10 Comics You Loved As A Teen (But Should Never Return To)

10. The Killing Joke

The Killing Joke
DC Comics

Every now and then an entry comes along where you can literally hear guns cocking in the distance, but stay put, chill out, and let me explain why one of the most important Batman tales of all time isn't... actually... all that good.

On a purely technical level, The Killing Joke is masterful. Brian Bolland turns in the work of his career here, and whether you prefer the original colours or the ones from the Deluxe Edition, The Killing Joke is still a plainly stunning comic to look at it. It's also a book filled to the brim with iconic moments, while its discussion surrounding the duality of Joker and Batman is peerless in many regards. So why has the magic suddenly worn off in the three decades since it first hit the shelves?

Well, for all that The Killing Joke succeeds as a Batman/Joker story, it's its legacy that's more difficult to reckon with. In typical fashion, Moore himself has gone on the record to lament his Batman comic, describing it as a "regrettable misstep" in a Q&A session a few years back, while others have equally taken issue with the book's treatment of Barbara Gordon, who the Joker seriously maims in a bid to turn the Dark Knight's staunchest ally, Commissioner Gordon, insane.

These critiques are only worsened by the fact that comics legend Len Wein reportedly told Moore to "cripple the bitch" when he first informed him of his plans for Batgirl, with The Killing Joke now often decried by fans for typifying the "women in refrigerators" trope (although this story would take a nicer turn when Babs became one of the few disabled heroes in the superhero genre as Oracle).

Lastly - although it's not exactly the book's fault - it's fair to say that TKJ has inspired a near unending wave of material that seeks to explore the Joker's origin, even though the comic definitively states that not even the Clown Prince himself is aware of his beginnings. Every year a comic, film or some kind of adaptation seeks to explain the inexplainable, and they all go some way in lessening the legend of DC's most iconic supervillain.

Comics Editor
Comics Editor

WhatCulture's very own Comics Editor. Cats, comic books and spaghetti westerns are my thing. Rants about stuff @EwanRuinsThings