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Killing Joke Remastered

Posted by: Jon Haehnle on March 20, 2008 at 1:35 pm

The $17.99 price tag is kinda hefty for a slim hardcover like this, but the new coloring — by artist Brian Bolland himself — on DC’s just-released Killing Joke Anniversary Edition is really impressive! Check the scans below and you’ll notice that the new coloring is often a subtractive process, making everything look less gaudy and more refined. Interestingly, the yellow oval on the Bat logo has been removed everywhere.

I might just have to buy this (especially since I gave my copy away years ago…)!



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50 Responses to "Killing Joke Remastered"

1 | Ernie Estrella

March 23rd, 2008 at 12:10 am


Yeah it went from a coloring book to something dynamic and with real mood and excitement!

2 | Jeffrey

March 25th, 2008 at 8:03 am


Wow, that IS impressive. Looks like Bolland really put a lot of thought into his choice of colours. This alone might change my mind about picking the book up.

4 | Pj

March 25th, 2008 at 2:16 pm


I have to say … I’m on the fence. As a big fan of the original, it seems some of the boldness of the colors really defined the style and era … especially with the last big Joker reveal panel there. I can see Bolland cut back the colors for the flashback sequences, assumably to distinguish them from the “present” sequences, but … I dunno.

Plus, removing the yellow oval? That’s not recoloring — that’s Greedo shooting first. I’m no fan of the yellow oval suit, but it’s WHAT WAS THERE. Unless there’s some revisionist editorial mandate …

5 | Kayode Kendall

March 25th, 2008 at 3:52 pm


People really seem to frown on the oval for one reason or another. It sucks that they feel compelled to omit it as if it never existed. I definitely agree, it’s Greedo shooting first, most definitely.

On the whole, I’d say the recoloring is okay. I definitely agree with the sentiment that it thankfully no longer looks like a coloring book. Especially the page with Batman smearing the white makeup of the joker imposter’s face. I always hated the skin looking so yellow. And the flashback scenes really benefit from the muted colors, while the red is still fairly vibrant. Not to mention the added shading and lighting effects.

6 | camilo

March 27th, 2008 at 9:25 am


It was a Joker’s story. With Joker’s colors. The colors now are more like a story about Batman. With “Batman Begins” colors, and “X-Men – the movie” uniforms.

…and the lighting effects are just crap.

The original is better.

7 | Jeff

March 27th, 2008 at 5:28 pm


Er, I’m not convinced…the original book might have been a bit garish (with good reason, considering that it was the Joker’s Big Moment), the colors were beautifully applied, vivid, and even cinematic.

The new version = dullsville, at least to this reader.

8 | Martin

March 29th, 2008 at 11:38 pm


“Pimp” Gordon don’t look all that flash in the new version.

9 | Richard Starkings

April 2nd, 2008 at 1:03 pm


I can tell you that when I was working with Brian, ahem, TWENTY years ago, he often talked to me about how he visualized each page being coloured — the way they look now is exactly as he described. I’m so glad he has had this opportunity now to present his artwork the way he always intended.

10 | Sean McCoy

April 2nd, 2008 at 5:38 pm


I think the new colors, as subtractive as they are, are the worst kind of artistic retconning. The book comes from a beautiful period of comics history and I think should stand the way it is. Alan Moore is an impeccable writer when it comes to obsessively controlling his artists and I don’t think “The Killing Joke” is any different. I think he get exactly the look he was going for, and I think to change it to meet today’s standards of post-Dark Knight Returns desaturation and disenfranchised heroes is an abuse.

11 | Kristian donaldson

April 4th, 2008 at 1:27 am


i color my own linework, and being in that position i see how colors relationship to lines shapes what you see in regards to where your eye moves, settles, etc. the new colors are much more beneficial to the line art. there’s open spaces, depth, restraint, benefit to the storytelling and mood. lotta pluses, if maybe a bit too subdued for my particular tastes. i dig 80s colors for the same nostalgic reason as everyone else, in fact i incorporate alot of the look into my own work for some impact and effect here and there. but really, it’s a crude way of coloring, and if the artist has the opportunity to go back and do what he sees as a greater service to his work, which in his heart is a greater service to the reader, let’s celebrate his work for the good reasons, and let the subjective purism go. you now have two options=)

12 | Edu

April 6th, 2008 at 8:52 am


I like both.

13 | Felipe Sobreiro

April 12th, 2008 at 12:22 am


I like both too, but the first one is clearly cruder, I think the new one’s mood is very subtle and since it’s Bolland himself doing it, I really can’t see what the fuss is about…

14 | Jason A.

May 8th, 2008 at 2:00 am


camilo said it perfectly. The new one blows.

