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View Full Version : Batman: The Killing Joke - What Really happened at the end (spoilers)



Masculine Todd
02-23-2007, 09:47 PM
So I'm thinking Batman kills Joker after they laugh together off panel, as the laughter suddenly stops but the puddle continues.

Anyone seen an interview with Alan Moore on how he intended it to be perceived?

Afny
02-23-2007, 09:49 PM
I always thought he killed him, but I wonder how that fits in with batman continuity.

Jerome Gibbons
02-23-2007, 09:51 PM
Well, evidently, he didn't kill the Joker, seeing as...well, you know.



I never thought it was supposed to be perceived in any way other than the story just ended. The meaning of the joke itself and how it extrapolates with Batman's relationship with the Joker is the thing that's always drawn my attention.

Ryan Elliott
02-23-2007, 10:03 PM
They...they just laughed together. :-?



Stop reading so much into this shit!! :mad:

Ryan Elliott
02-23-2007, 10:05 PM
Oh, and Joker DIDN'T rape Babs.

joeAR
02-23-2007, 10:09 PM
Oh, and Joker DIDN'T rape Babs.


Where the Hell did that come from?

The Human Target
02-23-2007, 10:10 PM
That was the worst ending to a good comic ever.

Jerome Gibbons
02-23-2007, 10:12 PM
That was the worst ending to a good comic ever.

Yeah? I liked the ending, but thought the comic itself wasn't very good.

The Human Target
02-23-2007, 10:20 PM
Yeah? I liked the ending, but thought the comic itself wasn't very good.

I think we have to fight to the death now.

Jerome Gibbons
02-23-2007, 10:21 PM
I think we have to fight to the death now.

Lightsabers or scimitars?

The Human Target
02-23-2007, 10:36 PM
Lightsabers or scimitars?

Both.

I have dual wielding weapon proficiencies.

Tony Bang
02-23-2007, 10:39 PM
I think we have to fight to the death now.

But Moore even says its not that great.

The Human Target
02-23-2007, 10:44 PM
But Moore even says its not that great.

I never said it was great either. :)

Its was pretty good, but I hated the ending.

Juggernaut
02-23-2007, 10:50 PM
I loved the comic....only wished Joker had bathed in Bab's blood...would have made it much more appauling.

Knightspider
02-23-2007, 11:09 PM
Ryan Elliott

awsome sig:rock:

;)

Hunter Rose
02-24-2007, 12:20 AM
Oh, and Joker DIDN'T rape Babs.

Literally, no. Subtextually, yeah, you were supposed to get that vibe. Hence him stripping her naked.

As for the ending -- it kinda bugged me, too. Bats laughing just didn't work for me.

Albert
02-24-2007, 12:29 AM
But Moore even says its not that great.

Yeah, but a lot of time creative people are dissatisfied with their output after a while. It doesn't mean WE can't like it, especially given with what must be ridiculously high standards on Moore's part.

Vonn Hennigar
02-24-2007, 12:29 AM
The circular ripples that the raindrops made as they fell to the ground supposedly signified Batman and Joker's never-ending feud.

Resigned to go in circles forever.

So no Batman certainly didn't kill the Joker, not to mention that well you know the Joker's still alive going on 20 years later and The Killing Joke has always been part official canon.

The Doctor
02-24-2007, 04:12 AM
Ryan Elliott

awsome sig:rock:

;)

I endorse this statement.

Mr. E!
02-24-2007, 04:40 AM
It all ties in to the monologue at the beginning, where Batman says that he feels like they are hurtling to some unavoidable place where one of them will kill the other, and he's trying to avoid that.
At the end, I've always seen it as the fulfillment of that for the both of them. Joker and Batman share a moment, that laugh at the end, a break from all the horror and madness, but then the light (much like the flashlight from the joke) goes out, leaving the last panel black. There is no hope of avoiding the future that Batman predicted in the opening. I never read it as Batman killing Joker right then and there. The silhouette of him reaching out and grabbing Joker always seemed to have two meanings: he's reaching out to steady himself from the laughter, and also he's grabbing Joker to take him in (IIRC...I haven't read this in at least 10 years...)

