acquire himself a derelict theme park, no longer safe for public amusement, but positively perfect for Joker's fun and games.
The next step is to pay a visit to the home of the Commissioner of police Jim Gordon. Gaining access to his house Joker shoots Gordon's daughter Barbara (formerly Batgirl) through the spine, makes a few jokes about her condition and then kidnaps Gordon himself. Barbara is found hours later dying, stripped completely naked with no signs of sexual assault. The only clue left by the perpetrator being a lens cap discarded at the scene of the crime. The doctors are able to save her life, but she'll be left physically crippled for the rest of her life.
When she finally does wake up Barbara is able to confirm that The Joker was the shooter who took Commissioner Gordon, but the only motive she could get out of him before passing out was that 'he wants to prove a point.'
This story is interspersed with a flashback event as The Joker reminisces about his own past. Back to a time when he was a simple failed stand up comedian desperate to provide for his pregnant girlfriend. He get's mixed in with the a major job for an unidentified mob family, but is unable to get out of the job after his girlfriend dies during child birth. All in all he ends up having a really crappy day that ends with him becoming a permanently disfigured psychopath. Now, all these years later he feels the need to prove to the world that all it takes is one really bad day to turn a good citizen into himself, and he's willing to push Commissioner Gordon to his very limits in order to prove this.
So the question really remains, why is The Killing Joke considered so good by pretty much everyone who's ever read it? There's a fairly simple answer really, and that is that The Killing Joke is a complicated story that isn't afraid to mess with your head. There's very little Batman in this tale, appearing very briefly at the beginning and end respectively, but otherwise leaving The Joker to take center stage in his own book. A fact that only works so well because The Joker really is the most twisted sociopath in Batman's rogues gallery, possibly even in comics as a whole.
I'd love to say that his murder of the fairground owner at the start of the book was a highlite, but really that was just Joker being Joker. The shooting of Barbara Gordon however was incredibly jarring. Mainly because the first time I read the book I didn't know it was coming, and she was such a big part of both Batman and Gordon's life prior to the incident. The way her shooting was used was what startled me the most though. Not just the way Joker proceeded to mock the dying girl, but as he later used photo's of Commissioner Gordon's only daughter naked and dying in his torturous games really highlited how sadistic a villain The Joker is.
That is the secret to the books success. The way the story attempts to give you a look into The Joker's head. It does provide The Joker with a sympathetic backstory, but by juxtaposing this story with some of The Joker's most heinous crimes writer Alan Moore (V For Vendetta) ensures that Joker never feels like a Two Face type of tragedy. Instead you're treated to a look into the thinking process of pure evil. The whole point of the story being that Joker considers himself the Yang to Batman's Yin, mirror images of the same damaged psyche who have reacted to their psychoses in very different ways.
"You had a bad day once, am I right? Why else would you dress up like a flying rat?" Says Joker when he and Batman are finally reunited, thereby showing the sinister motives behind his most recent crimes. To push Jim Gordon to the very edge of insanity and see how he reacts, and maybe even, if he's lucky, push Batman far enough to finally take his life. To prove to the whole world that Batman is the killer that everyone already knows The Joker is.
It's worth noting that while this book does present one possible origin for The Joker, that the book itself presents Joker as an unreliable narrator. He openly admits at one point that he sometimes remembers things very differently, as he prefers to keep his history multiple choice. However this is the Joker origin that seems to have become the most widely embraced. Possibly because of the tragic loss of an innocents family so closely mirrors the origin of Batman himself.
Luckily, for a story as dark as this the artwork has held up incredibly well. First published in 1988 Brian Bolland's pencil work still looks as good as some of the comics released in the last few years. Some of the imagery he evokes feels genuinely unsettling, not least of which would be the creepy reveal of the disfigured body of the fairground's former owner after the Joker negotiated a 'free' exchange. It helps somewhat that Bolland has touched up his coloring for the latest release, presenting the flashbacks in black and white and cleaning up the colors of certain shots. I've never actually seen any of the earlier releases for comparison, but the dark coloring of this release is absolutely fantastic.