15 | Jubi

June 5th, 2008 at 12:58 pm


I didn´t like. The original colour is more dramatic, more shocking, add more insanity to the art, to the history… but maybe it´s just because I read the first one first and am a great fan…

16 | jamie

June 30th, 2008 at 9:17 pm


it went from bad to….meh. would of much rather see bolland invest time into something new,color is not his strong point. Im a huge fan of his work otherwise……

17 | Scot

July 31st, 2008 at 2:08 am


I like how the re-coloring was supposed to make the world more “realistic” and help accentuate the line work. Unfortunately Bolland subdued the colors while over rendering with whatever program he used. The cape and the helmet look terrible and the over rendered sky takes away focus from the lone mad man emerging from the water. Not only boring but an example of how computer based coloring can really ruin great line work. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Give me the original.

18 | Jack Mama

August 14th, 2008 at 1:42 am


Yikes. Attack of the Whiny Commenters. How is removing the yellow oval equivalent to Greedo shooting first? Greedo shooting first damaged Han Solo’s character; the yellow oval is a minor stylistic choice at best. It’s not like the artwork was altered to make the Joker shoot Barbara in the kneecap instead of the spine.

I recently bought this hardcover edition, and it was worth it. (The $18 price sucks, but Amazon is selling it for just over $10.) And yes, the new coloring is an improvement, much like the recolored version of Batman: Year One. It looks cleaner but at the same time grittier. It just looks better.

19 | Archile

August 14th, 2008 at 6:29 pm


It actually….looks good. I remember the first time I read TKJ, and I glanced at the coloring, I couldn’t help but think “What the hell is this?!”, but as I read it, it kinda grew on me, although I found it “out of place”…..it was waaay too yellowy for me.

The new coloring, however, suits my tastes much more. The colors look more natural, which helps inmerse the reader much more, atleast I think it does.

In the end, I like both takes, but if I had to choose, I’d go with Bolland’s take.

20 | Joey L

August 15th, 2008 at 4:32 am


I think it’s great to reissue this excellent story. New coloring brings added value, at least to those of us who like to keep every version on their shelves. The old book DID NOT GO AWAY!
The Deluxe Edition may even bring in a couple of new Batman/Joker fans.
Now we have a Joker version and a Batman version of the book, and multiple choice past as well.

21 | K▲LIGUL▲

August 15th, 2008 at 4:34 pm


Wow! Great work of restauration. Smile!:P

22 | Sam

August 17th, 2008 at 11:21 pm


“How is removing the yellow oval equivalent to Greedo shooting first?”

I think the reasoning people aren’t liking the change is that it appears Bolland changed his line art to remove the oval.

This becomes revisionist editing akin to Lucas making Greedo shoot first or changing the conversation between Vader and the Emperor in Empire Strikes Back to reflect Episode III’s version of events, or putting Hayden in the final shot of Return of the Jedi.

In the comics, Batman was still wearing the yellow oval suit when it was originally published. He doesn’t now (that I am aware, I haven’t read Batman comics in a long, long time), and he didn’t have the oval in the flashbacks because of the time it was supposed to be set. So it seems more akin to the changing of the art to make it seem more relevant to today’s Batman instead of just recoloring and keeping the line art the same.

23 | JSL

August 18th, 2008 at 3:56 pm


Well, that’s just ridiculous. The artist says that is the way he wanted to color the book. It doesn’t matter what happened in the “era”. If I’m hearing things correctly, it seems the “era” steamrolled over the artist, and it’s good to see his original vision restored.

I’ll bet if someone forced Frank Miller to watercolor Sin City and he took the opportunity to reissue it b/w in the wake of the movie, you’d hear an equal number of whiners.

“Greedo shooting first.” Man, grow up. Lordy, no wonder people have such a negative image of the net community. I’m going to Border’s right f’n NOW to get this edition.

24 | Jack Mama

August 18th, 2008 at 7:28 pm


“This becomes revisionist editing akin to Lucas making Greedo shoot first or changing the conversation between Vader and the Emperor in Empire Strikes Back to reflect Episode III’s version of events, or putting Hayden in the final shot of Return of the Jedi.”

It’s not “akin” to those changes. If Bolland changed the artwork to make the Joker shoot Barbara only after she attacked him first, it would be fair to compare it to Greedo shooting first. But removing the yellow oval, which changes nothing in regards to story or character, isn’t even in the same galaxy as Greedo shooting first.

Greedo shooting first changed Han Solo’s character. It changed his motivation for killing Greedo. He originally shot Greedo in cold blood, and Lucas changed the scene to make him kill Greedo in self-defense. Removing the yellow oval changes a small part of Batman’s costume.

