RUN: 1 issue 1988; reprinted
under the same title
KEY CREATORS: Alan Moore (writer) Brian Bolland (artist)
OUTLINE: The Joker engages in one of his most psychological attacks against Batman and the Gordons, and a possible origin of the Joker is given
STANDOUT ISSUE: The one-shot in question
DUD ISSUE: None
OVERALL: This is one of comics' great reads. The Joker is at his most disturbing yet most sympathetic. I doubt that it could be made in today's climate, but it's a great mature readers' look into the Joker's mind. Batman also gets some good moments, trying desperately to end his war against the Joker peacefully, and James Gordon has his own brand of heroism, but it's mainly the Joker's show, and he puts on his best performance ever (sometimes quite literally, as with his "I Go Loony" song). One minor quibble is I would have played up Barbara a bit more before the Joker's attack. Due to the mature readers approach, this comic probably attracts people who don't normally read Batman. As such, ensuring that readers who aren't too familiar with the character will still care what happens to her would have enhanced the comic. I'm sure that due to the nature of the crime, readers will feel something for her, but I'm not sure that the reason they'll feel for her is necessarily because she's Barbara.
RECOMMENDED OR NOT? Despite the quibble above, definitely a good if disturbing read.
CONTINUITY NOTES: In this comic, Batman unmasks in front of Barbara and says that it's Bruce. Barbara doesn't act surprised, as if she was told earlier. Yet in Suicide Squad, which late in its run heavily follows through on this story, Barbara is mad at Batman for never trusting her with his true identity and turns down an offer to learn it.