Lord Jermaine Retail
02-24-2007, 05:16 AM
They...they just laughed together. :-?



Stop reading so much into this shit!! :mad:

He held him there until the police arrived. I never thought anything else. Batman and Joker were on a collision course with mutual destruction, and still are. But for that moment, there was a tiny bit of clarity. Joker is insane and Batman cannot be driven insane no matter what Joker does. He'll always be there to stop him, never kill him.

Masculine Todd
02-24-2007, 06:14 AM
The Killing Joke has always been part official canon.

No, it hasn't. The Killing Joke was originally outside continuity, hence Batgirl prancing around after the release until 1989's Suicide Squad, where she appeared in a wheelchair as a tech guru.

Also, Joker's origins have not been retrofitted to DCU continuity, thus only bits and pieces of The Killing Joke are continuity fodder.

The Cheap-Arse Film Critic
02-24-2007, 06:22 AM
I personally like to think both Batman and Joker have a shared moment of clarity, and it dawns on both of them just how truly ridiculous both them and their history actually are.

The Cheap-Arse Film Critic
02-24-2007, 06:23 AM
No, it hasn't. The Killing Joke was originally outside continuity, hence Batgirl prancing around after the release until 1989's Suicide Squad, where she appeared in a wheelchair as a tech guru.

Also, Joker's origins have not been retrofitted to DCU continuity, thus only bits and pieces of The Killing Joke are continuity fodder.

The events of The Killing Joke have always been the recognised version of why she was in wheelchair, and switched from Batgirl to Oracle.

Masculine Todd
02-24-2007, 06:36 AM
The events of The Killing Joke have always been the recognised version of why she was in wheelchair, and switched from Batgirl to Oracle.

I never said anything to the contrary, however, this was decided almost a year after The Killing Joke happened, as it was originally going to be an out-of-continuity one-shot. :wink:

For that matter, only select sections of the story are canon.

Vonn Hennigar
02-24-2007, 07:08 AM
I never said anything to the contrary, however, this was decided almost a year after The Killing Joke happened, as it was originally going to be an out-of-continuity one-shot. :wink:

For that matter, only select sections of the story are canon.

I highly doubt DC will ever have the balls to tell the Joker's origin, so for now this version is still canonical.

If they do a "real" origin i'm sure they'll throw the fans a bone and say this version was just Joker's insane ramblings.

But until then it's official to me.

Masculine Todd
02-24-2007, 07:27 AM
I highly doubt DC will ever have the balls to tell the Joker's origin, so for now this version is still canonical.

If they do a "real" origin i'm sure they'll throw the fans a bone and say this version was just Joker's insane ramblings.

But until then it's official to me.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not arguing or anything. The only reason I say "parts of it are canon" is because that's what Len Wein (editor who was consulted on TKJ) said, as well as Moore.

But yeah, I would prefer not to have a concrete origin story for Joker. In TKJ, Joker even states he "remembers it differently each time" and that he'd rather have a multiple-choice memory. The ambiguity adds to Joker's cryptic, disturbing aura. I take what was presented in TKJ with a grain of salt, due to Wein, Moore, and The Joker himself.

Jacob Lyon Goddard
02-24-2007, 07:34 AM
No, it hasn't. The Killing Joke was originally outside continuity, hence Batgirl prancing around after the release until 1989's Suicide Squad, where she appeared in a wheelchair as a tech guru.

Also, Joker's origins have not been retrofitted to DCU continuity, thus only bits and pieces of The Killing Joke are continuity fodder.

and people wonder why comics don't get as many new readers

kylethoreau
02-24-2007, 07:37 AM
I for one think that if Joker's origin was put down as etched in stone, it would ruin the character.


hell his 'multiple choice' line in TKJ saved it.

great comic btw

Jerome Gibbons
02-24-2007, 10:50 AM
He held him there until the police arrived. I never thought anything else. Batman and Joker were on a collision course with mutual destruction, and still are. But for that moment, there was a tiny bit of clarity. Joker is insane and Batman cannot be driven insane no matter what Joker does. He'll always be there to stop him, never kill him.

