**spoiler alert** While Batman: The Killing Joke is widely considered to be one of the greatest Batman stories, many reviewers find fault with the end...more**spoiler alert** While Batman: The Killing Joke is widely considered to be one of the greatest Batman stories, many reviewers find fault with the ending, where Batman and The Joker share a laugh. Tim Callahan, writing for Tor, sums up this viewpoint nicely: "The end is as phony as they come, not even in keeping with what Moore and Bolland have built."
But there is another interpretation of those final frames that is much more satisfying, and in my mind redeems Moore's story: Batman kills The Joker. Here's how Grant Morrison interprets it:
“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.”
Still, The Killing Joke is not without its faults. The crippling of Batgirl by The Joker is insensitively handled, and has rightly drawn feminist criticism, and the story's parade of carnivalesque perversities may have been disruptive to the comics mainstream when the book was released, but seem adolescent today.
If you're new to Moore I wouldn't start here, and Moore himself has criticised his work on The Killing Joke, saying "I don't think it's a very good book. It's not saying anything very interesting." Nevertheless, The Killing Joke might still be considered an important, albeit flawed, masterpiece.(less)
A collection of single panel comics that speculate what life might have been like if Darth Vader had chosen to raise Anakin Skywalker himself. Perfect...moreA collection of single panel comics that speculate what life might have been like if Darth Vader had chosen to raise Anakin Skywalker himself. Perfect for anyone who grew up watching Star Wars, and now has kids of their own. The force is strong with this one.(less)
100 Bullets starts very strongly, as a series of standalone morality tales tied together by hints of a shadowy conspiracy. The mysterious Agent Graves...more100 Bullets starts very strongly, as a series of standalone morality tales tied together by hints of a shadowy conspiracy. The mysterious Agent Graves offers someone who has fallen on hard times an attaché case containing 100 untraceable bullets, and the opportunity to take revenge on the person who ruined their life.
In later issues Azzarello abandons the attaché case premise to concentrate on a meta story involving Graves' employer "The Trust", an alliance of 13 ultra powerful families who secretly control modern America. The conspiracy theory is compelling, but the story's many plot threads quickly become tangled. Characters switch loyalties so frequently it's difficult to make sense of their motivations, and this sense of confusion is compounded by the fact that some characters look so alike it's sometimes hard to tell who's stabbing who in the back, or why.
On many levels 100 Bullets is brilliant. The artwork is mind blowing. The dialogue is multi-layered. The action scenes set the pulse racing, and there are some emotionally powerful story arcs. But 100 Bullets' lacks an "aha" moment that ties everything together, a payoff for its narrative obscurity and epic length.(less)