So, will The Joker succeed in proving his point? Will he turn Jim Gordon into a killer? Will he be able to push Batman far enough to kill him this time? IF you want to find out then it's definitely worth picking up the book to do so. It's one of the most intriguing stories in the Batman library and is a must read for anyone who's even remotely interested in the character of The Joker. If nothing else the impact this one shot has had on the DC universe with the crippling of Batgirl makes it a must read. I'd have to say it's a tad too dark for the munchkins though.
You should also be forwarned that anyone looking for a simple High adventure/murder mystery Batman story is going to find that not all that much happens in this story.
I've always said that things in the comic world happen for a reason and a Batman graphic novel called The Killing Joke had an immediate impact to DC and the characters linked to it. Originally released in 1988 to an audience that were still at the early stages of accepting graphic novels, the book itself has been re-printed a number of times to the extent that deluxe hardback printings of the book have been released, each printing showing the writing and artistic qualities of those involved.
The plot of the story is simple, The Joker wants to see what it would take for a man to simply snap, or in his word "to have a bad day". The Joker is a character that has no boundaries and so you know straight away from the cover that the character is going to go full out to reach his achievements and this is the foundation of the story. A dark, twisted and quite disturbing tale that simply focuses around Batman and The Joker in their on-going struggle, by the end you do see that the two are the perfect match for each other and while the book itself has a number of stories that acts as sub-plots that are told in terms of flashbacks you get to see how different forms of madness have been dealt with by both men and how Batman keeps it under wraps while Joker decides to use this as a tool for his evil trade.
The story that is set in the present is quite short in terms of pages, yet the added value here is the inclusion into the story of flashbacks to see The Joker in his previous life. Up until Tim Burton's 1989 film, you never really knew much about the green haired, chalk skinned villain except that he was the arch nemesis of Batman who like Superman's Lex Luthor kept making an appearance to be thwarted, well here it's a little difference as you witness how Joker became The Joker and the events leading up to the unnamed character falling into highly toxic chemicals. The background is fleshed out like never before as we find out that Joker had a pregnant wife, was living on the poverty line and was mentally on the edge. Desperate to protect his family he decides to assist in a crime that goes horribly wrong when he is set up as the target rather than the accomplice and so The Joker is born. It doesn't mean that Batman takes a back seat at all as the story heavily involves him in the rescue of Commissioner Jim Gordon who is being used by Joker as a lab rat to induce a state of madness upon him, the catalyst being Gordon's daughter, Barbara, who The Joker deliberately makes a target of to try and force Gordon over the edge.
The story is dark and at times gory and bizarre as you get a ticket to go inside Joker's head, the scenes that can only be described as torture are graphic in nature, yet don't necessarily cross the line to become unnecessarily shocking in nature that the reader is repulsed. As you can imagine this is not the Adam West bright coloured Batman from the sixties, this is more of a psycho thriller and certainly not suitable for the younger reader at all given its approach and use of violence that gets a strong message projected to the reader.
The artwork has to be seen in this book, the colouring throughout reflects the sombre and dangerous theme throughout the story; dialogue is sharp and doesn't follow a standard B-Movie script at all. The best way to describe it would be that there is enough going on to capture the reader from cover to cover to tell a story. Batman looks like Batman should do, big, muscled and has that presence that you know straight away that if you come face to face with that you are not only under-skilled but also in a lot of trouble. Quite correctly The Joker is the complete opposite, bright, colourful, and energetic and totally off the radar in terms of personality. His appearance is spot on with dark green hair and chalk white skin wearing the obligatory garish coloured suit, the one thing that I always notice is his stance and the manner in which he holds himself at an angle and is never really full upright, this is evident late in the story when he is face to face with Batman. The definition of other characters in the story has been done very well, Gordon being held against his will in a cage has a shocking impact as he is being treated like an animal and is stark naked as part of The Joker's torture methods. The story culminates in a disused fairground and this is the perfect setting for the climax.
There are a few nice touches that have been added, on the first encounter when Batman is at the chemical plant you see Batman in the original 1930's uniform that fits in with the cover of Detective Comics when Batman made his first appearance. This gives the flashbacks depth and gives the story a wider scope than before and eliminates any boredom as well as it catches the audience's eye when the book is being read, also the Batmobile is an early model rather than a high performance model that was being used at the time in the comics when the book was released. I like the fact that these nods to nostalgia have been added as it does pay respect to previous renditions. The brief scenes set in the Batcave are good and give interaction between an unmasked Bruce Wayne and Alfred, Wayne's long term Butler, assisting with the investigation.
