Dumb Fan Theories, Part I: The Killing Joke

I’ve been thinking about fan theories lately. Sometimes they’re a lot of fun, but sometimes they’re just flat out idiotic. And sometimes, as both Greg H. and Jim have observed recently, they’re made up by people who just missed the damn point.

I’ve decided to tackle two fan theories in particular that bug me, one this week and one next. That way, whenever I hear them come up from now on, I can just link to these columns instead of getting into the same damn arguments all over again and driving up my blood pressure. Like a lot of fan theories, these sound really cool when you first hear them, but once you start thinking about them a bit more, you realize that they really don’t make any sense at all.

Which brings me to Alan Moore’s and Brian Bolland’s Batman: The Killing Joke. (Since I’m going to have to discuss the ending to The Killing Joke in detail here, SPOILERS apply.) Namely, the idea that Batman kills the Joker at the end of it.

This theory has been floating around for six years now, and it doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. It started out in an August 2013 episode of Kevin Smith’s Fatman on Batman podcast. Here’s audio of the relevant portion:

In case that YouTube embed isn’t working for some reason, here’s the transcript:

MORRISON: Killing Joke‘s good. I kinda like Killing Joke‘s… Did we talk about this? No one gets the end. ‘Cause Batman kills the Joker.

SMITH: No! All right, we didn’t talk about this.

MORRISON: That’s what I love about it. No one’s noticed in… how many? 30 years on, almost. 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 then 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: Get the fuck out of here!

MORRISON: 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!

SMITH: So for those… Walt Flanagan, my friend Walt Flanagan, he’s like, “I can’t stand the end of that. They’re just laughing.”

MORRISON: No no no. They’re laughing, and Batman reaches out, grabs his neck, and breaks it. And the laughter stops. It actually abruptly stops, which tells you he’s just reached out and killed him. It’s really obvious if you look back at it.

SMITH: So the only thing that’s missing is a “Krik,” or something like that, a sound, a little onomatopoeia…

MORRISON: But that would’ve made it too obvious, wouldn’t it? I’m sure that Alan wanted to make it… This is the last Batman/Joker story, this is the inevitable end, this is the Killing Joke… it even says it in the title.

SMITH: I’ve never seen that! I’ve been reading that book for years, I never saw that!

MORRISON: If you look at it again, it’s the most obvious thing in the world. And then the light switches [off], he just killed him. There’s no chance of him crossing that bridge any more.

SMITH: Oh, that redefines it in such a major way.

MORRISON: And that’s why it’s so great.

SMITH: And it’s so strange, because then… Well, that would make it an Elseworlds book, because he kills the Joker.

MORRISON: Yeah, because he didn’t want to. He’s not… He likes to do this. He’s done it all. He’s giving you the end of the conflict, but at the same time, it’s ambiguous enough that any future story will just be another echo of this.

SMITH: I wonder how many fucking people see that…

MORRISON: Nobody! I’ve never seen people talk about it, and yet it’s so fucking obvious. The only person who’s ever mentioned it is Brian Bolland, who hints it and then leaves it trailing…

SMITH: And he would know.

MORRISON: He would! The Joker reaches out… He wants it! He goes for his neck, and he breaks his neck, and the laughter stops.

SMITH: I wonder if he’s ever said that on a panel. 

MORRISON: No. No one’s ever said, because it has to be ambiguous, that’s what makes it great. And it’s what makes it the ultimate Batman/Joker story.

SMITH: Dude, you’ve third-eyed me and fucking shattered my world. That changes the framework from which I’ve viewed that story forever.

MORRISON: And it makes the whole book so much better. It’s the finale, it’s the end.

SMITH: Alan Moore secretly wrote the last Batman story.

MORRISON: Of course he did. But it did it in such a way that only if you notice, and it’s beautiful.

Why It Makes No Sense: Oooh boy… where to begin? Okay, let’s point out something obvious to start:

1) Grant Morrison had absolutely nothing to do with The Killing Joke.

Grant Morrison Smile
Pictured: A fellow who had nothing to do with The Killing Joke.

It was written by Alan Moore, illustrated by Brian Bolland, lettered by Richard Starkings, colored by John Higgins, and edited by Denny O’Neil (although the story started under the editorial tenure of Len Wein, who infamously said, “Cripple the bitch,” when Moore asked permission to have the Joker shoot Barbara Gordon through the spine). The Killing Joke was published on March 29, 1988, with a May cover date. Animal Man #1, Grant Morrison’s first work for DC, carried a September 1988 cover date. And being in Scotland, I think it’s safe to say that Morrison wasn’t hanging around DC’s New York City offices when Brian Bolland’s pages were coming in.

