“All it takes is one bad day to reduce the sanest man alive to lunacy. That’s how far the world is from where I am. Just one bad day.”
What separates us from the clinically insane? Why do they do these horrendous acts? What pushed them over the edge to lose the grips of reality? One bad day.
The Joker was always my favorite villain, and not because he was the only one I knew of at the time, but because he always seemed to have Batman question his whole beliefs. Batman is the hero. Period and case in point. However, when it came to dealing with the notorious Joker, Batman’s whole world is turned up side down. We didn’t want Batman to circum to breaking his ultimate “no kill” rule. When the Joker was involved you question the decide and wonder if that rule should apply to him.
Think about it! You kill this twisted individual, who has already killed innocent people and has caused chaos, and end it all from every happening it again. Or, you kill him and become a killer just like he is, making you no different. The choice that Batman is always reminded of isn’t always black and white or right or wrong. Those same choices, WE, as a reader or viewer, question and come out torn like our hero Batman.
Batman: The Killing Joke doesn’t just illustrate that philosophy but shows us the origin of the Joker. His origin has always been a mystery, which made all the more dangerous and captivating. Alan Moore created a story that makes you wonder where the lines cross between sane and insanity.
The story alternates between past and present. Batman arrives to Arkham Asylum to talk to his archenemy. Batman begins to tell the Joker that he knows the time will come that one of them will be the only one alive. Batman wants to know the he tried to make it right and doesn’t want the Joker’s death haunting him. Batman becomes angry when the Joker doesn’t speak and grabs him, when he realizes he’s an impostor.
The Joker has escaped!
The Joker, his true name is never said, was once a married man soon to be father. He was unhappy with his employment in a chemical company and decides to quit to become a comedian. Living in a dirty, broken apartment the Joker realizes that he can’t provide for his wife and unborn child. His wife, Jeannie, loves his regardless of their financial problems.
Desperate he agrees to help two criminals and guide them inside his old company so they can rob the company next door. The Joker sees this heist as a opportunity to finally support his growing family. Just as the meeting with the criminals is wrapping up, police officers arrive to deliver devastating news. His wife has died in a household accident. Grief takes over and the Joker realizes he doesn’t need to continue the heist because he has lost everything. The criminals inform him that he is stuck and can not bail without consequences.
The robbery goes horribly wrong when they’re suddenly surrounded by security. The Joker’s face is hidden with a mask that belongs to the infamous Red Hood. The two criminals are gunned down and the Joker comes face to face to Batman, who was investigating the Red Hood. Joker fearing the Batman trips and falls over into the chemical waste. The chemical caused his skin to be chalk white, his lips ruby red, and his hair to turn green. This disfigurement and his very bad day caused him to laugh causing him to go completely insane as well as the birth of The Joker.
Back to the present the Batman is beating up thugs to find out where the Joker is. Jim Gordon is at home with his daughter Barbara when there is a knock at the door. The Joker shoots Barbara, paralyzing her from the waist down. The Joker then takes Gordon to his new place. Batman receives a ticket admission to a once closed amusement park with the Jokers face.
The Joker strips Gordon and ties him inside a roller coaster cart and takes him for a ride. Inside the ride, plastered across the walls are photographs of Barbara naked bleeding on the floor. Batman arrives to free Gordon when Gordon tells Batman to bring the Joker in by the book.
Batman and the Joker face off once again. The Joker reveals that he wanted to break Gordon to prove that everyone is compatible of turning insane because of a bad day. Batman reflects this and tells him that he failed. Gordon, after everything that happened didn’t want his head but wanted justice correctly.The Joker is infuriated and attacks Batman and pulls out a gun. When he pulls the trigger he finds it empty and gives up. Batman pleads with him and offers to help him. The Joker tells him that it’s too late and tells him a joke.
The final pictures show the Joker and Batman laughing together then the next the laughing stops with the image of the raining falling.
The ending is ambiguous, to one Batman agrees with The Joker that he is too far gone for help and broke his neck, causing the laughing to stop. To another, Batman and Joker just had rare moment and had a laugh. Did Batman break his rule in killing Joker or he decided to do what Gordon asked and brought him in by the book, is left for each owns interpretation.
For me, I HAVE NO IDEA! Each of them sound plausable and no matter which one Batman did choose I would agree with. The concept of just “a bad day” that causes you to lose all sense of reality is frightening. Batman and The Joke are one in the same, and that Batman hates to admit. Both had such tragedies that ultimately caused them to become who they are. Batman losing his parents infront of him caused to him to become the Batman. The Joker losing his wife and unborn child caused him to lose his mind and became the Joker.
The Killing Joke is fantastic and chilling. After finishing it, I couldn’t stop thinking about it as well as analyzing it. When a book makes you think long after it’s over it’s worth the read and the discussions. I see the Joker in a whole new light!