Welcome to the five hundred and seventy-sixth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the first five hundred (I actually haven’t been able to update it in a while). This week, learn whether Batman was intended to kill Joker at the end of The Killing Joke! Did David Choe almost do an X-Men comic book? And who was the Titans Leader in Armageddon 2001?
NOTE: The column is on three pages, a page for each legend. There’s a little “next” button on the top of the page and the bottom of the page to take you to the next page (and you can navigate between each page by just clicking on the little 1, 2 and 3 on the top and the bottom, as well).
COMIC LEGEND: The intent of the end of the Killing Joke is that Batman kills the Joker.
STATUS: I’m Going With False
My buddy John Trumbull was complaining about this one the other day, and I realized that I’ve never featured it before, so here ya go!
The Killing Joke was a graphic novel by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland where the Joker tries to prove that “one bad day” can pretty much destroy anyone, even someone as noble as Commissioner Gordon, so the Joker breaks into Gordon’s home, shoots his daughter, Barbara and then tortures Gordon. In the end, though, Gordon is still strong enough to tell Batman to ARREST Joker, not kill him.
So Batman and Joker have a confrontation (my copy of The Killing Joke is the re-colored version)…
For years, there has been debate over the ending of the book – did Batman KILL the Joker there? Brian Bolland even mocked the ambiguity in his afterword in the re-colored edition, stating:
Speaking of which, it’s time I revealed what really happened at the end of The Killing Joke: as our protagonists stood there in the rain laughing at the final joke, the police lights reflecting in the pools of filthy water underfoot, the Batman’s hand reached out and….
Again, people had been discussing this for years, pretty much as soon as the book came out. However, when Grant Morrison went on Kevin Smith’s Batman podcast back in 2013 and Morrison said that that’s what happened, well, then people went REALLY nuts with it…
And honestly, I don’t care if you want to buy into the theory. That’s cool with me if you think Batman kills Joker at the end of the book. I’m firmly with Chad Nevett – authorial intent does not define what happened in a comic book (or any book). So I’m not here to tell you that Batman does NOT kill the Joker.
No, the issue here is just whether Alan Moore actually intended that to be the ending. And that seems to be pretty clearly no.
First off, Alan Moore had to receive permission from his editor, Len Wein, to have Barbara Gordon be crippled by the Joker in the comic book. So he got permission to cripple Barbara Gordon, but then just has Batman kill the Joker? Come on.
Secondly, Alan Moore is famous for his detailed scripts and the script for the Killing Joke is pretty darn clear…
There is no way that Moore INTENDED Joker to die at the end of the comic. Now, could you read it as happening anyways? Sure, go right ahead.
Thanks to John Trumbull for indirectly reminding me to do this one!
Check out some entertainment and sports legends from Legends Revealed:
On the next page, did famed graffiti artist David Choe almost do an X-Men comic? And how pissed off was he when it DIDN’T happen?
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