So even though he was already working in comics over in the UK in the late 80s, Grant Morrison read The Killing Joke the same way that most everyone else did: As a fan. And remember, Alan Moore pretty much hates Grant Morrison, so there’s no way Moore would ever confide the “secret meaning” behind his ending to him. Grant Morrison is in the exact same position as any other fan here. He has no special insight into what Moore and Bolland intended. His opinion on the story has no more validity than anyone else’s.

In other words, fanwank from Grant Morrison is still fanwank.

2) It Makes No Sense Literally.

Let’s review what Batman has been through by the end of The Killing Joke. He’s seen his friend Barbara Gordon get crippled for life, and her father Commissioner Gordon kidnapped, tortured, and traumatized. He’s been hit with acid, he’s narrowly escaped being impaled by spikes, he’s crashed through a funhouse mirror, and he’s been hit in the head with a two-by-four (which breaks). To put it mildly, it’s been a night. And although Batman’s able to overpower the Joker, he’s still so out of it that he’s nearly shot at point blank range. He’s only saved by the fact that the Joker’s out of ammo.Batman Killing Joke Empty GunAnd after that… Batman and the Joker calm down and talk. The Joker even asks him, “Why don’t you kick the hell out of me and get a standing ovation from the public gallery?” The Batman quietly replies, “Because I’m doing this one by the book… and because I don’t want to.” He tries to reason with the Joker, and talk him out of the insane path that they’re both on. Maybe I can help, he says. Maybe we could work together. Maybe I could rehabilitate you. Batman Killing Joke Far Too LateThe Joker hesitates for a moment, genuinely considering the offer. He tells Batman why it’s hopeless the only way he can–with a joke. And Batman understands. And so the two foes share an odd moment of bonding, recognizing their one bit of common ground.Batman Killing Joke Final JokeThis is consistent with the heroic, compassionate Batman Moore has written elsewhere. Remember, Moore didn’t grow up on the Psycho Terrorist Frank Miller Batman we’ve been getting a steady diet of for over 30 years now. Moore was a Silver Age baby, and you can see it all over his Batman work. It’s why Batman calls Robin “chum” and dreams of getting married to Kathy Kane in Superman Annual #11:Superman Annual 11 Think Clean Thoughts It’s why The Killing Joke‘s Batcave contains the Tyrannosaurus Rex, the giant penny, a Whirly-Bat, and Sheldon Moldoff’s portrait of the Bat-Family circa 1962:

Batman Family 1962 Sheldon Moldoff
Never forget that the same story that cripples Barbara Gordon also features cameos from Bat-Mite and Ace the Bat-Hound.

It’s why Professor Night, the Batman expy in Moore’s Supreme, is drawn in a Dick Sprang style: Supreme Professor NightAnd it’s why, when he realizes the depths of their insanity, Moore’s Batman offers compassion to both the Joker in The Killing Joke and Clayface in Batman Annual #11 instead of just beating the hell out of them:

Batman Annual 11 Clayface Let Me HelpThe plot of The Killing Joke doesn’t make any sense if Batman snaps and breaks the Joker’s neck at the end. Why, after everything he’s been through and everything he’s seen his friends go through, would Batman choose to kill the Joker right in front of a bunch of cops, especially after he says, “I’m doing this one by the book”? How is that consistent? How is that intelligent? How is that compassionate? How does that make any sense at all?

3) It Makes No Sense Thematically. 

The Joker of The Killing Joke shoots Barbara Gordon and tortures her father Jim Gordon to prove a point. Namely, that the sanest person in the world is just one bad day away from going stark raving mad. After all, that’s what happened to him. Why should they be any more special?