Tragedy is a key word in the story and the fact is that the two main characters in the story have had that by the bucket load, this story adds Jim Gordon to that list as the experience he goes through can only be described as traumatic. In fact without spoiling the details this is something that the weekly writers picked up on and through the weekly publications the Batman stories were defined further to take into account what happened in this book. One good example is Barbara Gordon's character of Oracle in the Birds Of Prey comics and her inclusion in Justice League as a non-costumed character who makes up the minority of disabled characters in the DC Universe.
This is truly adult reading and the fact this is aimed at the more mature audience means the story can be much darker than normal, in fact this is a 15 certificated publication. Not only because of the violence but also because of the swearing as well that is used in the correct places and gives a dose of reality that removes itself from the "nicey nice" approach that has literally been thrown out of the window. This is one book that the collector should have in their collection and one that repercussions are still being felt today, although the recent reboot of all DC titles has eradicated this from certain areas. It delivers everything that the reader would want to see in a Batman comic as this is about one man's path to find an answer that he will strive to find at any cost.
Overall this is what I want to see in a graphic novel and can see after reading this a number of times that the story of this calibre has never been surpassed at all with a story like this that releases a plethora of taboo's in the name of entertainment.
The killing Joke was one of the main sources of inspiration for 'The Dark Knight' and is one of the best Batman tales ever told.
The Killing Joke is the story (or one of them) of how The Joker became The Joker, one of the most insane criminals taht Batman has ever faced. The pacing of the story is as brilliant ans it is brutal. This is the Joker at his most brutal and is not a graphic novel for children or young teens.
Its one of the darkest Batman stories as he is almost pushed over the edge after the Joker almost destroys Commissionor Gordan and his daughter.
The ending however is particulary iconic and worth buying for alone.
The graphic novel also features another short story at the end which is bizzare and I personally don't quite know why it was included. The graphic novel is also quite short and given the price (£10 - £16 depending on where you) it could put people off.
Overall it is a graphic novel every Batman fan should own.
How many comics do you know can claim to have been featured in the New York Times Bestseller List. Well you can add one to your total with this title, Batman: The Killing Joke. And it is not that surprising a fact when you consider the affect it has had on the Batman franchise. Originally published in a one off release in 1988, Alan Moore of Watchmen fame along with Brian Bolland once again pit the Dark Knight against his most famous of foes - The Joker.
Having escaped Arkham Asylum once again, The Joker sets about trying to prove that anyone, even the most outstanding of all citizens can be pushed into the mouth of madness. His target, none other than Jim Gordon.
The book takes on the form of an origin story for two of the characters. For Barbara Gordon, it is the path she takes after Batwoman and why she takes this route. It also explores the past of The Joker, but as any fan of the franchise will know, that characters history is as cloudy and conflicted as the man himself. But it is the addition of these details and the path the story takes that helps to add further dimension to the character, and perhaps helps us to look at him in a new light.
The main theme of the 64 page book is psychological effect of violence. And how two characters who are percieved to be polar opposites are actually a lot closer than we have realised. Both hero and villain both suffered the one bad day, both adopted a character to play out their plans, what is the difference?
Bearing in mind it was written by a giant of the comic book world, it should not comes as a surprise that this book has been as well recieved and indeed has as big an impact on the franchise. I'm sure that the description of the Joker trying to reduce Gotham's White Knight and bring him down to the level of the Batman and The Jokersounds vaguely familier. Both Chris Nolan and Heath Ledger used this as inspiration for The Dark Knight. Fans of the game Arkham Asylum on the xbox 360 and the PS3 will recognise the graphics and the way in which the world is illustrated.
You can pick up a copy of the hardback deluxe edition from Amazon.co.uk for £7.05. The story, even at only 64 pages is gripping. Well written and beautifully illustrated it has been acclaimed as one of the highlights of the franchise. It may not any all or even any of your questions, but the story is one to entertain and leave you with one of the best endings, and perhaps most surprising endings in literature.
