Batman: The Killing Joke is one of Alan Moore’s most famous mainstream DC Universe stories, and one that set the stage for the Dark Age of Comic Books along with other stories such as The Death of Superman, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, and — of course — Moore’s opus Watchmen. With Doomsday Clock featuring a significant amount of subtext alluding to this era of storytelling, the narrative takes a turn to pay homage to one of Moore’s other major contributions to DC Comics during his time working at the company.
In the second issue of Doomsday Clock, Rorschach and Ozymandias crash-land Archimedes in an abandoned amusement park. Long-time DC fans may recognize this park as a crucial location in The Killing Joke — it’s the place that Joker takes GCPD Commissioner Jim Gordon to psychologically torture the man in an attempt to prove a point that all it takes is a single bad day to reduce a sane man to lunacy. While Joker is ultimately unsuccessful, the park itself is host to a wealth of haunting imagery that make the story one of the most memorable Batman narratives.
The story infamously crippled Barbara Gordon, ending her superhero career as Batgirl and leaving her wheelchair-bound (although this wouldn’t stop her battle against crime, as she assumed the identity of Oracle and became one of the DC Universe’s greatest hackers). Later on in DC’s post-Crisis on Infinite Earths continuity but before Flashpoint, Gordon was able to undergo experimental therapy that would allow her to walk again, which gave her the ability to assume the identity of Batgirl once more. This story suggests that Barbara spent some time as Oracle in the post-Flashpoint continuity, or at least that this is something that’s been added as the timeline of the DC Universe shifts as a result of Dr. Manhattan’s influence.
The Killing Joke was also adapted into a DC Animated Movie, which while praised for the performances of the voice actors (primarily Mark Hamill’s reprisal of his role as the Joker), was met with a polarized response largely stemming from controversy due to the addition of a subplot that portrayed a sex scene between Batgirl and Batman.
The first two issues of Doomsday Clock are on shelves now, while the third issue will be arriving on January 24.