But the story makes it clear that the Joker’s plan is an utter failure. When Barbara Gordon regains consciousness, her first thought is of her father’s safety. When Batman finds Commissioner Gordon, the man’s seen his daughter shot before his eyes, been tortured for hours, and forced to look at images of his daughter being tortured, but he still has the moral fortitude to tell Batman to bring the Joker in by the book. Clearly, the Gordons are made of sterner stuff than the unnamed comedian who became the Joker.Batman Killing Joke By The BookBatman recognizes this and even taunts the Joker with it, saying, “Incidentally, I spoke to Commissioner Gordon before I came in here. He’s fine. Despite all your sick, vicious little games, he’s as sane as he ever was. So maybe ordinary people don’t always crack. Maybe there isn’t any need to crawl under a rock with all the other slimy things when trouble hits… Maybe it was just you, all the time.” And remember, Batman knows what he’s talking about here. Bruce Wayne experienced his worst day imaginable at age eight when his parents were killed before his eyes, and he used that trauma to become an even better person.Batman Killing Joke Not FunnyLook, The Killing Joke is certainly darker and more violent than most any superhero story that came before it, but it’s still, at its heart, a superhero story. And superhero stories typically contain the villain pulling off one or two big crimes before the hero stops him once and for all. That’s what happens here. The Joker succeeds in crippling Barbara Gordon and torturing her father, but he doesn’t come close to breaking their spirits. The same applies to Batman. If Batman snaps and kills the Joker, even on impulse, that means that Batman broke under pressure. That means that Batman went insane, and that the Joker was right. Why would you ever assume the Joker’s P.O.V. is the one we’re supposed to find correct? Can you honestly imagine DC ever publishing a story where the Joker is right and Batman is wrong?

4) There is Absolutely Nothing In Alan Moore’s Script About It.

This, for me, is the deal breaker. Moore’s entire script for The Killing Joke is freely available online, and Moore doesn’t ever describe Batman killing the Joker in it. Here’s a link to the last page of the script. Pay particular attention to Moore’s description for Panel 3:Batman Killing Joke Heh

“Now just a half figure or head and shoulders shot of the Batman from the front. The absurdity of the situation comes homes to him, and one corner of his mouth twitches upwards. He and The Joker are going to kill each other one day. It’s preordained. They may as well enjoy this one rare moment of contact while it lasts.”

One day. Not today. And Batman is going to do his damnedest to make sure that day never comes.

Here’s the description for Panel 5, where the art shows Batman reaching towards the Joker’s shoulder (not his neck):

“Now we see them full figure. There is a large puddle at their feet. They are now both helpless with laughter and have collapsed forward onto each other, both ragged and bloody, each holding the other up as they stand there clinging together in the rain. The white and blue lights that approach them from the rainy darkness beyond are bigger now, and there is a small thin line of red sound effect lettering widening right across the panel from left to right as their sirens become audible.”

Moore describes Batman and the Joker as being ragged and bloody, and so exhausted that they’re holding each other up, yet Batman somehow has the strength to break the Joker’s neck? I don’t buy it.

And before you say something like, “Oh, but Moore just did that to keep it secret!” or “He was was just trying to fool DC!” you need to remember two things:

1) Alan Moore is notorious for his massively detailed scripts. His script for the 46-page The Killing Joke runs 128 pages. If there’s something that he wanted in the story, something that the entire ending turns upon, even something that was meant to be ambiguous to the reader, you can be damn sure that he would’ve have written it in there.

2) Comic book scripts are not meant for the general public. They’re meant for the people working on the comic. The artist, the letterer, the colorist, and the editor. They’re the blueprint for the entire team to follow. There’s no point in hiding plot points that your colleagues need to know to do their jobs. A script will say something like: “By the way, Steve, make sure to draw that anvil paperweight on the desk on Page 9, because we’re going to reveal that that’s the murder weapon on Page 21.” If you’re oblique in your script, you run the risk of being misunderstood by your artist and having them draw something incorrectly. Do you really think that someone as detail-conscious as Alan Moore would take that chance? Ever?

5) Brian Bolland Was Joking.

As Morrison said above, the only person who hinted at the “Batman kills the Joker” ending was the book’s artist, Brian Bolland. In his afterword to the 2008 Deluxe Edition of The Killing Joke, Bolland wrote:

“Speaking of which, it’s time I revealed what really happened at the end of THE KILLING JOKE: as our protagonists stood there in the rain laughing at the final joke, the police lights reflecting in the pools of filthy water underfoot, the Batman’s hand reached out and…..”

Well, gee, that sure reads like there was something more going on in that last page. Maybe Morrison was right after all?

But hang on. Let’s look back at how Bolland began his afterword:

“I’ve been asked to write the ‘afterword’ to this book — or should that be the ‘in between’? I’m told by my editor Bob Harras that there’s room for up to 800 words. If I go on longer we have to start dropping pages of art and we wouldn’t want that, would we? So, reader, if I should stop in mid-sentence it’s because I’ve run out of space.”

