Welcome to the five hundred and eighty-fifth 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, was The Killing Joke originally meant to be out of continuity? Was the 1991 X-Men comic first intended to be part of a single bi-weekly X-Men team? Did Wally West’s friend Chunk nearly have his own series?
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 Killing Joke was originally not meant to be in continuity.
The Killing Joke is released today as a DC animated movie. Therefore, I thought today would be a good time to address a very common legend about the Killing Joke, specifically whether or not it was ever intended to be in continuity in the first place!
There is a long history of graphic novels that were never intended to be in continuity that were later added to continuity, like Mike W Barr and Jerry Bingham’s Son of the Demon, which was later written into continuity with the introduction of Damian Wayne.
However, that was not the case with the Killing Joke. Alan Moore requested permission to make a permanent change to Barbara Gordon. He might not have felt that DC was going to stick with it as long as they did, but the idea at the time was that the events of The Killing Joke occurred in the DC Universe.
Barbara Kesel has confirmed this a number of times that she was hired to write the Batgirl special where Barbara Gordon retires as Batgirl specifically to set up The Killing Joke.
The Killing Joke was intended to be in continuity, the issue just was that no one had any concrete plans to follow it up, so it took John Ostrander and Kim Yale to step up and do it. I covered their invention of Oracle here.
Thanks to Barbara Kesel for being so open with this story over the years! I did a variation of this legend in my first book of Comic Book Legends Revealed.
Check out some entertainment and sports legends from Legends Revealed:
On the next page, was the 1991 X-Men series originally going to be one of two books starring the same team!
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