I always read it as, deep down, Batman is in fact just as insane as the Joker. He just manifests his insanity in a different, diametrically opposite way. The Joker is all about chaos and destruction, Batman is order and salvation. But they're both quite insane and the fact that they continue their ridiculous feud after all these years is symptomatic of that. The only reason why we don't think Batman is insane is because we are subconsciously used to the idea that he, being the protagonist, is "the good guy", and he does do a lot of good, but that in no way undermines his position as the Joker's homologue in the spectrum of insanity that is their battle.

Hence, the joke. Two inmates escape from an asylum. One of them jumps from the rooftop of the building to the other, and invites his partner to do the same. The latter can't, because he is afraid that he won't make it and fall. The first inmate has a clearly insane idea: he'll shine his flashlight between the two buildings so that the other inmate can walk across the beam of light. The other inmate dismisses this idea, thus giving the impression that he is not as insane as his partner, until he gives his reasoning, which inevitably marks them both as delusional. The way I see it, the first inmate is the Joker. Clearly insane, with outlandish, chaotic ideas that pour from him constantly. The second inmate is Batman, seemingly level-headed and with a clear mind, but in the end, just as crazy as his partner.

At least, that's the way I read it. Me and my brother came up with this interpretation awhile back, and while we've gone back and forth on explanations behind the joke and how it correlates with Batman and the Joker, I think I like this one the most. For now, at least.

Jerome Gibbons
02-24-2007, 10:54 AM
In regards to the Joker's origin: despite his "multiple choice" remark about his past, I believe quite a few bits of what we saw in The Killing Joke have been confirmed as canon during the last couple of years, in a story where an eyewitness (who, if I recall correctly, turned out to be the Riddler) confirms the Joker's wife's death or something or other.

The Doctor
02-24-2007, 10:58 AM
In regards to the Joker's origin: despite his "multiple choice" remark about his past, I believe quite a few bits of what we saw in The Killing Joke have been confirmed as canon during the last couple of years, in a story where an eyewitness (who, if I recall correctly, turned out to be the Riddler) confirms the Joker's wife's death or something or other.

That might be out of continuity now that IC is over.

Jerome Gibbons
02-24-2007, 11:01 AM
That might be out of continuity now that IC is over.

Yeah, but they haven't established that it is yet, so it's possible.



I kinda don't know how I feel about it yet. I mean, I always thought that origin story was a little bit silly, on the one hand. On the other, it'd be cool to have Moore's story be the official origin story for a character as important and iconic as the Joker. So...I dunno...

The Doctor
02-24-2007, 11:06 AM
Yeah, but they haven't established that it is yet, so it's possible.



I kinda don't know how I feel about it yet. I mean, I always thought that origin story was a little bit silly, on the one hand. On the other, it'd be cool to have Moore's story be the official origin story for a character as important and iconic as the Joker. So...I dunno...
I guess it'll be made clearer when they get to 'the origin of Batman' in 52.

Vonn Hennigar
02-24-2007, 11:14 AM
I guess it'll be made clearer when they get to 'the origin of Batman' in 52.

Why would they even discuss the Joker in Batman's meagre 2 page 8 panel origin?

Sure one of the panels may have the Joker being punched or something but that's about it.

The Doctor
02-24-2007, 11:17 AM
Why would they even discuss the Joker in Batman's meagre 2 page 8 panel origin?

Sure one of the panels may have the Joker being punched or something but that's about it.

I don't know I was just guessing:(

Vonn Hennigar
02-24-2007, 11:21 AM
I don't know I was just guessing:(

Well you guessed WRONG!:D

But now that you mention it i seem to recall news of Brian Bolland doing one of these 52 Origins for The Joker some time back.