Bolland was setting up a joke, people. He teases that he’s going to run out of space, gears up to reveal something MAJOR at the end, and then whoops, sorry, out of space. Too bad. And if you have any doubts that he’s simply having a laugh at our expense, Bolland writes in another tease halfway through, just to be sure we get it:

“People seemed to find the last page of the story ambiguous, so before I conclude this text, remind me to reveal what actually happened.”

Bolland started out by promising to tell us what was really going on, and then he cut his afterword short, leaving us all even less sure than when we started. You realize what he did, don’t you?

Bolland turned his light off when we were halfway across.Batman Killing Joke Final PageFor me, the real ambiguity of the ending isn’t in the question of Batman murdering the Joker, it’s that we see the Joker reaching his hand out to Batman. He doesn’t seem to have the needle that he used to kill the owner of the carnival at the beginning of the book. Does he want to shake Batman’s hand as a peace offering? Does he want to try to accept Batman’s help to get better? Does Batman offer his own hand in return or does he just slap a pair of handcuffs on him? Who knows?

But there’s one thing I’m certain of: Grant Morrison is wrong. Batman doesn’t kill the Joker at the end of The Killing Joke.

Next Week: Why the “James Bond is just a codename” theory is bullshit.

26 Comments

  1. And minutes after I posted a link to this column over on the BACK ISSUE Facebook page, one commenter, Scot Foley, brought it to my attention that Alan Moore denied the “Batman kills the Joker” interpretation in a Good Reads Q&A from October 30, 2015. Here’s the relevant portion:

    Reader: For YEARS we have been left to wonder, due to the wonderful ambiguity of the sound effects, shadowplay, and action happening off-scene in The Killing Joke. what the ending really means and if Batman actually kills the Joker. Now they are making a movie. If you are directly involved, will you finally answer the question?

    Moore: As with all of the work which I do not own, I’m afraid that I have no interest in either the original book, or in the apparently forthcoming cartoon version which I heard about a week or two ago. I have asked for my name to be removed from it, and for any monies accruing from it to be sent to the artist, which is my standard position with all of this…material. Actually, with The Killing Joke, I have never really liked it much as a work – although I of course remember Brian Bolland’s art as being absolutely beautiful – simply because I thought it was far too violent and sexualised a treatment for a simplistic comic book character like Batman and a regrettable misstep on my part. So, Pradeep, I have no interest in Batman, and thus any influence I may have had upon current portrayals of the character is pretty much lost on me. And David, for the record, my intention at the end of that book was to have the two characters simply experiencing a brief moment of lucidity in their ongoing very weird and probably fatal relationship with each other, reaching a moment where they both perceive the hell that they are in, and can only laugh at their preposterous situation. A similar chuckle is shared by the doomed couple at the end of the remarkable Jim Thompson’s original novel, The Getaway.

    You can find the entire Q&A here: https://www.goodreads.com/author/3961.Alan_Moore/questions

  2. humanbelly

    I’d honestly never caught this theory– as I’ve been out of the deeper-comic-lore discussion circles for a few years. Well, and tbh, I really don’t care for The Killing Joke much at all. I read it the once. . . and it left me with a very bad taste in my mouth. The whole shared-laugh sequence at the end seems tremendously forced to me, in spite of the great textual effort being made to justify it and lend it inevitability. It’s— unbelievable. And after the horrors the issue has given us prior to that moment (as well as the Joker’s entire psychopathic/sociopathic and- I believe, at that point?- mass-murdering history. . . it struck me as borderline inappropriate.

    ALL THAT ASIDE, though— you TOTALLY make your case, Mr Trumbull, yep. Heck, I didn’t need anything more than your posting of Bolland’s amusing string-’em-along commentary gag. Good grief– it’s an OBVIOUS gag, which is exactly what makes it fun-! I have no idea how any discerning fan could read that and immediately jump to a “See? See?? PROOF!!!!!” conclusion— c’mon, fansters, spend those intellectual energies in a more productive fashion, can’tcha?

    But the rest of your arguments are equally well thought out, clear, and (for me) completely convincing. Nicely done.

    Hmm– from what I remember of Alan Moore’s demeanor, he’s likely not one to give a very helpful response if asked about this directly, correct?