Batman: The Killing Joke is a graphic novel by Alan Moore with art by Brian Bolland and was first published in 1988. The story has the Joker escaping from Arkham Asylum yet again and soon intent on revenge and proving a personal theory. The Joker thinks that life is absurd and not worth fighting for and that anyone can be driven insane if they have a bad enough day. He targets Gotham City Police Commissioner Jim Gordon to prove his point and generally indulge his sadistic sense of mischief. The Joker shoots and paralyzes Gordon's daughter Barbara and takes him hostage at a deserted amusement park where he is made to look at some images of the wounded Barbara on funfair mirrors that surround him. As Batman enters the fray to try and save his old friend, the Joker has flashbacks to his troubled past and we see the events that tipped him over the edge to become this strange and clearly insane criminal...
The Killing Joke is an enjoyably dark Joker story with incredibly colourful art by Brian Bolland and is a good read despite not being terribly long. There is a Deluxe edition of this available now with more sombre colours but I quite like the garish tones of this (although you can see how a toned down version might be more atmospheric). The story is about the symbiosis between Batman and the Joker and how they have more in common than Batman would probably like to admit. The Joker is obviously bonkers but a man who dresses up as a giant bat and risks his life by going out to fight crime each night clearly has a few issues too. The Joker wonders what Batman's 'bad day' was and we of course know the answer to that one. 'Why else would you dress up like a flying rat?' Batman tries to alter the destiny of his relationship with the Joker a couple of times in the book by trying to reach out to him and these panels are quite interesting even if The Killing Joke isn't one of Alan Moore's most profound or complicated works.
'I've been thinking lately about you and me,' says Batman to the Joker early on, as they play cards in a darkened Asylum room. 'About what's going to happen to us, in the end. We're going to kill each other aren't we?' Batman: The Killing Joke was notably a big influence on Tim Burton's 1989 Batman film and perhaps also the more recent The Dark Knight by Christopher Nolan. The latter film is reminiscent of The Killing Joke in some of the later sequences and the general relationship between Batman and The Joker. It has some similarities with the depiction of the Joker too as a strange nasty piece of work out to create as much carnage as possible although the Joker here is more urbane (in the traditional Joker comic book manner) than Heath Ledger's interpretation. The shooting of Barbara in the The Killing Joke gains its shock value from the casual manner in which it is carried out and in terms of brutality is up there with The Joker taking a crowbar to Jason Todd's Robin in A Death in the Family.
Tim Burton was obviously influenced by the Joker origin tale that runs through this too when he made the original Batman film in the eighties. The Joker character has a vague origin story in the comics that involves being in a criminal gang and ending up in a river of chemicals. Alan Moore kept the chemicals part and added a few flourishes of his own. The Joker was once an ordinary person, an engineer at the chemical plant. His failure to become a stand-up comedian and support his pregnant wife led him to seek quick cash by helping some criminals rob a company next door to the plant. This was the 'bad day' that led to the Joker as everything that could go wrong did and the river of chemicals was the final straw. It's a slight cliche in a Joker story (as he's the ultimate 'evil clown') but I enjoyed the deserted funfair that he takes on as a base, the story and art making good use of the rides and mirrors etc.
'It's ugly and derelicts have used it for a toilet,' muses the Joker. 'The rides are dilapidated to the point of being lethal. I'm crazy for it.' I quite liked the panels too of the Joker holding court at the fair with his assorted weird henchmen and associates, sort of like Vincent Price used to in some underground dwelling in Theatre of Blood and those Dr Phibes films. The King of some strange threadbare kingdom. Batman: The Killing Joke is darkly amusing at times but also rather sadistic and surreal, especially in the panels where Gordon has images of the wounded Barbara in various states of undress projected onto funfair mirrors all around him. Batman: The Killing Joke has become quite an important comic in the same way that A Death in the Family did. Both changed the Batman universe and had the shocking events of their stories riffed on and referenced in future publications, becoming an accepted part of the history of the character.
Batman: The Killing Joke is a good read on the whole with striking art by Brian Bolland and a surreal and edgy story by Alan Moore. At 60 or so pages you wish it could have been a little longer and it's not quite on a par with Moore's best work (or something like The Dark Knight Returns) but it still remains one of the more memorable Batman stories and a strong graphic novel in its own right. I have many graphic novels and comic annuals that are themed around some sort of final or ultimate showdown between Batman and the Joker and Batman: The Killing Joke is one of the best of these types of stories. Recommended for any Alan Moore or Batman fans.