But i may have dreamed that.

Ryan Elliott
02-24-2007, 11:25 AM
Given my druthers, I'd rather Joker's origin be the one from Batman: Black & White-Case Study.


I like that one a lot better.

Los
02-24-2007, 11:43 AM
I always read it as, deep down, Batman is in fact just as insane as the Joker. He just manifests his insanity in a different, diametrically opposite way. The Joker is all about chaos and destruction, Batman is order and salvation. But they're both quite insane and the fact that they continue their ridiculous feud after all these years is symptomatic of that. The only reason why we don't think Batman is insane is because we are subconsciously used to the idea that he, being the protagonist, is "the good guy", and he does do a lot of good, but that in no way undermines his position as the Joker's homologue in the spectrum of insanity that is their battle.

Hence, the joke. Two inmates escape from an asylum. One of them jumps from the rooftop of the building to the other, and invites his partner to do the same. The latter can't, because he is afraid that he won't make it and fall. The first inmate has a clearly insane idea: he'll shine his flashlight between the two buildings so that the other inmate can walk across the beam of light. The other inmate dismisses this idea, thus giving the impression that he is not as insane as his partner, until he gives his reasoning, which inevitably marks them both as delusional. The way I see it, the first inmate is the Joker. Clearly insane, with outlandish, chaotic ideas that pour from him constantly. The second inmate is Batman, seemingly level-headed and with a clear mind, but in the end, just as crazy as his partner.

At least, that's the way I read it. Me and my brother came up with this interpretation awhile back, and while we've gone back and forth on explanations behind the joke and how it correlates with Batman and the Joker, I think I like this one the most. For now, at least.

I like your take. I have a similar take, but in mine the inmates are backwards. Batman is the first inmate trying to get the joker to come to his side. And joker is the second inmate, filled with mistrust that if he tries to go to the other side he'll just end up falling because that's just the way the world is.

The Doctor
02-24-2007, 11:52 AM
Well you guessed WRONG!:D

But now that you mention it i seem to recall news of Brian Bolland doing one of these 52 Origins for The Joker some time back.

But i may have dreamed that.

Ha see who's stupid now:miffed:

That's right it's Gimp.

Jerome Gibbons
02-24-2007, 12:30 PM
Ha see who's stupid now:miffed:

That's right it's Gimp.

I require internet proof!





(And just because they're writing a story about the Joker's origin doesn't mean that it'll contradict Moore's. They could be cementing it into continuity for all we know. The fact that they got Brian Bolland to do it could be evidence to that.)

Lord Jermaine Retail
02-24-2007, 12:50 PM
That might be out of continuity now that IC is over.

You know, not knowing things like that until they decide to tell me is not fun.

Masculine Todd
02-24-2007, 04:20 PM
I always read it as, deep down, Batman is in fact just as insane as the Joker. He just manifests his insanity in a different, diametrically opposite way. The Joker is all about chaos and destruction, Batman is order and salvation. But they're both quite insane and the fact that they continue their ridiculous feud after all these years is symptomatic of that. The only reason why we don't think Batman is insane is because we are subconsciously used to the idea that he, being the protagonist, is "the good guy", and he does do a lot of good, but that in no way undermines his position as the Joker's homologue in the spectrum of insanity that is their battle.

Hence, the joke. Two inmates escape from an asylum. One of them jumps from the rooftop of the building to the other, and invites his partner to do the same. The latter can't, because he is afraid that he won't make it and fall. The first inmate has a clearly insane idea: he'll shine his flashlight between the two buildings so that the other inmate can walk across the beam of light. The other inmate dismisses this idea, thus giving the impression that he is not as insane as his partner, until he gives his reasoning, which inevitably marks them both as delusional. The way I see it, the first inmate is the Joker. Clearly insane, with outlandish, chaotic ideas that pour from him constantly. The second inmate is Batman, seemingly level-headed and with a clear mind, but in the end, just as crazy as his partner.