Also, it’s worth pointing out that the original version of The Killing Joke is still in print, unlike the original theatrical versions of Star Wars. So if you don’t like the new version, fine, but nobody’s rewriting the history books.

25 | Kevin Murphy

August 24th, 2008 at 3:27 am


I read this book several times over in the original color (whether online or from the library). I recently bought the Deluxe Edition not knowing it was recolored and was pleasantly surprised. Im a big fan of the new colors.

26 | Alan Strangis

August 25th, 2008 at 4:24 pm


I’m with Jack Mama. The Greedo comparison doesn’t work at all.

Though I was a huge fan of the original, I personally like the subtler colours in the new edition. It really makes Bolland’s inks stand out much more clearly, and IMHO his line work certainly should be the focus in anything he draws.

BTW, Brian Bolland was interviewed at Fan Expo this year, and talked about the recolouring process, and a few other topics, here.


27 | M. F. Albon

August 26th, 2008 at 6:02 am


I read the Deluxe version last week and hated it because of the recoloring. The color-coded flashbacks of the original version gave me the impression that the story was Joker-oriented — like how schizophrenics supposedly have heightened color-perception. I mean, does Van Gogh ring any bells? BMY1 by contrast was known for pseudo-monochroma.

Removing the yellow oval from Batman’s insignia was a rather cheap attempt to shoehorn TKJ into the current DC continuity. In all the post Zero-Hour retcons right up to now Batman has never had the yellow oval insignia.

28 | Amanda

September 6th, 2008 at 4:17 pm


well, like the joker said, “I like it to be multiple choice.”

29 | D. Knight

September 14th, 2008 at 9:35 am


The new coloring’s a big improvement on the old one. Only I’d have preferred the shot of Joker going insane (3rd picture, last panel) to be in its original color.

30 | legionserial

September 23rd, 2008 at 7:12 am


Useless fact: The original Batman never had the yellow ellipse. Batman’s suit was modified in 1964 to incorporate it.

31 | legionserial

September 23rd, 2008 at 7:21 am


Useless fact: Originally there was no yellow ellipse. Batman’s suit was modified around 1964 to incorporate it.

32 | rgbFilter » Fan Expo: Brian Bolland Interview

October 14th, 2008 at 9:47 am


[...] and Animal Man. They discuss the recolouring of The Killing Joke for the recently released ‘Remastered‘ edition, Mr. Bolland’s process, including drawing on a Wacom tablet, as well as the [...]

33 | the_elan

October 26th, 2008 at 6:49 pm


I like some of what’s done in the original and some ove what’s done in the new. I think they should’ve just color corrected the old version instead of redoing it.

I really hate the reflective light on the Red Hood’s cape. And I prefer the original colors on that last page/last panel.

It loses some of that organic feel.

But it isn’t as bad when they recolored Moebius’s work on The Incal.

34 | Batman: The Killing Joke | bluemechaoxide

October 28th, 2008 at 5:44 am


[...] of the original. The color palette this time around is much colder and less… 80s. Seriously, see for yourself. Brian Bolland did a fantastic job of going over John Higgins’ old work, for [...]

35 | Carmen Cotelo

November 1st, 2008 at 1:32 am


As much as I like Alan Moore’s work, I don’t know if I am willing to buy another copy of a comic I already have just because they released a revamped version.

I’d rather use that money for buying comics I have not read yet. Not to mention the amount of shelving space I’d need if I get all the remastered versions that have been released lately of comics I already have!.

Hum. That said, I DID buy Neil Gaiman’s Absolute Sandman. And this version looks really good so…
I guess I will end up giving up my bedroom to Alan et alia. Doh!

Oh, well…

PS: Do you really find this comic pricey at 17 dollars? :D

Never ever move to Spain then. It’s very unlikely to buy a comic (any comic) for less than that here. It’s actually cheaper for me to order my comics directly from the US (even after adding the shipping and handling fees).

36 | Andreas Faaborg Nielsen

November 13th, 2008 at 12:28 pm


Im a huge fan of Batman. I’ve begun writing/drawing a Batcomic myself (fan fiction if you like) and I often have discussions with other hardcore Bat-fans about adventures of the dark knight.

One of the frequent subjects was The Killing Joke, which we all love but at the same time hated for it’s coloring.


1. It looked ridicules. The story was so dark and evil. The coloring should resemple this.

2. It wasn’t the way Bolland had intended it. In my book the artist should ALWAYS decide the coloring of his work.

When I heard that a new version would see the light of day I had to yell: “Holy great remake, Batman!”. I bought it and Im thrilled.