Finally the Joker's origin is revealed, well at least it's a possible origin. The story takes place in two different timelines. The first in the present is a game of cat and mouse between Batman and the Joker. The clown prince of crime has kidnapped Comissioner Gordon in an effort to prove that all it takes is one bad day to turn even the most well adjusted man insane. Meanwhile in the past we find out just what happened to turn a normal man into the psychopath we know from the comics.
Alan Moore is an industry legend, responsible for the behemoth of a comic that is Watchmen. His story telling is again at it's finest here and one characters futures will be changed forever. This story gives the Joker more depth as a character however we can't be sure his origin here is true since the Joker himself tells the tale. Even at one point saying he remembers it differently most times. The artwork normally takes a back seat when stories are this great but here Bolland's work accentuates Moore's story telling.
For any fan of Batman or the Joker this is a must buy
Alan Moore's one-off Batman comic has changed how the mythos was seen since its release in 88. Often considered, along with The Dark Knight Returns and Year One to be one of the most influential and important stories.
It start with Batman visiting the Joker in Arkham, only to find he's escaped. The Joker has gone out and "bought" himself an amusement park, where he will unleash his latest plan. He goes to Commissioner James Gordon's house, and shoots his daughter in the spine, paralyzing her before taking them both away.
When Gordon wakes up, he finds himself in Joker's amusement park, riddled with freaks and sideshows, all leering at him. Shackled to a ghost train, he is taken into the ride where videos of the Joker speak to him, stating that anyone can become mad, with the right catalysts. All it needs is "one bad day". Gordon is taken into a large room, where screens show photos of his daughter, naked, bleeding and in pain. Hope is on Batman, as he tries to get to the Joker's carnival before Joker completely breaks Gordon.
Interspaced with flashbacks from the Joker's past, in a story never really been told before, the Killing Joke really packs a punch.
In its very short page count, Killing Joke manages to pack quite a lot of story and a fair good amount of depth. It explores the darkness and the tragic past that made the Joker who he is - one tragic day can change a man completely, something he wants to prove to the Commissioner.
What I like about this story is how little of it is focused on Batman. While he's there and does all the superhero work, he's merely nothing more than a way to save Gordon. Although I do have to admit the first and last scenes with dialogue between him and Joker are really good. Joker really is the focus of this story and it's a fresh new look on Batman stories.
It works really well, and Alan Moore's usual great grasp at storytelling comes through 100% and Brian Bolland's artwork is superb. He manages to capture the characters and the emotions perfectly.
Although a tad short, Killing Joke is well worth reading if you're a Batman fan and haven't already
I'm not entirely sure where this particular story fits into the seemingly never ending collections of Batman comics, but it is up there with the best of them. I had just watched the Batman Begins movie and wanted to see how the Batman character began and evolved through time. I was lead to 'The Killing Joke' and boy I wasn't dissapointed.
Prior to reading this graphic novel and or watching the blockbuster movie 'The Dark Knight', you may have wondered who The Joker is exactly and why he's such a sick and twisted individual. After reading you'll not only have learnt who he is but you'll be left with a quite a strange sense of disgust for an individual who'll have shown exactly he's capable of, which'll be more than you'd ever have expected.
I'll start with the artwork in The Killing Joke, from the cover you can tell that it's going to be stunning and it doesn't dissapoint. For a graphic novel written in the 80's you wouldn't have expected something to look so timeless, if you didn't know any better you'd think it was created yesterday. Credit for this goes to Brian Bolland who, in some respects doesn't get enough praise for his work in this 64 page classic as he graciously stands in Alan Moore's shadown.
Next up is the story, where this novel stands out and rightly so you'd assume since the Watchmen and V for Vendetta British writer Alan Moore wrote it. From the cover The Killing Joke is clearly based around the sick and evil minded Joker character, however it doesn't start out that way, he wasn't always this person we've perceived him to be. The Joker was once a regular guy who fell into the wrong crowd and so the story evolves, he slowly becomes this sadistic character we've known for years gaining these sick and twisted thoughts which often make the reader re-read what they've just seen.