At least, that's the way I read it. Me and my brother came up with this interpretation awhile back, and while we've gone back and forth on explanations behind the joke and how it correlates with Batman and the Joker, I think I like this one the most. For now, at least.

I really like your interpretation of Batman's psychological state.

I have thought about this one before (or a variation of it) but mine is slightly different:

I view Batman as being, essentially, a manchild. When Bruce witnessed his parents' slaying, his personality and all he had been at that time died. It it's place grew a child's hatred, rage, and lust for vengeance. When you were twelve or so and the school bully would pick on you, a child wouldn't simply think of trying "to move past" the situation. One would have revenge fantasies and wish they were tougher, stronger, more monstrous so that they would strike fear into the bully.

Ultimately, Bruce was a child when the most disgusting, depraved act befell him. As a child, he wanted revenge, whereas an adult would try to find an outlet to move on from the hurt. He became set in time mentally insofar as his greatest desire was revenge, and as a child is prone to generalize, he wanted revenge on all criminals, not just the one. He made a vow to not necessarily protect others from a similar fate, because that is rather selfless for a child, but for revenge on criminals, the cowardly lot that took his parents and his life away.

Because he was so young when the only people he loved in the entire world were killed, he soon developed a mentally hindering phobia and/or paranoia to love/friendship. It was love that made the loss of his parents hurt so much, and as a result, having the irrationalities of a child, decided love and companionship only lead to pain and loss, hence his paranoid, cold, disconnected persona.

The being that was born on the night of Martha and Thomas Wayne's deaths was predestined to become a "monster", a "creature of the night". A child cannot make anything fear, but knows that his own ultimate fear is a monster. So if a child, filled with lust for revenge in his heart, wants to make a criminal feel the fear a child feels, he becomes a monster, hence Batman.

Ultimately, Batman is a psychologically stunted manboy. While he has gained maturity and wisdom that comes with age and experience, in various areas of his psyche, he is stunted and will forever carry the scared development of his six (?) year old mind. Batman cannot get too close to a lover, cannot become friends easily with others for fear of losing them. He cannot stop his war on crime because his vengeance will never bring his parents back, which is the reason behind his lust for revenge. It's vicious cycle, because he formulated his obsessive desire for childlike revenge as a boy, and as such let it develop and fester into a growing monster inside him.

He is emotionally unhealthy and not the shinning beacon of sanity, however I do not believe him to be insane, not entirely.

The Doctor
02-24-2007, 04:45 PM
I require internet proof!





(And just because they're writing a story about the Joker's origin doesn't mean that it'll contradict Moore's. They could be cementing it into continuity for all we know. The fact that they got Brian Bolland to do it could be evidence to that.)
We'll see we may never know.

You know, not knowing things like that until they decide to tell me is not fun.

Oh I agree.

Jerome Gibbons
02-24-2007, 04:52 PM
I really like your interpretation of Batman's psychological state.

I have thought about this one before (or a variation of it) but mine is slightly different:

I view Batman as being, essentially, a manchild. When Bruce witnessed his parents' slaying, his personality and all he had been at that time died. It it's place grew a child's hatred, rage, and lust for vengeance. When you were twelve or so and the school bully would pick on you, a child wouldn't simply think of trying "to move past" the situation. One would have revenge fantasies and wish they were tougher, stronger, more monstrous so that they would strike fear into the bully.

Ultimately, Bruce was a child when the most disgusting, depraved act befell him. As a child, he wanted revenge, whereas an adult would try to find an outlet to move on from the hurt. He became set in time mentally insofar as his greatest desire was revenge, and as a child is prone to generalize, he wanted revenge on all criminals, not just the one. He made a vow to not necessarily protect others from a similar fate, because that is rather selfless for a child, but for revenge on criminals, the cowardly lot that took his parents and his life away.

Because he was so young when the only people he loved in the entire world were killed, he soon developed a mentally hindering phobia and/or paranoia to love/friendship. It was love that made the loss of his parents hurt so much, and as a result, having the irrationalities of a child, decided love and companionship only lead to pain and loss, hence his paranoid, cold, disconnected persona.

