Batman: The Killing Joke is CGC’s Featured Comic of the Month for March

Posted on 3/6/2018

It’s been 30 years since the release of the graphic novel focused on the origins of the Joker, generally regarded as the best Batman villain.

A first printing (left) and a third printing of Batman: The Killing Joke. Notice the difference in color in the title.
Click images to enlarge. (Images courtesy of Heritage Auctions)

Name of comic: Batman: The Killing Joke

Comic publisher: DC

Date: March 1988

Variants: Second through Fourteenth Printings; United Kingdom – UK Edition; United Kingdom – UK Edition/3rd Edition; Swedish Edition; Italian Edition; 2008 DC Direct Edition

What makes it special? Batman made his debut in 1939, and he has been vexed by his nemesis, the Joker, since 1940. Batman: The Killing Joke establishes an origin story for the Joker as a failed comedian pressured into robbing the chemical plant where he once worked, only to end up disfigured by toxic waste after an encounter with Batman. In a key development for the Batman Universe, the Joker paralyzes Police Commissioner Gordon’s daughter, Batgirl. The graphic novel served as the basis for the 2016 R-rated animated film of the same name, starring Mark Hamill as the Joker. (Hamill had previously provided the Joker’s voice for “Batman: The Animated Series” in the 1990s.)

Why is it interesting now? This is the 30th anniversary of Batman: The Killing Joke.

Did you know? The various reprintings are distinguished by changes in color to elements on the cover, such as the title, the Joker’s tie and his cufflinks.

Total graded by CGC: CGC has graded 5,327 copies of this book (including 278 reprints, 13 of its UK variants, 10 of a "DC Direct" printing in 2008, 1 of the Swedish variant and 1 of the Italian variant), as of Feb. 9, 2018. Nine percent of them have Signature Series labels.

CGC median grade: The median grade for these books is Near Mint + 9.6

CGC highest graded: CGC has graded 14 copies of the original printing of this book in Mint condition (10). A single Fourteenth Printing has also been graded a perfect 10.

Sales highlights: A CGC 10 edition was sold by Heritage Auctions in October 2015 for $3,824. Near Mint CGC-encapsulated copies of the first printing of Batman: The Killing Joke can be found on eBay for about $200.

CGC Comics Registry Champion: No joke – a set named “Kill” by “aszumilo” is the Clown Prince of this graphic novel, collecting 18 of the printings, including the Swedish variant. This particular set has won Best in Set Type from 2012 to 2017. See this and other collections in the CGC Comics Registry.

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