Suggested Further Reading (Dark Knight Edition)

by Alan Rapp on July 16, 2008

in Comics, Theme Week

With The Dark Knight hitting theaters this Friday this seemed like a good chance to give you Bat-fans a few selections of graphic novels which tie-into the characters and themes of the new movie.  For the first movie we gave you stories of Batman’s orgin, tales of Ra’s al Ghul and the Scarecrow.  This time we focus on the Joker and the origins of Two-Face.

Batman: The Killing Joke Our first entry is the one-shot from Alan Moore back in 1988.  In Moore’s tale the Joker attempts to drive Commissioner Gordon insane.  The villain shoots Barbara Gordon, crippling her, and imprisons the Commisioner naked in a cage forcing him to watch pictures of his daughter naked and bleeding.  Batman shows up to save the day, and, in one of the most memorable endings to any Joker story, the two share a joke.  The story also includes an extended flashback sequence retelling the origin of the Joker.  Although originally entended as a stand alone issue the tale quickly became canon due to its popularity, which led to the reinvention of Barbara Gordon into Oracle.  Both Tim Burton (for 1989’s Batman) and Christopher Nolan admit the book’s influence in their movie versions of the character.  It has been reprinted several times including in DC Universe: The Stories of Alan Moore, and most recently in a new special edition hardcover.  Download a sneak peek. [$17.99]
The Joker: The Greatest Stories Ever Told This collection of Joker tales has been re-released and updated several times since it was first released 20 years ago.  The latest version includes a few more modern Joker tales mixed in collected from Batman issues #1 (the character’s first appearance), 66, 73, 110, 321, and 613, Detective Comics issues #332, 475, 613, Batman: Black and White Vol . 2, Batman: The Long Halloween issue #4 and more.  Sadly the newer version removes some of the classic tales including “The Man Behind the Red Hood” (the first telling of the origin of the Joker) and “The Joker’s Five-Way Revenge (from the Bat-tastic team of O’Neil and Adams), in order to make room for newer stories.  Still, it’s a nice starting point for readers or those curious about how the character has changed over the years. [$19.99]
Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth From Grant Morrison and Dan McKean this 1989 graphic novel tells a history of the insane asylum along with a tale of Batman putting down an uprising by the current patients who have taken hostages.  A myriad of Bat-villains appear over the course of the book including both the Joker and Two-Face.  Batman’s quest to bring the situation to a close leads him to the current administrator who has orchestrated the events and, apparently, lost his mind as well.  McKean’s art gives the book a harsh yet dreamlike quality which more closely resembles Neil Gaiman’s Sandman than other Bat-books.  The 15th-Anniversary Edition is still available in trade paperback.  Download a free sneak peek. [$17.99]
Batman: The Long Halloween Another important cornerstone of Nolan’s current Bat-films comes from this collected mini-series from Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale.  Set early in Batman’s career the series includes several Bat-villains (which raises the question how early can it be set, but I digress), the Gotham mob, a mysterious new Holiday killer, and the transformation of District Attorney Harvey Dent into Two-Face.  Although I, personally, prefer the follow-up Dark Victory, there’s much here worth recommending.  Check out a free sneak peek. [$19.99]

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