The being that was born on the night of Martha and Thomas Wayne's deaths was predestined to become a "monster", a "creature of the night". A child cannot make anything fear, but knows that his own ultimate fear is a monster. So if a child, filled with lust for revenge in his heart, wants to make a criminal feel the fear a child feels, he becomes a monster, hence Batman.

Ultimately, Batman is a psychologically stunted manboy. While he has gained maturity and wisdom that comes with age and experience, in various areas of his psyche, he is stunted and will forever carry the scared development of his six (?) year old mind. Batman cannot get too close to a lover, cannot become friends easily with others for fear of losing them. He cannot stop his war on crime because his vengeance will never bring his parents back, which is the reason behind his lust for revenge. It's vicious cycle, because he formulated his obsessive desire for childlike revenge as a boy, and as such let it develop and fester into a growing monster inside him.

He is emotionally unhealthy and not the shinning beacon of sanity, however I do not believe him to be insane, not entirely.

This is a pretty cool interpretation of Batman's psyche, and one I've posited before. I've compared Batman to Frank Castle in this sense, especially Garth Ennis' interpretation of the Punisher. Deep down, they are both children who were, at one point in their lives, hurt quite badly, and thus feel the need to hurt back. So they attack the criminal element, and their respective wars on crime are just a result of their emotionally stilted development. Batman is perhaps the worse offender, as he still views the world with a very childlike mentality and point of view, whereas Frank just doesn't care about everyone and everything else. And this is actually one of the reasons why I sort of stopped being into Batman a couple of years back. I remember when I was a kid I used to think he was one of the coolest superheroes ever, until I started reading Batman interpretations from the last couple of years and came to the conclusion that he is, in the end, a whiny little kid crying out for mommy and daddy (as the Joker describes him in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker).

That's when I realized how...pathetic he was, really. And he is. Extremely pathetic, an undeveloped man with a child's mind and a child's feelings. What's worse is that, in spite of this, he also has these really stupid views of himself, as some sort of dark individual, a creature of the night or whatever who is above and beyond other individuals, relationships, etc. And that's another thing that stopped my enjoyment of the character, because there's nothing more annoying than someone who harbors the immaturity of a child coupled with a superiority complex (or in Batman's case, a "dark" variation of a superiority complex, wherein he seems himself as being different and detached from everyone else). There's buckets more I could say about the character, about the many different interpretations of Batman I've come up with during the last few years, but this post is getting quite long already and I doubt anyone would fee like reading it as it is. So best to leave it here.

Masculine Todd
02-24-2007, 05:28 PM
This is a pretty cool interpretation of Batman's psyche, and one I've posited before. I've compared Batman to Frank Castle in this sense, especially Garth Ennis' interpretation of the Punisher. Deep down, they are both children who were, at one point in their lives, hurt quite badly, and thus feel the need to hurt back. So they attack the criminal element, and their respective wars on crime are just a result of their emotionally stilted development. Batman is perhaps the worse offender, as he still views the world with a very childlike mentality and point of view, whereas Frank just doesn't care about everyone and everything else. And this is actually one of the reasons why I sort of stopped being into Batman a couple of years back. I remember when I was a kid I used to think he was one of the coolest superheroes ever, until I started reading Batman interpretations from the last couple of years and came to the conclusion that he is, in the end, a whiny little kid crying out for mommy and daddy (as the Joker describes him in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker).

That's when I realized how...pathetic he was, really. And he is. Extremely pathetic, an undeveloped man with a child's mind and a child's feelings. What's worse is that, in spite of this, he also has these really stupid views of himself, as some sort of dark individual, a creature of the night or whatever who is above and beyond other individuals, relationships, etc. And that's another thing that stopped my enjoyment of the character, because there's nothing more annoying than someone who harbors the immaturity of a child coupled with a superiority complex (or in Batman's case, a "dark" variation of a superiority complex, wherein he seems himself as being different and detached from everyone else). There's buckets more I could say about the character, about the many different interpretations of Batman I've come up with during the last few years, but this post is getting quite long already and I doubt anyone would fee like reading it as it is. So best to leave it here.

