Grant Morrison, having just wrapped his run on ‘Batman Incorporated’, officially ending his seven-year tenure guiding the adventures of The Dark Knight, stopped by Kevin Smith’s podcast Fatman on Batman for a chat and possibly spoiled the ending of a 25-year old Bat tale that nearly everyone has read… and apparently misinterpreted!
Their discussion shifted to the classic 1988 graphic novel ‘Batman: The Killing Joke’ by Alan Moore with art by Brian Bolland, with Morrison laughingly pointing out, in a very matter-of-fact manner, that:
“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.”
Smith reacts incredulously, but Morrison embellishes “But he did it in such a way that it’s ambiguous, so people will never have to be sure, which means it doesn’t have to be the last Batman/Joker story. It’s brilliant!”
Check out the climactic page below. As you can see, after The Joker tells ‘the killing joke’ both he and Batman erupt in a fit of laughter, growing closer and closer to one another. The “camera” zooms in, finally stopping on the pair’s feet. Suddenly, the laughter abruptly stops. The siren’s whir fades and the reflection of the approaching police car’s lights vanishes.
Granted, there’s no “snap” like in ‘The Dark Knight Returns’, but as Morrison points out that was in order to leave the ending ambiguous.
Listen to the entire discussion yourself:
Now granted, ‘The Killing Joke’s’ place in continuity has always been a tad shaky. The crippling of Barbara (Batgirl) Gordon was kept in continuity, as she eventually became the paraplegic database Oracle. But the larger part of the story, the “definitive” origin of The Joker was delivered in an unclear manner and is therefore considered at least questionable if not false.
Did you interpret this sequence the same way Morrison did? Do you think Batman killed The Joker? Or do you think Morrison is reading too much into it? Comment below!