As you may know, Kevin Smith is a huge Batman fan and weekly presents a podcast called Fatman on Batman as part of his SModcast empire. Each week Kevin Smith invites a creator who is involved (sometime tenuously) with Batman. This week Smith was again joined by famed writer and spiritualist, Grant Morrison for issue #44. Morrison was invited to discuss his favorite Batman stories, and as part of the podcast discussed Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s seminal Batman story The Killing Joke.
Morrison explains to Smith that one of the reasons he loves The Killing Joke is because of the end, where Batman kills the Joker, making it the ultimate Batman/Joker story.
[quote]“No one gets the end, because Batman kills The Joker. … That’s why it’s called The Killing Joke. The Joker tells the ‘Killing Joke’ at the end, Batman reaches out and breaks his neck, and that’s why the laughter stops and the light goes out, ’cause that was the last chance at crossing that bridge. And Alan Moore wrote the ultimate Batman/Joker story — he finished it.”[/quote]
Alan Moore has said in the past that did not intend The Killing Joke to be part of DC comics continuity but at the time it was released, DC did recognize The Killing Joke as canon. Since the DC re-launch of The New 52, DC has played a little fast and loose with what is continuity or not, and there is not yet any definitive answer as to how much of The Killing Joke is part of The New 52, outside of Joker shooting Barbara.
Since the podcast went up late last week there has been plenty of discussion as to whether it was Alan Moore’s intention to have the Batman kill the Joker or, whether there is a subtlety in the ambiguity. Some sites, most notably Bleeding Cool, have gone as far as referencing back Moore’s original scripts and highlighting the fact that there is no reference to the Joker dying in there.
Personally, I think everyone is missing the point. Morrison has always stated that he looks at Batman differently from most people. In a past interview with Smith, Fatman on Batman episode #27 Morrison explained that he looks at each period of Batman continuity as a different year in Batman’s life and fits this to how he views the character…
Part of The Killing Joke’s joy is that everyone can draw their own conclusion from the final panels. It is not spelled out in black and white, and it can quite easily fit into most people’s idea of continuity. I look at each arc as a continuity in its own right. You can then take what you want to make the story work for you. If not you can run your head around in circles trying to make it fit.
Whatever your views on The Killing Joke, it still stands today as one of the best, most deftly written Batman stories. Certainly a must have for any comics fan.
Images: DC Comics