I agree with a lot of your points with the exception of "I don't dig him because of his undeveloped personality".

Batman is one of (he battles Cyclops and Daredevil) my favorite characters solely on the basis that he is such a unique enigma. He is the most feared character in the DCU, yet he has no power. He is the epitome of human achievement and is more of a threat than most of the god-like entities and characters that parade around the DCU.

But it is his complex psyche that makes him a fascinating beast. He is this character filled with great amounts of knowledge: chemistry, mythology, sciences of all kids, various fighting styles, human anatomy, strategy, ect. and has years of wisdom, making him a very well-rounded and versatile person; yet Batman has the emotional development in terms of capability to love and let others in, and an obsession factor of a boy. It's such a great dichotomy that makes him so engaging.

Also, especially in the OYL timeline, we've seen Batman become more excepting of his peers. In Robin, for instances, he has been quite fatherly to Tim, in The Brave & The Bold, he and Hal have put their differences aside, something the obsessive and paranoid Batman of old would never be able to do. In Loeb's Superman/Batman run, we saw the intense mutual respect, and more important, their mutual friendship on display.

Batman has slowly shown growth in his character, fighting his almost-masochistic, childish, and bitter mind to become a better person. To see him fully become a functional character would rob him of his complexity, his motives for being Batman, and his relatability factor.

Maybe it's just the differences in your tastes and mine, and nobody is right here, but because of his psychological nuances, Batman is one of the most fascinating and enjoyable characters in all of comics.

jason hissong
02-24-2007, 05:35 PM
paul pope's 'batman: year 100' was excellent.

Ben
02-24-2007, 06:04 PM
I always thought they laughed because Batman farted.

ChrisCollins
02-24-2007, 08:03 PM
I always read it as, deep down, Batman is in fact just as insane as the Joker. He just manifests his insanity in a different, diametrically opposite way. The Joker is all about chaos and destruction, Batman is order and salvation. But they're both quite insane and the fact that they continue their ridiculous feud after all these years is symptomatic of that. The only reason why we don't think Batman is insane is because we are subconsciously used to the idea that he, being the protagonist, is "the good guy", and he does do a lot of good, but that in no way undermines his position as the Joker's homologue in the spectrum of insanity that is their battle.

Hence, the joke. Two inmates escape from an asylum. One of them jumps from the rooftop of the building to the other, and invites his partner to do the same. The latter can't, because he is afraid that he won't make it and fall. The first inmate has a clearly insane idea: he'll shine his flashlight between the two buildings so that the other inmate can walk across the beam of light. The other inmate dismisses this idea, thus giving the impression that he is not as insane as his partner, until he gives his reasoning, which inevitably marks them both as delusional. The way I see it, the first inmate is the Joker. Clearly insane, with outlandish, chaotic ideas that pour from him constantly. The second inmate is Batman, seemingly level-headed and with a clear mind, but in the end, just as crazy as his partner.

At least, that's the way I read it. Me and my brother came up with this interpretation awhile back, and while we've gone back and forth on explanations behind the joke and how it correlates with Batman and the Joker, I think I like this one the most. For now, at least.

I had a similar take on it as well, but the way I see it Batman is loony because he knows what must be done (the Joker has to be killed), but his sense of ethics won't allow him to do it, so the Joker will just keep on escaping and killing and maiming more people. So who is crazier, the homicidal maniac, or the guy who can't bring himself to stop the homicidal maniac because of his ethics?

Also metatextually I think it was Moore's comment on the whole Joker-Batman dynamic. The story was written as so brutal and in your face in order to expose how farcical it is that Batman keeps locking this guy up, knowing that he's only going to escape and kill again, while if it was the real world someone would have already put a bullet in Joker's head.