Monday, 7 April 2008

Who'd Like A Cocktail? #18

While there were several contenders this week - in particular Blue Beetle #25 from the week before which I really, really wanted to post about because it was so good but couldn't get around to - which included the laugh out loud funny The Boys #17, the wonderfully shaping up Project Superpowers #2 and the gorgeous The Dark Tower: The Long Road Home #2, it was a twenty year old book that stole my heart over the weekend.

Batman: The Killing Joke has been written about by so many other people that it almost seems redundant to talk about the story. I know that Alan Moore isn't particularly enamoured of the story as he thinks it says nothing about the human condition - I read an interview with him where The Killing Joke was mentioned and just remember his reply, even if I can't lay my hands on the interview right now.

So while I'm not going to labour the point about this - Moore's own words notwithstanding - being a fantastic story, the thing that made me choose this was the recolouring by Brian Bolland.

It is, quite simply, gorgeous. If you have a copy of the original (and if you don't, why the hell not?) it's worth flicking through them side by side just to really appreciate the difference.

While Bolland himself thanks original colourist John Higgins for stepping in when the original was published back in the late 80's, he says in the afterword that Higgins's work "turned out to be startlingly at odds with what [Bolland] had in mind" and comparing them you can see what he means.

Take the single panel that I've chosen to illustrate this: gone is the all over red/orange wash from the original, replaced instead with more traditional colours. Batman's cape, cowl and gloves are blue/black; his suit is grey; the utility belt is a muted yellow.

The only real change throughout the book - though there are many subtle ones - is the yellow circular background to the bat symbol on his chest. Not so much altered as removed entirely, it seems even costumes aren't safe from the occasional ret-con.

As to the portrayal of the Joker himself, he too benefits from the recolouring, not only with the vivid red and green of his lips and hair respectively, but also the flashbacks to his possible origin. Again, the all over wash colouring by Higgins has been replaced, leaving a sepia/grey-tone to everything with the exception of individual items, most notably the Red Hood mask, which stand out in splashes of colour.

Maybe this book doesn't say much about the human condition but, for many people myself included, it remains a favourite. Even if you do own a copy of Batman: The Killing Joke, I recommend you splash out those few extra pounds, dollars or whatever and treat yourself to the Deluxe edition.

It's a thing of beauty, my friends.

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