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PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2007 6:49 pm 
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After reading Watchmen I decided to check out some of Alan Moore's other superhero works and after a trip to my local comic book store I found the great compilation book "DC Universe: The Stories of Alan Moore".

It compiles every "individual" story written by Alan Moore (as opposed to full series like Swamp Thing etc) and includes some well-loved Superman classics like "Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow" and the Batman one-off "The Killing Joke".

"The Killing Joke" is essentially the origin story of The Joker and shows how he turned from a down-on-his-luck stand-up comedian to the insane, deformed Clown Prince of Crime. Naturally with an Alan Moore twist on things...

This twist being - Joker is the main part and Batman a curious side-note. Sure it has a great Batman vs Joker "Pow" "Zap" punch-up in the third act, but by the end you actually feel sorry for The Joker and understand a little more about his way of thinking...

...that the world is one big joke.

"When I saw what a black, awful joke the world was, I went crazy as a coot! I admit it! ... Do you know how many times we've come close to World War Three over a flock of geese on a computer screen? ... It's all a joke! Everything anyone ever valued or struggled for - it's all a monstrous, demented gag! So why can't you see the funny side?"

When I read this I instantly thought back to Edward Blake's last speech to Molloch before he was trown through the window.

Ironically enough The Joker was thrown through a plate-glass mirror by Batman just four panels later!

The book ends with Batman and Joker agreeing to work out their differences before they both kill each other and even sharing a friendly joke and (through the medium of shadows) a suggested embrace.

"The Killing Joke" was finally published in 1988 after a very long production but greatly echoes some of the key themes Watchmen. I really recommend you all try and find this because it has been used as inspiration for the new "Dark Knight" movie - so read it before you see it!!

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2007 11:46 pm 
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Magic M wrote:
The book ends with Batman and Joker agreeing to work out their differences before they both kill each other and even sharing a friendly joke and (through the medium of shadows) a suggested embrace.



They never do work out their differences, though. "No, I'm sorry but it's far too late for that.", the Joker muses. There is, however, an uneasy sense of familiarity for the two of them in the situation. There is an understanding between the two that this conflict between them will never end . Serious trust issues...?

I like the comparison in "philosophies" between the Comedian and the Joker. Must be a favorite topic of Moore's.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2007 4:35 am 
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Interesting comparison here. What about this?

Rorschach says he understands/respects the Comedian to a degree (sometime during his interviews with Malcolm).
Rorschach (I'm fairly sure) was said to be a Batman parallel by Moore (who was using it as a statement that anyone who underwent that kind of trauma would become unstable).
Batman and the Joker are consistently shown as mirror images of each other; Batman reacted to a bad past by turning to almost dangerously morally guided vigilantism, while the Joker reacts to a usually mysterious (but, as shown [maybe?] in TKJ to be bad) past by becoming a sociopathic mass murderer. The same is also true of Rorschach and the Comedian, respectively.
In TKJ, of course, they come to a mutual understanding and coexistence, though disagreeing over their methods.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2007 10:52 am 
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The Veidt Method wrote:
Batman reacted to a bad past by turning to almost dangerously morally guided vigilantism, while the Joker reacts to a usually mysterious (but, as shown [maybe?] in TKJ to be bad) past by becoming a sociopathic mass murderer. The same is also true of Rorschach and the Comedian, respectively.


:? "....sociopathic mass murderer." Um.... I have to differ in your choice of all three words here.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2007 5:11 pm 
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JDsgirlBev wrote:
:? "....sociopathic mass murderer." Um.... I have to differ in your choice of all three words here.



How so, JD? The Joker has killed more than his fair share of innocents in his criminal career.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2007 6:21 pm 
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I can see the similarity between the Comedian and the Joker. They both serve as reflections of the murder and mayhem and chaos of the world. They see it all as one big joke, and -- to paraphrase the Comedian -- they're both just playing along with the gag.

The key difference is that the Joker has an agenda. He's always out to prove a point or accomplish something. The Comedian, on the other hand, seems more apathetic. Uncle Sam tells him to do something, so he does it in a way that befits the messed-up mentality of the West and gets the heck out of there. He's not out to prove a point, he just wants to live what he considers to be the American Dream.

As for Rorschach, it's already been discussed how crazy you'd have to be to run around beating up criminals while wearing a dress on your head. I also think that Rorschach is like Batman because they are both overcome by their death wishes. They are regular human beings who are not afraid of death or injury and that lack of fear is what leads them to become so powerful.

But there's a key difference between Rorschach and Batman: Rorschach actually knows society's dark underbelly.