    HB

    1. humanbelly

      Replying to my own reply–ha!
      I didn’t catch the added Alan Moore interview excerpt til just now— and was pleasantly surprised that he at least gave a very clear, definitive answer which should unquestionably lay such a silly fanspiracy to rest, yep? He’s still his characteristically grouchy, sorta over-ALL-of-it self. . . but big further kudos for his handing MUCH-deserved praise over to Mr Bolland for his superb artistic efforts on the book. They are incredibly good, which I meant to mention meself. . .

      HB

  3. Edo Bosnar

    I thought Morrison’s ‘theory’ (which, yes, I heard on Kevin Smith’s show* a few years ago) was b.s. from the start. I never bought it based on my own readings of Killing Joke, but I never thought it out as well as you did – you just articulated so well how wrong the theory is just based on the story alone, without any of the subsequent input from Moore or Bolland. So thank you for an exemplary post.

    * For a few weeks about 4-5 years ago, I was going through Smith’s podcast archive to listen to his interviews with creators that interested me – Morrison is generally a creator I don’t find very interesting, but I listened to that one because it’s been so hyped due to his opinion on the Killing Joke ending.
    Otherwise, Smith is not a good interviewer with some of these creators; he’s often too starstruck and lets some of them (*cough* Neal Adams *cough*) toot their own horns way too much. The one with Denny O’Neil was pretty good, though.

  4. I have to agree that the case you’ve laid out makes sense and that it’s not a plausible reading at all. I had wondered when I first heard the theory how well it might hold up, but you’ve shown why it doesn’t work, even if you do a reading of the book and don’t worry about authorial intent — it doesn’t work.

    And looking at those last panels, I finally realize what’s going on. It’s not that the laughter stops because the Joker is dead, it’s because the last three panels are “shutting down” the stage. First the laughter stops, then the siren, then the light, and if I recall correctly, the endpage of the book is either rain or black. Moore and Bolland are turning off the lights and cleaning up the stage that they’ve set up, because the play is over.

    1. The episode of Smith’s podcast where he and Paul Dini brainstorm a Young Bruce Wayne TV series YEARS before GOTHAM was a thing is pretty damn great. It was a cool sounding show, too.

      Travis, I love your interpretation of the players shutting down the stage at the end of TKJ. That nails it.

  5. Le Messor

    I’ve run across that theory before, too. I’ve never believed it.
    One thing people forget when they’re shouting their ‘Batman should kill!’ gospel to the world is that, in his world, he’s the cop. He’s not the judge, he’s not the jury, and he’s certainly not the executioner. He’s the cop.
    Real world cops don’t keep criminals locked in their houses; fantasy cops shouldn’t mete out the punishment either.

    On the very bottom image; I’ve never noticed it before, but in the middle of the top panel, Batman looks like a Tsunami. Possibly an echo of Hokusai’s wave.

    “I can just link to these columns instead of getting into the same damn arguments all over again and driving up my blood pressure.”
    Okay, but chill. This is one of those problems that can be solved by not caring.

    “SMITH: So the only thing that’s missing is a “Krik,” or something like that, a sound, a little onomatopoeia…”
    As Gwen might say, “Oh, snap!”

    “Can you honestly imagine DC ever publishing a story where the Joker is right and Batman is wrong?”
    These days?
    Yes, I totally can.

    1. Scott Snyder doesn’t make the Joker “right” but he does seem to think the Joker knows Bruce better than Bruce knows Bruce.
      While I agree with you Batman shouldn’t kill, I also think he doesn’t want to. As Superman said in Kingdom Come, Bruce Wayne doesn’t want anyone else to die. Which is why his pitch to the Joker to call an end to things always worked for me (even if not everything in the story did). Though even when it came out there were angry complaints from fans that the Batman is such a seething mass of hate and rage that he would never say something like that.

      1. Well, as we can see, Moore was still using sound effects in this book (hence the siren and laughter that we’re talking about), so that actually is an interesting point that Smith brought up. It actually works against the Morrison argument to a degree, but as they mention, it would be too obvious to have a broken neck noise.

        If that was the intent, of course.

        As to V and Watchmen, iirc, not using sound effects in V was a conscious decision to be more cinematic, especially given David Lloyd’s style. I believe Moore then decided to carry it over to Watchmen since it was intended as not just a superhero comic.

        So he either used them here consciously because it’s still a superhero book (which strengthens all your arguments, John), or Bolland took even longer drawing the book than we all realized 😉

        1. Well, it was kind of to frame Batman in the end, right? To make it look like he’s so nuts that he’d kill the Joker finally, but in DKR, too, Batman’s code against killing is so strong he still can’t do it. Just like here, his code is against killing even the worst criminals.

