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This is the fourth book I read from the iconic ones which reinterpreted the Batman myth. This one is a 46-page book about how the Joker came to be. It is regarded as one of the great watershed books in the Batman universe. It describes how the Joker was a normal person, a common man, and how people and circumstances and society made him what he came to be. It tries to show that the line separating sanity and insanity is very thin. This book is less about Batman and more about the Joker. There is nothing much that I would like to say about the book – it is slim and so you should read it and discover its secrets yourself. I will sing some praises though. Here they come.

The Killing Joke‘ is written by Alan Moore. So the book is as unconventional as they come and very different from other Batman books. The artwork by Brian Bolland is stunning. I think this is the most beautiful artwork out of all the recent Batman books I have read. The other artists I am comparing Brian Bolland to, are Tim Sale (‘The Long Halloween‘), Frank Miller (‘The Dark Knight Returns‘) and David Mazzucchelli (‘Year One‘). I liked them all, but Brian Bolland’s art was the most beautiful. Tim Sale is probably my next favourite, followed by David Mazzucchelli, with Frank Miller bringing up the rear (Sorry Frank!). I will keep an eye for more Brian Bolland illustrated books. There is a beautiful introduction at the beginning of the book by Tim Sale, who describes the impact the book had on him and other readers when it first came out. There is an afterword by Brian Bolland, the man himself, in which he describes how the book came into being. I loved reading these two great artists’ thoughts.

I think ‘The Killing Joke‘ might be my alltime favourite Batman book, because of the stunning artwork and for the amazing stuff that the Joker says. He almost becomes Nietzsche when he speaks those insightful lines. I have shared some pages so that you can get a feel for them. (I am not sure, but there might be some spoilers. So please be forewarned.) ‘The Long Halloween‘ will probably come in second and on a good day, might give ‘The Killing Joke‘ a run for its money.

Have you read ‘The Killing Joke‘? What do you think about it?

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I normally read a few comics and graphic novels every year. Most of the time, I read them at the end of the year, when I want to read more books in less time. But I buy comics every year – I subscribe to a particular comics and I get around 40 issues in a year. These are piled up now and they form a few book towers in my home. This year I thought it is time to read more comics and make a dent into those comics piles. In recent times, we have had many discussions on comics in our book group and one of our group members and friends, Avishek, who is also a fellow raccoon, and who is our resident Batman, because he has read every Batman comic ever published, shared his list of favourite Batman books. As I could get my hands on ‘The Long Halloween‘ first, I thought I will start with this one.

If you have seen any of the contemporary era Batman movies, or seen the TV show ‘Gotham‘, you will be familiar with many of the elements of the story told in ‘The Long Halloween‘. There are two bad guys who try to take over Gotham City – Carmine Falcone and Sal Maroni. Carmine is the more powerful of the two. Batman and his friends, Police Commissioner Jim Gordon and District Attorney Harvey Dent try to bring Carmine Falcone to justice for his crimes. In between, a mysterious killer surfaces in Gotham, and kills people on important holidays. He calls himself ‘Holiday’. Then we have people who belong to what is fondly called ‘Batman’s rogues gallery’ – people like the Joker, the Riddler, Poison Ivy, the Mad Hatter etc. who are upto their own mischief. What happens when all these events are woven together forms the rest of the story.

I loved ‘The Long Halloween‘. It is fast-paced and gripping. It is around 400 pages long, but one doesn’t feel that, because the pages just zip by. The ending is very unexpected and surprising and I didn’t see that coming. The characters are all interestingly depicted and one of my favourites was Catwoman – she was charming. Tim Sale’s artwork is noir-ish, and he uses a lot of dark shade and it is very atmospheric and haunting. There is a two page conversation, at the beginning of the book, between Christopher Nolan and David Goyer, both of whom worked together in the Batman movie ‘The Dark Knight Rises‘, which is very fascinating. Nolan says that ‘The Long Halloween’ is more than a comic book, it’s an epic tragedy. It is very true. If you read the book, you’ll know why.

I have shared below some of the scenes from the book – some which feature Catwoman and one which features the Joker – so that they can give you a flavour of what is in store.

Batman and Catwoman – 1

Batman and Catwoman – 2

Batman and Catwoman – 3

The Joker

The Batman Rogues Gallery

Have you read ‘The Long Halloween‘? What do you think about it?

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