Pretty much the number one conversation in comic-dom the past few days has been Grant Morrison’s comments about the end of Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s 1988 graphic novel “The Killing Joke”. In an interview with Kevin Smith, Morrison said:
“No one gets the end, because Batman kills The Joker. […] That’s why it’s called ’The Killing Joke’. The Joker tells the ‘Killing Joke’ at the end, Batman reaches out and breaks his neck, and that’s why the laughter stops and the light goes out, ’cause that was the last chance at crossing that bridge. And Alan Moore wrote the ultimate Batman/Joker story — he finished it.”
Not so fast, Morrison! Also recently surfaced is Alan Moore’s script for “The Killing Joke”. Skipping ahead to the end reveals a couple of key details that pretty much directly contradict this statement. You can read the whole thing here, but here’s the description of the last two panels in the book:
8. Now we close in still further until the puddles fill the entire panel. The patterns of reflected blue and white light seem to break up into quiverings fragments as we get closer to the puddle, and we can clearly see the expanding hoops of the ripples that the rain is causing across its surface. We can no longer hear the sirens.
9. Now we have closed in so tight we can just see the silver-white ripples pattern spreading out across the inky blackness, more an abstract design than anything else.
(I’d rather not put the words ’the end’ in the last panel. Could we either put nothing at all and let the readers decide that they’ve reached the end because there aren’t any more pages left, or maybe just put a little black or white silhouette of a bat? Whichever you think will look best.
Besides marking the last time Alan Moore ever cared what anyone else thought, this is pretty significant for a number of reasons:
1) Ripples: What’s “The Killing Joke” about, if not that the cycle of Batman vs. Joker continues again and again. The Joker’s whole point in the story is that his madness can radiate outwards. Moore isn’t focusing on the puddle because he’s pulling away from Batman killing The Joker, he’s pulling away because this is a visual reminder of what the story is about.
2) The End: “I’d rather not put the words ’the end’ in the last panel,” says Moore. Could there be any more direct contradiction to Morrison’s idea that this is the last Batman story? Nope.
There’s one more little bit that I think is crucial. Moore hand-writes a note at the bottom of the page, in reference to “silhouette of a bat,” saying:
Or maybe a tiny Joker playing card, since this is his graphic novel rather than The Batman’s.
Again, for emphasis this time: this isn’t Batman’s story, it’s The Joker’s. It COULD be the last Joker story, certainly, but it’s not – according to this note – the story of Batman and The Joker. It’s The Joker, solo.
So there you go! Still up to interpretation? Absolutely, authors often put in ideas and themes they don’t even know are there. Is Alan Moore one of those guys? Not really at all, ever, but hey, this could be the exception! Who knows?
What do you think, folks? Does this put the final nail in the coffin that for some reason someone built to hold Grant Morrison’s idea that “The Killing Joke” ends with Batman killing The Joker?
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