The Killing Joke (Comic): A look back

‘I like to keep things interesting. A wise man once told me that if you have to have an origin story, you’re better off making it multiple choice’



When news of the animated version of The Killing Joke came to light people jumped for joy. Not just because one of the most iconic Batman comics was being recreated in a different medium, but because both Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill were reprising their roles of Batman and Joker respectively. With Batman: Year One being made into a movie a few years ago it’s great to see another classic comic being turned.2


The Killing Joke is not only renowned for being a great comic due to its writing and artistry, but because of the legacy it left behind after. This, for me, stands aside such greats as A Death in the Family and Knightfall as Batman stories that changed the face of Batman forever. The shooting and paralysing of (I’m going to go ahead and ‘spoil’ something right now, 18 years after it was originally released) Barbara Gordon became canon, despite the debate that still surrounds it. Barbara would of course go on to become Oracle and find another way to help Batman.


This all came about in an age where the darker side of Batman had just started to come to light. Between 1988 and 1989 we got A Death in the Family, Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth and The Killing Joke. These stories are among some of the best, and they’re darker than the material before it.




Elements of this story have been seen across all manner of mediums, but never the full version. The video game series developed by Rocksteady referred to almost every aspect of the comic. Ranging from references of the Joker’s origin story to reenactments of the shooting scene it’s clear to see the impact this has had.


The origin story of the Joker is something had never been heard of at the time also. By this point, the character had been developed without the need of a backstory. The Joker was as he was and most felt this was almost out of place to have an origin to him. Although his name is never mentioned in the comic, there is a great amount of detail explaining how he came to be. I’m unsure whether it was written for this purpose, but the Joker even mentions the quote that’s at the top of this page.




I would like to think that this all came about because of Mark Hamill. Having voiced the character for over 2 decades he was starting to limit his voicings of the the Joker. After ‘retiring’ he said he would be open to the idea of doing the Joker if an adaption of the comic came to be, which sparked online campaigns and eventually the announcement of it.


The Killing Joke is being released across the world at different times. The official DVD release for the US is the 2nd of August, with the UK getting it on the 8th. The UK (and I presume certain cinemas in the US will get it too) is showing the film is select cinemas on the 25th of July (today!), which is why this is going up now!


I’m unbelievably excited for this. I can’t wait to watch one of my favourite comics transformed into a film, with the true Batman and Joker voicing the their parts. A review will be coming out as and when we get a hold of it!


Looking forward to this? Have you read the comic? Let us know!



– Bean



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