Warning: contains a preview for Joker #3!
While the Joker has been behind many of DC Comics’ darkest moment, no story has managed to leave the same grim impression as Alan Moore, Brian Bolland, and John Higgins’ Batman: The Killing Joke. Perhaps the seminal story about the Clown Prince of Crime, The Killing Joke has been a huge influence over how Joker is understood both in the comics and in wider media, but now an upcoming issue of Joker’s ongoing solo title will revisit this dark pseudo-origin story from a different perspective.
The Killing Joke tells the story of Joker’s attempt to break Commissioner James Gordon, attacking his daughter Barbara and then kidnapping Gordon and subjecting him to psychological torture, all in an attempt to prove his point that pushed far enough, anyone could become the Joker. Of course, Gordon resists, proving Joker wrong in a story that ends on a note suggesting that while not everyone is suppressing their own personal Joker, Batman may well be cut from the same cloth (or, if you believe a certain fan theory, proving it as Batman kills the Joker off-panel.)
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Now, a preview of The Joker #3 shared by AIPT revisits Gordon’s torture from his perspective. While The Killing Joke doesn’t skimp on depicting Commissioner Gordon’s suffering, his ultimate response is the crux of the story, and readers don’t get much of a glimpse inside his head until he’s rescued, telling Batman to bring Joker in by the book. James Tynion IV, Guillem March, Arif Prianto, and Tom Napolitano’s The Joker #3 revisits Gordon’s “one bad day,” delving into the true horror of his experience and what it’s like to actually face the Joker.
In a fascinating if disturbing scene, Gordon describes the sensory experience of being captured by Joker, admitting that he still returns to that night in his dreams. He also reveals that his continued sanity wasn’t a foregone conclusion, and that when Joker assured him he was going mad in the original story, he originally believed it, if only because of the almost hypnotic effect of the Clown Prince of Crime’s performance.
The Joker has done a fantastic job of detaching Gordon and Joker from Batman and establishing that their feud is just as potent as the supervillain’s relationship with the Dark Knight. Joker left Barbara Gordon unable to walk for years of her life, ravaged the city Gordon had sworn to protect, and ultimately had a hand in the death of his son. Now, the story reminds fans that The Killing Joke is as much a story of Gordon’s fortitude as Batman’s instability, even as the stalwart commissioner is tempted to fulfill his new employers’ directive to murder Joker in cold blood and earn the money that would support his family after his retirement. Gordon survived the Joker’s torture, but as the end of his career looms and he takes stock of what the villain went on to do, will he be able to resist taking revenge? Find the answer in The Joker #3, coming to physical and digital retailers May 11.
Next: Joker Writer Hints at Return of Bane (and His Daughter, Vengeance)
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