The Killing Joke

Cover to Batman: The Killing Joke. Art by Brian Bolland.

I just read the comic The Killing Joke by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland. For the most part, my comics reading has been over on the Marvel side and I rarely read DC comics. But while I enjoy the new “reboot” Batman movies, I’d yet to pick up the comics. (This may have something to do with my head still  hung up on Batman as portrayed by Adam West and cameos in Scooby Doo).

But this comic wow’ed me. It’s a one-off and it portrays the symbiosis of the villian and the superhero. Batman can’t exist without the Joker and the Joker, not without Batman. We all know the origins of Batman. But the Joker has always been someone of a mystery. This comic introduces his origins, and in doing so, shows the power of positioning the bad guy as hero of his own world. The Joker is the only one true to himself, in  his mind. And the questions he poses, about the darkness that must lurk inside Batman, inside all of us, is powerful.

In a few short words, a collection of incredible imagery, and a … killing joke at the end, I find this comic to be an inspiring work that shows how getting into the depth of a dark character can make the story more real. The Joker may be drawn on flat paper, but he’s no cardboard cutout villain.

Who’s your favorite super villain? I used to think Loki, from the Avengers movies, but I think The Joker, with Heath Ledger’s amazing portrayal in The Dark Knight, and after reading more about his absolute darkness, he might stand a chance to be the new favorite. Maybe. I’ll go watch The Avengers again, just to test this theory…. Or maybe Riddick qualifies.

Okay, so I’m not sure, but the contenders all have one thing in common, a rich backstory.

Happy reading!

***

Ella Drake is a dark paranormal and science fiction romance author. You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, & Goodreads. Her Science Fiction Romance, Desert Blade is a near-future post-apocalyptic romance from Carina Press. Currently available SFR: Silver Bound, Jaq’s Harp, Braided Silk & Firestorm on E’Terra. And now from Lyrical Press, MetalMark.

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5 comments

  1. Ooh, excellent post topic. And thank you for being another lovely example of HI YES WOMEN LIKE TO READ COMICS TOO! ❤

    I've always had a hard time getting into superhero comics–in no small part due to a lot of inherent sexism on the part of Marvel and DC, especially the latter, these days–but that said, I love me some superhero stories and I do have reasonable familiarity with most of the big name superheros and supervillains.

    So that said, yeah, the Joker is classic. I don't know if he's necessarily my favorite villain _unless_ we're specifically talking the Joker as voiced by Mark Hamill in the excellent animated Batman, Superman, and Justice League saga during the 90's… because DAMN, Hamill did astonishing voice work as the Joker. Everybody justifiably lauds Ledger's performance–and I did like it too–but really, Hamill's Joker works better for me.

    My _fave_ villain, though… oh my. Loki is up there for me, too, because yeah, Avengers! /

    But I gotta give some mad props to Belloq in Raiders of the Lost Ark, which still remains my all time favorite movie ever. "I am a shadowy reflection of you. It would take only a nudge to make you like me–to push you out of the light!" "Now you're gettin' NASTY." "You know it's true! How nice!" 😉

    Mad props as well to my favorite portrayals of Lex Luthor. Again in the aforementioned animated saga (it was really impressive how they maintained continuity across four different sets of cartoon adventures and 14-some-odd years 😀 ), Lex was excellently portrayed throughout. But I also adored Gene Hackman, cheesarific as he was, in Superman: The Movie way back in '78. And he was also excellently done in Lois & Clark, at least in the first season of same, the only one of which I'll ever watch.

    1. Oh, Belloq! Excellent villain with his “you could be me.” Another of those reflective/symbiotic pairings! And in the Marvel universe, another one that is my favorite is obviously Magneto. Obviously! Right? His back story is so compelling and his motivations evoke empathy. Hard not to love him!

  2. cmtorrens · · Reply

    Great villains really do stand out in the mind. The Joker and Magneto both awesome. Their character and story just make them stick so clearly in the brain. Great Post.

    1. I know! I can believe I didn’t mention Magneto above, until the first comment. He really just suckers us poor readers in. We can help but empathize!

  3. Ooh ooh yeah, Magneto. _Totally_. I have adored his portrayal both from the magnificent Ian McKellen AND by Michael Fassbender. Excellent example of another villain who lives in a kind of symbiosis with the main hero character–and in the case of X-Men: First Class, that’s obviously Charles Xavier.

    And I gotta give a shoutout as well to Gru in Despicable Me, which came out last year. Hysterical little movie, totally engaging villain character, and he’s got the best minions I’ve ever seen. 😉

    I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention The Master from Doctor Who, too!

    To bring the women into this, I also wanted to mention Winnowill from the comic book series Elfquest, particularly in the first two story arcs before they started overusing her. She has excellent backstory, and at least as of the end of the first main story arc, you’re not entirely sure that her goals weren’t _right_.

    Shego from Kim Possible, excellent female villain.

    Catwoman needs to be noted, too.

    MAN, so many awesome characters. It’s kinda hard to pick an absolute favorite!

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