It’s much better than the original. I love the new coloring and the way it has been redrawn. Im also thrilled with how Bolland has managed to remove the 80′s tone the original possesed. It made it seem very locked in the time which is sort of annoying today. I think the new version will be easier to read again in twenty years.

37 | Josh Lumitao

November 17th, 2008 at 12:00 am


I totally agree with D.Knight!

I just bought The Killing Joke Deluxe two days ago, and have just completed it an hour and a half ago. From these pictures above, I kinda think that the original had a more ‘cartoony’ look to it (though I don’t necessarily believe a bad thing). The new version has a far more mature feel to it, and it seems more serious and a lot grittier.

But I agree with D. Knight that the panel where The Joker goes insane looked better in the original. The bold colors made him look totally crazier. The entire page didn’t have to be colored, just that picture with his hands on his hair. Don’t you think there would have been a sharper contrast that way?

I guess I should admit that I haven’t read the original yet. Looks like I’m gonna go look for it now! :)

Oh, and just a little side-note. I bought it at sale price at $16.99. I say sale because it had a special yellow sticker on the plastic covering saying “SALE!”.


November 24th, 2008 at 9:21 pm




39 | Fabio Ciccone

December 22nd, 2008 at 3:23 pm


*Waiting for DC to do the same with Watchmen”

40 | SM

December 28th, 2008 at 8:15 pm


Not impressed at all. The garish, nauseating colours in the original are vital to it’s atmosphere. I don’t care if Bolland prefers grey, for this story I prefer garish! Agree with other posters who say that this is a Joker story not a Batman story and should have been left alone.

41 | Harvey Vasquez

January 9th, 2009 at 12:20 pm


I’ve never read either, yet but I have to say, I thought from first glance that the recoloring hit the spot but comparing them closer, the garish colors were more effective. It even made the words from the page pop off the page more for me where as the recoloring left everything to flat for me. I am an artist though not by trade. I aspired to be a comic book artist for a short time so in my wanna be opinion, the garish colors are far more effective.

42 | rachel

January 11th, 2009 at 9:45 pm


I wish they’d left the jokers gloves alone. The purple gloves make it more sureal, he doesn’t look like any regular psycho with them. But i’m glad they fixed gordon. he reminded me of paddington bear before

43 | crackwalker

January 13th, 2009 at 9:28 am


This smacks of ‘New Coke’ – recolouring is unnessessary, and diminishes the impact. The garish colours make the world seem strange and surreal, the way the Joker might see the world, and the way he’s trying to make Batman and Gordon see the world. That approach maybe isn’t in vogue at the moment, but Killing Joke is a classic. I’m glad I have my original.

And I’m totally against removing the oval – very Greedo shoots first. Boo!

What about the big dorky batman face on the front of the batmobile? Maybe we should replace it with the ‘scrambler’?

I always thought that the hokey looking batman things in this story added a lot of depth to the story – it visually reinforces the notion that Batman is just as crazy as the Joker.

44 | crackwalker

January 13th, 2009 at 9:44 am


Of course there will be a lot of people that like the new colouring job – it’s following the current trends.

Maybe ten years from now, when it looks dated, it can be re-remastered again.


45 | Anders Gabrielsson

January 14th, 2009 at 6:43 am


I for one will gladly have both.

46 | Trinity

January 25th, 2009 at 3:50 am


Hmm. I’ve been trying to find The Killing Joke for a while, and I was glad when I heard that they were re-issuing it. I’m a little bit iffy on the new colours, though. They do look cleaner, and more realistic, but I do think it makes the comic look less dramatic, especially the last panel with the Joker laughing. I think the old colours make it look more insane. But at least Bolland got what he wanted…

47 | Shawn Garrett

February 25th, 2009 at 1:51 am


Well, I like the original. New one is way too monochromatic. I like my funnybooks with touch of seriousness, not seriousbooks that forget their funny origins!

48 | Ian Hainsworth

February 25th, 2009 at 5:26 am


Overpriced when first issued, a mediore story by Alan Moore great visuals by Bolland,
Why recolour should hve been rewritten sorry Alan
Overall a dissapointing example of DC comics greed.
do not buy,Batman would be trying to bring down this type of exploitation

49 | steph

March 3rd, 2009 at 5:03 am


I am on your side. It makes me think of the debate on Moore and Gibbons “Watchmen” colors. Remastering leads to a new book, with new trends and comics-anachronia. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it s just a usefull way to sell books.

50 | James

March 12th, 2009 at 7:53 am


10 | Sean McCoy – Actually, Moore reports that he suffered a breakdown of communication with the artists over this one, and the colouring ended up nothing like what he wanted.