Did Batman kill the Joker in ‘The Killing Joke’?
The Killing Joke, since its release in 1988, has been hailed as an iconic tale of Batman’s never-ending duel with the Clown Prince of Crime. But what if most of us have been reading the ending wrong, and Moore actually intended this to be the last Batman/Joker story? That’s the case according to longtime Batman scribe Grant Morrison. In a recent installment of Kevin Smith’s Fat Man on Batman podcast, Morrison got into his interpretation of Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s The Killing Joke, blowing many nerd minds in the process:
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.
Since news of this broke, many have been quick to point out some of the holes in this theory. Without going into the fanboy fact that Batman NEVER kills, some have said that we need only look at the stories that followed. The Killing Joke was the story that instituted Barbara Gordon (Batgirl) becoming paralized as a result of Joker shooting her, ultimately leading to her becoming known as Oracle within the pages of many DC Comics. To add to that, Joker clearly didn’t die in regular continuity given that he has appeared in countless stories since then.
However, Alan Moore has stated that he never intended this one-off with Brian Bolland to be taking place within continuity, and therefore it’s easy to deduce that in writing the story Moore may not have been keeping ramifications of future issues in mind. I don’t think it is beyond Moore to examine the end; that moment when Batman finally realizes that he’s had enough, and snaps.
Take a look at the final page in question, and give a listen to Morrison’s thoughts on the subject.