Batman The Killing Joke The Deluxe Edition and B&W French and US Editions

Pour lire cet article en français, c'est ici. For a complete list of all books reviewed in this blog, please visit the index page.

Script Alan Moore (and Brian Bolland for A Innocent Guy short story), art and colors Brian Bolland, all material is ©DC Comics.

This article deals with three editions of The Killing Joke story (I have added Batman Noir The Killing Joke more recently), editions that are not limited or hard to find, but to my eyes are the nicest editions so far on the market (Graphitti Designs has announced a Gallery Edition in the near future).

Let's begin in chronological order with the French B&W 75th Anniversary Special Edition:

Published in April 2015 by Urban Comics (a subsidiary of Dargaud), this book is designed to fit in the collection published in May 2014 to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Batman, along HushDark VictoryNight of the Owls, The Dark Knight Returns and Batman Year One. However, note that this Killing Joke book was not advertised as being a limited print run of 3000 copies. These are 12 x 8 inches (or 30 x 20 cm) hardcover books sharing the same collection design and published on very thick mat paper.

for Frank Miller's books go here

This volume (ISBN: 978-2-3657-7639-4, 64 pages, cover price 19€) shares the same plain black second and third of cover with all the books from this collection. A picture below is for size comparison with the latest US Deluxe Edition reprint of this story.

The book opens with a two page introduction written by Tim Sale dated 2008 (originally from the US Deluxe Edition). It reprints The Killing Joke in full clean B&W (no shades of grey) from the original art, i.e. before Brian Bolland 2008 rework (see later in this article).

the red cards were not inked

The 11 pages bonus section features:
  • a two pages afterword written by Brian Bolland and dated 2008
  • An Innocent Guy story originally published in B&W in Batman Black and White #4 (8 pages)

Out of the 12 pages extra section produced by Brian Bolland featured in the US Deluxe edition, only the ten first pages are included in this French edition. So the pages featuring excerpts from Brian Bolland files are missing (because it features coloured pictures?). These two pages are displayed later in this article.

An unsourced Batman illustration not included in the US Deluxe edition:

We now move on with the more recent US edition, Batman Noir The Killing Joke:

this edition uses a different cover

This volume (ISBN: 978-1-4012-6364-5, 114 pages, cover price $29.99) was published by DC Comics in August 2016. A picture below is for size comparison with the latest US Deluxe Edition reprint of this story, and the French B&W edition described above. There is another picture of the sewn binding.

The book features the same plain black second and third of cover. Below are the opening pages and full credit pages. Notice that there is no introduction or foreword in this edition.

This edition reprints The Killing Joke in full clean B&W (no shades of grey) from Brian Bolland 2008 re-worked used for The Deluxe Edition described further.

looking at Batman's hands and the Joker face in the bottom right corner, we can begin to assume that the US edition uses different material sources from the French edition
another comparison between the French (right) and US (left) editions

Below, as we spot the Penguin in the background of the penultimate panel, it means that this is a B&W adaptation of the 2008 Deluxe edition (see further in this article).

The two B&W editions differs significantly in their extra content. If they both feature Brian Bolland's An Innocent Guy eight pages story in full B&W, the US Batman Noir edition also includes The Origin of the Joker two pages story, written by Mark waid and illustrated by Brian Bolland originally published in 2007 in Countdown to Final Crisis #31.

But the real incentive of this edition resides in its 48 pages B&W cover pages:
  • Joker: The Last Laught #1 and #6
  • Cover Story: The DC Comics Art of Brian Bolland
  • Dark Knight III: The Master Race #1 variant cover
  • Batman: Gotham Knights #2-11, #14-21, #23-30, #32-40, #42-47 plus an unused cover
  • Batman & Robin #25

to the left, unused cover for Batman: Gotham Knights

the bio page to finish this edition

Now let's get back to the 2008 US Deluxe Edition:

Published in 2008 by DC Comics (my copy is one of the ninth edition), the book comes with a fully illustrated dust jacket.

The inner book (11 x 7.5 inches or 28 x 19 cm, ISBN: 978-1-4012-1667-2, 64 pages, price cover $17.99) has an embossed black hardcover illustrated with violet varnish, and plain green second and third of cover.

This book reprints The Killing Joke with a new coloring by Brian Bolland (original colors by John Higgins). In his afterword Brian Bolland explains that every page has also been very slightly reworked in term of the art. Examples are shown at the end of this article.

Tim Sale forword

the red cards are there!

flash back scenes have their dedicated tone

In the 12 pages extra section, the An Innocent Guy story appears in a new colored version.

Brian Bolland afterword

these two pages were not reprinted in the B&W editions

Now to finish this article, here are some pictures comparing the original coloring by John Higgins, and the new one, as well as examples of reworked artwork.

Original coloring excerpts are from the first French edition of The Killing Joke published by Comics USA (a then Glénat subsidiary) in February 1989. And yes my copy has been signed the very same year by Mister Moore :).

on the left French edition with original coloring, on the right US Deluxe Edition

brag mode
overall the colors have been attenuated

color tone contrast between the flash back and real time scenes has been increased

here comes the Penguin in 2008 (alongside Alan Moore?)

notice the Batman chest logo differences

On the left hand side below, we have the original colored edition, and on the right hand side we have the 2008 reworked edition.

The same panel in the B&W French edition (bottom), and the Batman Noir US edition (top):

it's less psychedelic now
 Another panel comparison between these four editions:

from the original colored edition

... from the 2008 Deluxe edition ...

... to the left the 2016 Batman Noir US edition, to the right the 2015 French B&W edition


  1. In 2009, spanish publisher planeta de agostini realeased a hardcover killing joke version that is 12.8 x 8.5 inches, they branded it as "Absolute Batman: La broma asesina" not quite the size of an actual absolute edition, but pretty large anyway, isbn: 978-8467443301. Great blog.

    1. Thanks!
      And thanks for the info, I will look into that!

  2. There is an Absolute Edition coming in September which will include both coloring versions.

  3. have you got the absolute edition and will you do a review of it?

    1. Hello, I do not have it yet, but I plan to buy it someday and include it in a review


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