As it said in the title, I purchased The Killing Joke prose adaptation off of Amazon. Now, some backstory is needed; I heard it was bad. In fact, I heard it was TERRIBLE. But that’s the thing; I wanted to see for myself, and offer an honest review of its 300+ pages here. And what was the result? Did it plunge to the depths people said it would? Yes. Most assuredly. THE GOOD: About 130 pages cover the actual story of TKJ, and thanks to the co-authors’ past as noir writers? It shines. The psychological motivations behind the characters, in both the filler (oh, we’ll get to THAT) and the main REASON YOU CAME HERE, are believable and understandable. The explorations of the psyches of the Joker and Gordon shine in particular, but even the straight up AWFUL characters (i.e. Batbitch and Maxie Zeus) are interesting at times, and believable people. THE BAD: Listen. There’s something I have to establish. Batgirl is terrible. The entire Bat-Family is, but her especially. If you like Robin, or Nightwing, or any of Batman’s conspicuously-colored sidekicks, first of all kill yourself and secondly you MAY enjoy the filler sections of the book (I promise, we’re getting there). Now, why is she so bad, outside of this book? Well, for the reason they all are. Let’s face another tough fact: Batman is the penultimate edgy teenage male power fantasy. It’s meant to be grimdark. So when you add wisecracking, “fUn AnD wHaCkY cHArAcTeRs” to that mix that are basically carbon copies of one another (that in turn are literally like Spider-Man, but utterly unlikable), you essentially ruin the tone of the story, or at least have to change it. And this is where both the Killing Joke movie and prose novel falter. The original Killing Joke is a grimdark psychological eval essentially of the man called the Joker, and his philosophy that a single bad day could drive anyone as mad as him. It’s dark, it’s compelling, and in some places it’s literally SOUL CRUSHINGLY SAD. All that emotion? It was done with a minimum of WhAcKy SiDeKiCks. They’re UNNECESSARY. By adding Barbara’s alter-ego to both the film and the book in an attempt to make her crippling more impactful, you create the opposite effect and make her crippling a fucking cathartic relief (have I mentioned I despise Batman’s annoying sidekicks?) See, the prose novel and the film are under the impression that Barb has to be the protagonist. She fucking doesn’t. The thing that makes TKJ comic an oddity, and a fascinating one, is that you can spin the Joker into the hero. In an odd way, depending on how you interpret the 48 page masterpiece (and its ending panels), the Joker is either right about everything, or a miserable failure who simply was weak enough to crack under pressure. THAT’S A GOOD STORY. Barbara isn’t the focus or her crippling even the focal point; the Joker’s tragic backstory is. The man who now is known as the Harlequin of Hate is what holds that comic together, and his philosophy is the delicious cream filling. By taking the story away from him and giving it to Barbara, you change the very dynamic of the story, even more so than the whacky and “”””””funny””””””” sidekicks usually do. You completely change the point. While still a look into the Joker’s brain, it’s not the same, because now we have to “”””””””mourn”””””””” the clipped wings of the female bat. It’s cold and calculating, but Barbara was simply a means to an end in the original Killing Joke, for both the Joker and the story itself. Why change that? THE UGLY: 200. Fucking. FILLER PAGES. Mostly related to Batbitch. I’ve already gone over why that sucks, but what may surprise you is that some of it... is good? The parts focusing on Gordon actually harken back to the co-authors’ noir roots, and are honestly a lot of fun; it’s like reading a good episode of Gotham in parts. This is, unfortunately, offset by the Batman-Batgirl filler, which is a literal, painful slog filled with unnecessary references to the Justice League and general DC fan service, all intercut with Barb’s obnoxious “”””””””banter””””””” with Bruce and shitty little quips that make me want to jam rusty tent stakes into my urethra. Oh, and it clarified certain aspects that the comic left ambiguous, turning the whole thing into a fucking farce when you really think about it. THE VERDICT: I’m not going to lie, this book shines at parts. At times, I GENUINELY LOVED reading it, and considering I got it in the mail today, my speed-reading should be a testament to the fact that the good parts motivated me to slog through it. The problem is just that. It’s mostly a slog. On repeated readings, it’d be best to just skip through most of it. Joker in his cell, skip 30 pages to Alfred struggling with almost killing a thug, skip a bit more to Gordon, etc. As much as the authors are talented, the filler unfortunately is mostly utter shit and it leaves a bad taste in your mouth. The fact that the book also clarified some things left ambiguous in the comic... well, that adds to the layers of fecal cake. All in all, it’s a 2/5. Save your money, unless morbidly curious.