I believe Carmine Falcone of Batman Begins put it best: "You think because your mommy and your daddy got shot that you know the dark side of life, but you don't. You've never tasted desperate! You're Bruce Wayne, the prince of Gotham, you'd have to go a thousand miles to find someone who didn't know your name!"

Wayne grew up in a life of opulence, sleeping in his mansion, raised by his butler and went on to fight crime using the fanciest gadgets money could buy. Rorschach grew up in poverty, lived in government care after being beaten by his slut mom and went on to fight crime with only his intellect, his mask and his bare hands. Wayne is motivated by one bad day during his childhood. Rorschach is motivated by a lifetime of poverty and condescension.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2008 12:47 am 
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ManOWar wrote:
JDsgirlBev wrote:
:? "....sociopathic mass murderer." Um.... I have to differ in your choice of all three words here.



How so, JD? The Joker has killed more than his fair share of innocents in his criminal career.


:) What I meant was I don't think BLAKE was a sociopath or a mass murderer. I'm not much of a Batman fan so I can't make a real judgment on the Joker. The only Batman I've seen was the TV show with Adam West, and a few episodes of the cartoon version.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2008 7:40 am 
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Magic M wrote:
It compiles every "individual" story written by Alan Moore

:D It does not even come close. Do you have any idea how *many* stories Alan Moore wrote? Here is a list: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_published_material_by_Alan_Moore

ManOWar wrote:
I like the comparison in "philosophies" between the Comedian and the Joker. Must be a favorite topic of Moore's.

That is what I was talking about here:
http://www.watchmencomicmovie.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=227&st=0&sk=t&sd=a&start=180
I would not go that far about the Batman-Rorschach anlogy though...in Watchmen all the masked vigilants are derivatives of Batman, except Manhatten. E.g. Dan is modeled on the Blue Beetle II, who himself was a humorous Batman copy. He got the analogues of the Batcave, Batmobil etc. And Batman was not a particularly dark character before Watchmen was written, the Dark Knight Returns appeared later. BTW the Joker started killing people not earlier than 1973, except in the earliest issues in the 40s.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2008 9:18 am 
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Quote:
It does not even come close. Do you have any idea how *many* stories Alan Moore wrote?


Every idividual story IN THE DC UNIVERSE!! Hence the title of the compilation!! I know he worked for 2000AD et al - but I was focussing on DC "mainstream" side of things.

Once I've read it fully I will critique Moore and Gibbons's "For He Who Has Everything" Superman story which opens with an interesting juxtaposition. If Kal-El is super on Earth - would he be just be an ordinary Joe on Krypton?

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2008 10:14 am 
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holtor wrote:
BTW the Joker started killing people not earlier than 1973, except in the earliest issues in the 40s.


The Joker of the 40's was a nasty piece of work.

As a result of the nefarious comics code in force starting in the early 50's, he was softened up to conform. By the early 70's publishers were a little more loose in their interpretation of the code, allowing violence and more adult themes to enter the fray causing comics to, if not grow up somewhat, at least regain some of the grittiness that had existed in the genre prior to the code's existence.

The comparison between the Joker and the Comedian is a valid one. (BTW I always thought the yellow coveralls in the 40's incarnation of Blake looked a bit like a clown suit :shock: ) Both see existence as a cruel, meaningless joke. Both kill for the thrill. While I agree Eddie isn't a total sociopath, he has managed to charm his way into his dream gig where he can continue to deliver the punchline with official sanction.

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 Post subject: Knock knock?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2008 10:28 am 
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holtor wrote:
I would not go that far about the Batman-Rorschach anlogy though...in Watchmen all the masked vigilants are derivatives of Batman, except Manhatten.


I understand how a comic fan might draw that initial reaction, but... No. That's like saying that Green Arrow, Jon Sable, Rhett Butler, and Forrest Gump are all derivative of Batman because they don't have superpowers. Which would mean that Batman is derivative of the Phantom actually.

But if you examine Batman and Watchmen, you discover something very interesting. That the partnership of Nite Owl and Rorschach is very PURPOSEFULLY filled with the hallmarks of the Batman character. You see that these two men share the Batman mythos while also being unique and layered with more conflict and humanity.

Batman is a rich techno-geek who is obsessed with fighting crime. Dan has the rich techno-geek part covered. Walter has the obsession covered. Then Moore gets into each one of those traits and explores it in a way that Batman comics never did because having both of those traits protects Bruce Wayne from the stark realities of each.