The writing is spectacular at times and makes you wonder why other authors havn't dared to tread the water Alan Moore has with The Joker character, it almost feels like this is the real Joker character we've been waiting for and not the happy over the top character we've seen in the past. He really shows that he's willing to do anything to get to the Batman and reveal his true identity.
One problem, and it's hard for me to write this since I honestly think it's brialliant is that it may not be enjoyed as much if you havn't read Batman's other graphic novels. Avid fans will tell you that there are 5 or 6 major ones to look out for when it comes to Batman's backstory, so I'll mention them here, in order, while I'm on the subject.
1. Batman - Year One by Frank Miller & David Mazucchelli
A story about Bruce Wayne's return to Gotham and his fight against crime with his new associate Lt. Gordon who had moved to Gotham and faced his own fight against police corruption.
2. The Killing Joke by Alan Moore & Brian Bolland
This is a story about the origin of the Joker and dares to tread where no other has before with the Joker.
3. The Long Halloween by Jeph Loeb & Tim Sale
A film-noir mystery with the Batman tracking down a serial killer that's been plaguing Gotham for a year. Batman plays more of a detective role in this, which is unusual considering he's normally more of a crime fighter.
4. Dark Victory by Jeph Loeb & Tim Sale
The sequel to Long Halloween. Another serial killer strikes, and Batman takes on a protege named Richard Grayson.
5. The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller, Klaus Janson, & Lynn Varley
In the near future, Batman comes out of retirement to end the new level of madness, corruption, and crime that has thrived while he's been away.
(Special mentions go to 'Batman: A Death in the Family' and 'Arkham Asylum' which can be read at any time)
Along side Alan Moore's Watchmen, The Killing Joke is up there with the best of them, it may be short and it may be sweet (It can be read in half hour or so) but it definately leaves it's mark on you and makes you wish other graphic novels upped their game to this epic sort of standard. You simply can't get much better.
What does it take to turn a sane man to madness? Could sanity be as flimsy as to crack completely after just one bad day? This is the question The Joker tries to answer in DC's The Killing Joke. Remembering the fateful day which turned him into the lunatic he is now, The Joker escapes once more from Arkham Asylum (I swear, they must just leave the doors open at that place) and sets out on a terrifying rampage. His plan is to drive Commisioner Jim Gordon mad, after a day full of misery, grief, and torture. If Gordon is insane at the end of the day, then the Joker has made his point. Needless to say, Gordon is still sane at the end of the day (He's still alive and well in the Batbooks to this day, after all), but it's still a twisted ride along the way to see what the Joker has planned for our favourite Commish. In between Gordon's terrible day and Batman's desperate quest to save his friend, we get flashbacks to a possible origin of the Joker, a club comedian who gets involved in a small criminal job to provide for his wife and child. Needless to say, the day doesn't go as planned. This truly is a great read - you won't find the Joker much more twisted than here (with the possible exception of the graphic novel 'Arkham Asylum' written by Grant Morrison), and certainly this is among the scariest Batman comics ever created. There's also a momentous event within these pages - the crippling of Gordon's daughter, Barbara, which has impacted the Batbooks right until the present day. After the crippling injury dealt out by the Joker, the former Batgirl Barbara became the wheelchair-bound information source known as 'Oracle'. There's the usual imagery and iconography that one might have expected from the writer of 'Watchmen' (Alan Moore), and the artwork certainly holds it's own against Moore's writing. I would rank this as one of the best Ba
tman stories ever written. Put this in a package with Miller's 'The Dark Knight Returns', Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale's 'The Long Halloween', and Miller's 'Year One' and you would have all you ever need to know about the character. Truly top-class in every way.
Two stories are told in this comic, in the present the Joker cripples Barbara Gordan and goes on the run from Batman, whilst in the past we learn how the Joker came to be. The Joker is revelaed to have been transformed from an unfortunate and largely innocent man in to the insane and homocidal Joker after an encounter with Batman at a chemical plant. The present day questions the roles of Batman and the Joker, how they continually play this game of cat and mouse. The artwork for this book is solid, but not particualrly inspiring. Alan Moore does an excellent job in creating real characters out of Batman and the Joker and makes much of the tragedy and futility of thier situations. As with most Alan Moore its highly recommended, particularly if you're a Batman fan.