Review: Batman: The Killing Joke

For me, this animated adaptation is the story. It’s the story of Oracle.

Synopsis: Based on the acclaimed graphic novel of the same name, ‘Batman: The Killing Joke’ takes a journey into the dark psyche of the Clown Prince of Crime – from his humble beginnings as a struggling comedian to his fateful encounter with Batman that changes both of their lives forever. Years later, and now escaped from Arkham Asylum, The Joker devises a plan to prove that one bad day can make anyone as insane as he is – setting his sights on Commissioner Gordon. It’s up to the Dark Knight to put a stop to The Joker’s latest scheme and save one of Gotham City’s finest. Following a gripping prologue introducing Barbara Gordon’s heroic adventures alongside Batman as Batgirl, Batman: The Killing Joke stays true to the authentic tale that has held fans’ imaginations for nearly three decades – spotlighting the birth of a Super-Villain, the fortitude of a Super Hero and the punchline that will leave you speechless.

Review: I’m a woman. I have Cerebral Palsy. I use a wheelchair. In addition to affecting my limbs, Cerebral Palsy also affected my vision. As a result, I’m very selective reading comics, as they’re a problematic format. I’ve never read ‘The Killing Joke’. For me, this animated adaptation is the story. It’s the story of Oracle.

In structural terms, Adapter Brian Azzarello’s prologue is tacked on. However, the prologue also foreshadows Barbara becoming Oracle. It foreshadows Barbara’s agency and Barbara’s loss. These things are important. Alan Moore didn’t sin in writing ‘The Killing Joke’. He sinned in forgetting that allegory isn’t always allegory. People are assaulted. People are disabled. People have agency. People suffer loss. People have to live their stories. Barbara had to live her story. She had to become Oracle.

Cerebral Palsy is a birth defect — a life long condition. For me, DC Comics compounded Moore’s original sin by mandating Barbara get her legs back. They forgot that when it isn’t allegory, retcons are in short supply.

Having said that, I’ll move on to the story of Batman and The Joker. Alan Moore crafted a double-edged sword. His work became so seminal that everyone copied him. Becoming familiar with the copies first, I retroactively found The Killing Joke to be a pretentious slog. Fortunately, Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill elevated the pretentious slog by being the gods they are.

Cast: Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill, Tara Strong, Ray Wise

Director: Sam Liu

Writer: Brian Azzarello

Producers: Bruce Timm, Sam Register, Alan Burnett, Benjamin Melniker, Michael Uslan

Batman: The Killing Joke
  • Prologue, Performances
  • It's pretentious.
  • Story
  • Performances
  • Animation

Raissa Devereux became a life-long genre fan at the age of four when she first saw The Wizard of Oz at a screening at Arizona State University. Years later, she graduated from A.S.U. as an English major, History minor, Whovian, and Trekkie. Now a Florida transplant, she loves the opportunity Sci-Fi Pulse has given her to further explore space travel, time travel, masked heroes, gothic castles, and good yarns.
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