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Absolutely Twisted

February 23, 2009

     These days, it’s all about Heath Ledger and The Dark Knight.  It was a good movie, but Ledger’s performance was unfairly catapulted into the realm of greatness just because of his death.  That may sound harsh, but it’s true.  No, the greatest Joker story was written by the man who wrote the Watchmen: Batman: The Killing Joke.  The whole story revolves around the conflict between Batman and the Joker and the idea that the two aren’t that different in all actuality.  No scene illustrates that better than the joke scene at the end, when the Joker tells a classic joke and Batman laughs right with him.

     Now, the main plot point is this: the Joker shoots Barbara Gordon in the spine, crippling her (and leading to her reinvention as Oracle).  Then, he tortures Commissioner Gordon in the worst way possible.  I won’t even say what it is, because it’s so gruesome, and it’s much better to read it than hear about it.  Anyway, Alan Moore manages to capture every facet of the Joker’s personality in this story.  In this way, it’s closer to the Joker of Batman: The Animated Series (played by Mark Hamill, for those of you who don’t know), except with the greater darkness of the comic book version.  Not only did it bring the Joker into the modern era, it had a huge effect on both Batman and Barbara Gordon up until the present day.

     What’s also great is Joker’s origin story.  You see it sporadically throughout the book, and it portrays him in a sympathetic light as a failed comedian trying to help his wife and unborn baby.  That by itself is interesting, yet unoriginal.  No, it’s what Alan Moore does with it that’s great.  The Joker admits himself that he doesn’t remember his past perfectly, and in one of his greatest quotes every, says that “If I’m going to have a past, I prefer it to be multiple choice!”  Add to that the beautifully detailed pencils of Brian Bolland, and you’ve got a smash hit.  Bolland is easily one of the best artists that the comic book business has ever had.  And his re-coloring in the 20th anniversary addition is superb.  This is one of the best Batman stories ever, and it’s certainly the best Joker story ever.  You want the real Joker?  Read this.

Plot: 9.8      Art: 9.8      Dialogue: 9.8      Overall: 9.8

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