Wednesday, February 11, 2009
The Killing Joke
In reading about "The Dark Knight", I read that both Heath Ledger in his portrayal of the Joker and Tim Burton in his direction of the first Batman film in 1989 drew inspiration from "The Killing Joke" in their work. I was already interested in it from the simple fact that the history of the Joker was put in Moore's hands, but I was immediately compelled to order the GN after reading about its basis in the industry's portrayal of everyone's favorite winged-mouse. I placed my order at B&N.com and wildly anticipated diving right into what I was sure to be a complex, jigsaw puzzle of a story. So you can imagine my extreme disappointment in finding that the book itself was only about 45 pages. I finished it in a single train ride =*(
Batman is heading to Arkham Asylum, a center for the criminally insane note below, to see and talk to the Joker. After arriving in his cell and trying to get to some reason as to why those two hate each other so much and don't even really know each other, Batman soon discovers that he is indeed talking to some other lackey who is face-painted as the Joker, as the real one has escaped. The story then follows Batman tracking down and arresting the infamous criminal while we are given a look into his past and the circumstances that made him the maniacal and demonic Clown he is today.
There is some turn from previous incarnations of both of the protagonists. Batman is much more sensitive and diplomatic, which seemed to weaken him as an entertaining character a little. The Joker, however, is much more deliberate and philosophical, which actually served to give enlivening glimpse into his psyche. As I complained about above, the story had plenty of room for a lot more elaboration. But all in all, this is a brilliant piece of writing.
NoteThere is no such thing as "criminally" insane. Insanity is just insanity. There isn't any different breed of crazy for lawful people and unlawful people, because all of the insane have cut themselves from any attachment to societal norm and law and just focus on their own. They are not intent on being criminals. But I'm sure Moore knows this.