          But it raises an interesting point — would Moore ape Miller and have the “secret ending” of his book about people not being driven evil by one bad day be the snapping of Joker’s neck, when even his huge killing spree in DKR couldn’t get him to do it? (answer, of course: no.)

          And I’m also reminded of the story of when Miller and Moore met at a con and were one-upping each other with story ideas. Oh man, to have been a fly on that wall!

  6. Jeff Nettleton

    The link brings to mind something I saw in Amazing Heroes, late 80s or dawn of the 90s. Morrison is quoted about Moore and brings up Robert Mayer’s Superfolks and pretty much implies that Moore plagiarized it for a lot of his work. That set me to trying to find it and read it (which took a few years; then a couple of years later, it was reprinted). There is nothing outright swiped from it but there are similarities in a couple of things. The villain of the novel being an imp that was a nuisance and becomes more malevolent informs Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?; but, in a totally different manner. The novel’s villain uses the long game, while Mxy hits hard, suddenly. Then, there was Mary Mantra and Captain Mantra, conceiving the Demoniac, and an interpretation of Billy Batson, in the Twilight proposal. Except, again, only that those characters are used and there is an illicit element to it. So, Morrison was blowing the similarities out of proportion.

    Years later, I see Michael moorcock call Morrison an outright thief, over tings in his work, seemingly taken from Moorcock’s. There are arguments that Moorcock is, perhaps, overstating his case. However, one thing is clear, Morrison has borrowed a ton of Moorcock’s themes and character archetypes. You can spot the Moorcock influences all over Morrison’s work. So, you end up with a very dark pot calling a kettle ebon.

    Personally, I enjoy Moore’s work to a far greater degree, especially his more adventure-oriented material, compared to Morrison’s. Morrison is very hit and miss for me, whereas Moore is usually hit. I like All-Star Superman; but, more because it reads like Elliot Maggin Superman, to me. I liked Zenith more in the early volumes, where it is very Moore and less when it goes multiverse and tries to be Moorcock and Burroughs (William). I’m not big on esoteric stories. I love the ABC books, except Promethea, which I admit I’ve never really cracked. I started it, once, and didn’t get far. Love LOEG, except hated the latter part of Black Dossier, when they are travelling to weird dream worlds or whatever. Did I mention about me and esoterica?

    I’ve always felt that both play to their audience. Some of Moore’s interviews play up the curmudgeon more and some play up the whole snake god business. Morrison talks about drug fueled spell rituals and cross-dressing personas for rituals and I get the impression he is talking out of another orifice to see if he can get nonsense printed and sound like a crazy rock star. This strikes me of that impression.

    Both great writers; but, both have their quirks.

      1. I thought I’d heard that Morrison has since admitted that a lot of the shit he’d talk back in the day was deliberate bear-poking to get press, but I could be wrong.

        What is worse is that he and Millar apparently were helped out early on by Alan Grant (I think via 2000AD), and both of them kind of shit on Alan Grant in the press and never apologized, which is a dick move. I can’t remember where I’ve read this stuff, though.

  7. Fan Theories can be a fun exercise but it’s usually ludicrous to see it as anything more than that. At best they are just a way of explaining what is otherwise contradictory (like Doctor Who’s Season 6b theory being used to explain why the 2nd Doctor and Jamie look so much older when they came back for encore performances).

    Can you imagine if Killing Joke had actually ended by explicitly showing what Morrison suggests is going on? Suddenly, on the last page, without warning, Batman breaks the Joker’s neck…and the book just abruptly ends without any follow up. The whole notion is ludicrous. Even if it somehow got printed, it’d have been laughed out of court, so to speak. Or at least, I hope it would be, for being jarring, inconsistent, needlessly shocking, and just plain dumb in its execution (even if one thought the concept was cool)

  8. Louis Bright-Raven

    ““Can you honestly imagine DC ever publishing a story where the Joker is right and Batman is wrong?”

    These days?

    Yes, I totally can.”

    I don’t know for certain, as I borrowed it in trade months ago and it wasn’t a particularly memorable story for me, but isn’t that sort of what Sean Murphy just did in WHITE KNIGHT?

  9. To me, just hearing the words “fan theory” is a red flag indicating I’m about to hear some trite, badly-contrived, heavily-chiché-ridden exercise intended to make the fictional world in question smaller, more self-referential, and pointlessly interconnected by means of the most dubious and trivial details. Yawn.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.