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Best Reads of 2018

It’s that time of year again! Here we’ve compiled our list of the ten best books we’ve read in 2018, and their consequent reviews, in no particular order. Enjoy!

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Batman: The Killing Joke movie


After recently reading the book, The Killing Joke, I wanted to watch the animated straight to DVD/Blueray version of the story. As with any beloved book, could a movie represent what was so popular in the book?  Could a director and animation crew match Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s vision in the story? Did it meet expectations? Well…yes(ish).

Indeed they tried, but a big criticism is the imagined prologue that was added on. This almost 30 minute segment was about Batgirl, and her sexually charged relationship with Batman. Perhaps they felt this was necessary for the source material is a relatively short book, and even with the extended prologue the movie only clocked in at 77 minutes. While this add on was interesting about Barbara and her motives, it made her seem needy and much younger than the book portrays her. Plus, the sex issue with a former father figure was skevy. This would have made a great episode of a Batman tv series, but wasn’t well matched with the classic story.

Once The Killing Joke story began it got back on track. The animation tone matched Bolland’s illustration style, with the red crayfish and Barbara’s yellow shirt being duplicated faithfully. The voice actors were all superb, with Mark Hamill’s voice as the Joker being a standout. I’m glad they had him do the voice, knowing he would again be voicing the villain was a draw for many to watch this adaptation.

The ending fell a bit flat for me. I felt the book’s ending conveyed more power and ambiguity to Batman’s and Joker’s interaction. I felt in the movie they were just buddies laughing at a bad joke, instead of the questionably ominous ending of the book. Thus, I would give the movie a tepid recommendation, for it was interesting to compare the book to the movie.

Final thoughts: Although it received a R rating, for it contained some sexual content and violence, it felt like a PG13 movie to me. Teens could safely watch it in my opinion.  As most super hero movies give a little Easter egg at the end, this remained true in this movie, so make sure you stick around through the credits.



Batman: The Killing Joke

the killing joke
Moore, Alan & Brian Bolland. Batman: The Killing Joke. 1988.

I needed to read this novel and see what all the fuss is about- after all it is on our Recommendations list. Did it live up to all the hype? Yes and no.

First and foremost,  I am not enamored of Batman for he’s grumpy and skulks around in the shadows. I am not typically a DC fan, so I am not aware of some of the background history of Batman lore, although I do know who Barbara was and will become. One of the reasons this novel is considered a stand out is that in 1988 the level of violence was more extreme than other comics in the past. But after reading Locke & Key and The Walking Dead recently, the violence in this novel did not strike me as excessive ( I am desensitized to it, which is actually kinda sad) . All of this already puts me at a disadvantage starting the story.

I was reading the deluxe edition, that is both drawn and re-colored by Brian Bolland. In this edition, his original concept is now done the way he envisioned it. The illustrations are beyond good, with eye popping bold colors added in contrast to the more sepia colored panels. Joker is a vision, and I liked this rendition of him better than others by other artists.

Alan Moore is a legend, so you know the origin story for Joker is golden, although highly suspect.  Some of Joker’s dialogue is spot on such as:

“So when you find yourself locked onto an unpleasant thought, heading for the places in your past where the screaming is unbearable, remember there’s always madness…madness is the emergency exit.”

“All it takes is one bad day to reduce the sanest man alive to lunacy”   His statements actually make…sense.

In the end, Joker’s manipulations don’t have the desired effect on Commissioner Gordon, but they just might on Batman. The ambiguous ending between Joker and Batman can be interpreted in many different ways. This draw your own conclusion setup is what elevates this story. On my first read through, I thought the story was just meh. On second read through, I understood some of the nuances and got a lot more from it.

This deluxe edition has a lot going for it including a introduction by Tim Sale and an afterword by Brian Bolland. Bolland also adds a bonus story that true aficionados will enjoy, but did nothing for me. While this story did not even come close to making me a Batman fan, I do see why this story was groundbreaking and is loved to this day. As such, it was tuned into an animated movie recently, with mixed reviews.


Kathleen- I am calling you out, for I now have read several DC novels, and you have yet to review a Marvel one. I have been pleasantly surprised at some of the DC storylines, so now I want you to find a Marvel book and enjoy it!

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