The TOP 13 BATMAN Countdown — #6: THE KILLING JOKE

No room for laughs…

In celebration of Detective Comics #1000 and Batman’s 80th anniversary this month, we’re counting down the 13 GREATEST BATMAN STORIES EVER — from all media — as selected by a panel of 16 experts, including such luminaries as former DC publisher Paul Levitz, legendary Batman artist Neal Adams and comics writers Ron Marz, Tom Peyer and Fred Van Lente. For a complete rundown of how the vote was conducted and the full list of panelists, click here. The countdown will run daily across 13 days and culminate in THE ULTIMATE BATMAN READING AND VIEWING GUIDE, which will feature every single Batman story cited by our panel.

PICK #7 was the Batman #1: “The Joker”

Next up on the countdown:


Written by Alan Moore. Illustrated by Brian Bolland.

I have long been on record about my distaste for The Killing Joke, even if I recognize its significant impact on both Batman and the comics industry.

So, it’s not really for me to write an entry here extolling its virtues. Nevertheless, the 1988 graphic novel obviously got strong support from our panelists, so I’ll turn the commentary over to some of the experts who voted for it:

Comics lecturer Dr. Christina Blanch made it her #6 pick: “I know there is controversy about this story but it made such an impact on me, I have to include it. The artwork is outstanding. Brian Bolland is an amazing storyteller right along with Alan Moore’s brilliant narrative. This is all about crazy and how (maybe) anyone can be pushed over the edge. About good and evil. The 2008 version, recolored by Bolland, is my favorite version and has a special place on my bookshelves.”

Mark Reinhart, author of The Batman Filmography, selected it at #5: “The merits of this work are still being hotly debated to this day — its takes on the Joker’s origin and Barbara Gordon’s tragic fate have both passionate admirers and equally passionate detractors. But there is no doubt that no matter how one feels about The Killing Joke, it has remained one of the most impactful Batman works ever created.”

Batman: The Brave and the Bold producer James Tucker had it at #3. He noted: “For good or ill, it’s influenced the direction of Batman and his supporting characters since its publication.”

NEXT: The #5 PICK is…



13 JOKER Stories That Are Better Than THE KILLING JOKE

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. I’m with you – not in my Top 13. Not even close. I pretty much despise it.

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  2. Barbara was used as a plot device, not as a character, it was to write her out of the Batman books altogether. Of course it didn’t take and came back as Oracle, a year later!

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  3. glad to see this make the list, probably my single favorite Batman story , and I say this as someone who has read every Batman story published since 1969 or so (and a lot of the earlier stories)

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  4. Blasphemy = I’m not a fan of Alan Moore. I like his League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Watchmen is a good story. I think The Killing Joke should be considered Elseworlds as he may or may not have intended it. Yes, it gave us Oracle. An excellent role model.

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