Alan Moore has never been shy about the fact that his classic (and still controversial) Batman story The Killing Joke wasn’t meant to be canon. But just how not-canon was it supposed to be? According to Grant Morrison, Batman kills the Joker. Which is not exactly something that would happen in continuity.
Morrison was speaking with Kevin Smith on Smith’s podcast when he laid out the ending as Moore intended.
“No one gets the end, because 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 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.”
Here, listen for yourself.
Hell, if you look at the last three panels there’s a line between them and then there isn’t. Given the very precise notes Moore is known to give his artists, Brian Bolland’s image of the line separating Batman and the Joker disappearing is surely a significant one.
Not that this particularly changes anything. Despite Moore not wanting the book to be in continuity, DC has always considered it be so. For the New 52 reboot the kept parts of the story and jettisoned others. And since when has DC cared about Alan Moore wanted? I’m sure they’ll ignore this.
Besides, is it even really what Moore and Bolland were going for? Or were they playing with ambiguity? (see also: the final shot of Inception) We don’t know if this is just Grant Morrison being Grant Morrison.
What do think? Can you not see The Killing Joke the same way again? Does this ending fundamentally break Batman or does the Joker deserve to die?