We here at 2 Bad Guys like to encourage new readers as much as possible. So when a young man, by the name of Tim Ricketts, is searching for his first Batman fix, what's a bad guy to do? Action Ash was on the case with 'The Killing Joke' in hand. However, being the black hearted villain that I am, the borrowing of the book came with a price. Tim would have to do a guest review and forever sully his name by having it associated with those of the 2 Bad Guys from an 80s Movie...
After having watched and loved the recent Christopher Nolan film trilogy, as well as countless episodes of The Batman cartoon series when I was younger, I figured it was about time I actually picked up some comics and followed my favourite hero even further. One of my friends recommended The Killing Joke and, luckily, Ash just so happened to have a copy that he kindly offered to lend me. When I was finished with it, he asked if I'd like to write a review of it as not only a first-time Batman reader, but also someone that's never properly read comics before...
If Alan Moore had approached me (you're going to have to use your imagination here) and said "Hey, I'm thinking of writing a Joker origin story, but as flashbacks within another story. What do you think?", my gut reaction would be to reply "No, that's a terrible idea. Just focus purely on an origin story itself". That's what I expected The Killing Joke to be and, whilst I still think it would've been better like that, it's actual layout is brilliant. It's like you're getting two stories for the price of one, but it doesn't feel like you're hopelessly trying to juggle them both at the same time. Thanks to the perfect transitions between the flashbacks and current events, there's no disruption or stop-starting at all. For example, a frame depicting The Joker gazing into a puddle at a carnival cleverly switches to a flashback of him doing the same, but into a river outside a chemical plant. You really have to see this for yourself to appreciate just how well it's done.
The art isn't something to be underestimated either. There's so much detail on every page and Brian Bolland obviously spent a lot of time on it. It all paid off though and the result is just beautiful. It's generally very pleasing to the eye and compliments the story really well too.
The Killing Joke clearly has a very dark element to it and, without giving anything away, The Joker does commit some pretty horrific acts. New readers such as myself will find him more reminiscent of Heath Ledger's amazing portrayal in The Dark Knight than any other, which, in my opinion, is definitely the better kind.
After reading The Killing Joke, it's easy to understand why this issue is so revered and considered by many as one of the best. If, like me, you're new to Batman comics, don't worry about starting with this one and not something like Year One instead. Everyone knows about the Dark Knight's constant battle with The Joker anyway, so it's not going to affect any reading order too much (apart from perhaps one little bit, but I'm not going to ruin the story for you). And if you're into him already but haven't given it a go yet, you're missing out. Either way, it's definitely worth a read.