I'm a well read grad student who's bluntly honest about all things, although I try to be most honest about myself.
The Joker believes that one bad day is what separates him - and even Batman, who he argues is slightly off as well - from the rest of the world. Well, just to prove his point, he's going to give Commissioner Gordon the day from hell and see how he comes out.
The concept may sound simple, but there's a lot here: the conversation Batman has at the beginning comes round full circle when he has to have it again. There's a lot to the way that Joker shows his twisted grasp of reality, or how he's so chillingly cruel. There's more to this than a simple one or two lines to explain the plot.
It startled me with how much was told in this slim volume, it startled me with it's ugliness and how it showed one doesn't have to break and bend when things go south. It's all about humanity, and we have both the best and worst on display here for comparison. (And, no, I'm not talking Batman. It's Gordon who is the best of the best here for me, the true spotlight, the true hero, in that he takes everything Joker has to throw at him and retains his morals and dignity despite the harrowing situations that could have broken his spirit.)
One half-star off for the Higgins coloring edition. I don't think I've seen Bolland's coloring, but I can see why he was so unhappy with this: it's a bit too garish and showy. Dark, and more subtle colors, would have suited this story far, far better. And yes, I was younger, and I read this as part of a massive reading about characters who were mad for my college thesis. I got this used, unaware that there was another, superior edition. Or maybe there wasn't at the time that I got it. Regardless, I have the inferior edition. It doesn't make much an impact on the brilliant writing, and the art is just as genius. It's just, yeah, honestly, I don't feel like this is a five star read given the colors and me being aware of it, and moaning about it to myself this time.
Spoilers, so page break, because the ending always confuses me.
First spoiler: isn't calling Batman Bruce in the hospital risking his alter ego?
Also, I get it on some level: there's nothing for Batman to do at the end but laugh. But in the pit of my stomach, it's always felt like a betrayal. How can he sit there and laugh after everything he's been through? If you're going to make a case for him being crazy, this has always felt more off than the 'flying rat' suit he puts on. It feels like more than that: like a punch in the gut, and while I get over my disgust for him, I feel it. I'm not knocking off stars, because I've never been sure if Moore considered the possibility that someone might find that simple act of laughter repulsive. But I do.
Whether or not he intended it, he made me super protective of Gordon, a character I hadn't been emotionally invested in, so much so that I'll turn on Batman, merely for laughing. If anything, I consider this quite a feat, and proof of how much this short story emotionally resonates with me.
But I've always been uncomfortable with this ending, and slightly ashamed of my reaction. Does anyone else have this? (Rhetorical question, it's just what I ask myself.) If not, is there something wrong with me for turning so quickly on the 'hero'? Ah, well, either way, this is... satisfying? More so for making me this uncomfortable. It means that this is asking some deep questions and delving into places where there are no easy answers. It makes me think.