For Dan, being a techno-geek meant the wherewithall to bring a million dollars worth of hardware to bear on purse snatchers and pimps. But he lacked the obsession necessary to see it all through. He jumped in when it was a trend... as a way to get his kicks anonymously. The cowl and goggles allowed him to overcome painful shyness and get out there and be somebody special. He did it to build his ego and sense of potency. His masculinity is tied to that cowl. He did not act out of a desire to help others.

But when the Keene Act was passed, and the trend was dead, he lacked the obsession necessary to keep going. So he retired to a life of impotence.

Walter, on the other hand, has no ego to overcome or build up. At least not a conventional ego. He couldn't care less if he never got an erection again. Since his only sexual expression is in dreams about his prostitute mother, he prefers to avoid the subject. He was not born into wealth so he has no means by which to pursue his obsession. But obsession doesn't care about means, so he pursues it anyway as best he can. And illustrates exactly what Bruce Wayne would have been had he been born poor rather than rich.

Which means this... we forgive Batman his sick sadistic obsession because he pursues it with the flair of the wealthy. Poor people are crazy/sick. Rich people are eccentric.

Also, Walter's story shows us the daily trauma that produces "crazy" as opposed to the "one bad day" theory, which typically does not. And we all know good and well that Bruce Wayne had to be one screwed up kid when his parents were killed for that to turn him toward a life of vigilantism.

But Laurie is not deriviative of Batman and neither are Comedian (who, while subbing for Peacemaker, is basically Nick Fury meets Captain America... with overtones of the Joker). The original Nite Owl is 60s Batman meets the Phantom). Hooded Justice is the KKK... which is where the tradition of masked vigilantism originated in the U.S. and serves to ask "is the JLA or the Avengers or the FF, etc... just a lynch mob?

holtor wrote:
And Batman was not a particularly dark character before Watchmen was written, the Dark Knight Returns appeared later. BTW the Joker started killing people not earlier than 1973, except in the earliest issues in the 40s.


Batman was originally a very dark character who carried a gun and killed people. As did the Joker. Batman was turned into the stupid, cheesy, gun-hating pedophile we loathe when Robin was introduced... very early on... and it just got worse until the tv show completely stripped the character of anything interesting.

But it seems silly to say that Batman and the Joker weren't dark until Watchmen... except when they first appeared. Or to say that the Joker never killed anyone earlier than 1973... except in the first story he appeared in. If you judged people in real life by these standards, you'd have to say, "y'know, you can't call this guy a killer because he has gone years without killing anyone... as long as you don't count the fact that he shot up a mall killing 30 a decade ago... but not lately... until now, after listening to rap music. So it's obvious where he got it from."

And, correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems to me that The Dark Knight came out the same year as Watchmen, which means that Miller was working on it while Moore was working on Watchmen... rather than being influenced by it later.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2008 9:20 am 
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Miller's Dark Knight came out in four issues during the first half of 1986, two months before Watchmen's monthly issues were first published.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2008 1:53 pm 
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Hi Vynson! Long time since I've seen you around. Good to see you again! :)

That was quite an interesting post about Batman/ Rorschach and the Joker/the Comedian.
Does anyone remember The Shadow...not the Alex Baldwin movie (which, if you wanna talk about CHEESE... :o ) but the character that was originated back in the 30's? I don't know the character well, he fits into the tradition of 'masked' crime fighters who weren't boy scouts or superheroes and I think I read that he influenced Moore?? Could someone comment perhaps?


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2008 3:01 pm 
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Close, but no cigar!

Rorschach was based on the Charlton Comics character "The Question" (and to a lesser extent Mr A) who's look was almost identical to him, just without the blobs on his mask.

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He's a fairly prolific character and you'll find the ful 411 here...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Question_%28comics%29

The crime-fighting detective-hero character mould was can also seen in "The Spirit" comics.

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Spirit

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 Post subject: Who knows?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2008 12:55 am 
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Yes, I remember the Shadow. I've read dozens of the pulps when they were reprinted into paperback form. Loved them. And it would be difficult to deny the influence of Lamont Cranston on today's costumed adventurers. Certainly no one is denying that the Question (and Mr. A) are the primary sources of inspiration for Rorschach, but there are others... for example, Howard Roark. Certainly, I am not alone in observing that Alan Moore made his Sociopathic hero the spitting image of Ayn Rand's architect? Rand, of course, provided Ditko's inspiration for Mr. A.

As for the Alec Baldwin movie... I thought he was perfectly cast and I liked a lot of the movie, but the cheese weighed too heavy and, unfortunately, the film just didn't believe in itself. I have to say that this is about par for a David Koepp screenplay, unfortunately.


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