Some are obvious, some are me overanalyzing, but I’d really enjoy hearing everyone else’s thoughts or discoveries.
Goes without saying, but spoilers ahead.
One of the things I love so much about this book’s art is that everything feels calculated, starting with the cover itself. Essentially, we’re being pulled into the story and placed in the same position as Barbara - we’re victims.
In the Joker’s eyes, believing we have any agency in our own fate is laughable. No matter what we do, we’re all helpless to life’s indifference and chaos. “Sh*t happens, then ya die.” As far as he’s concerned, we’re a part of the killing joke.
Also, I read that the brand on the camera’s lens (Witzmacher) translates to “Joke Maker” in German, haha.
First and last panel of the book:
Identical. I love the cyclical nature of it. I don’t believe in a definitive conclusion to the book (maybe Batman killed Joker, maybe not - longwinded viewpoint here), but I think this can be taken to suggest the latter. Batman didn’t kill Joker; they’re doomed to repeat this mad game of cat and mouse, their actions endlessly overlapping, rippling, multiplying along the way.
To me, this shot always looked like Jim was literally being swallowed up by some maw of darkness. I cherrypicked the bat photo to prove my point. Anyway, ooo. Foreshadowing.
Page 2, con’t:
Other than the Joker, the only inmate shown is Harvey. The bar splitting his face in half, the monstrous hand versus the human hand – Two-Face wasn’t featured on a whim.
In a symbolic sense, he represents the nature and characters of this story (good vs evil, sanity vs madness, law vs chaos). In a more literal sense, his imagery foretells Jim’s fate: Caged and facing the choice of becoming man or monster. Gordon’s glance back can even give a sense of premonition.
And then there’s the way Batman’s shadow is drawn nearly on top of him. A highlighted contrast between Jim’s light and Bruce’s darkness? A stylistic choice to add to the claustrophobia of the image, as it traps Jim between the monster and the Batman? Etc.
To quote Google:
In cartomancy, the Two of Clubs describes an unclear situation between two individuals.
For the consultant (Batman), the Two of Clubs signifies that in the coming days, you will have to cope with the consequences of a fight with a friend or a family member.
Annnnd Google again:
- When the consultant (Batman) is a man, the Jack of Clubs refers to a dangerous person. The Jack of Clubs presents a competitor who does not care about the consequences of his acts and could harm you.
Page 4 con’t:
More foreshadowing of Jim’s fate: caged by the Joker, caught between the game of two madmen.
Page 4 con’t, alongside two panels from the last page:
And yet more foreshadowing. The similarities are obvious, from the metal bar and beam of light, to the weird puddle following Bruce around.
What’s more interesting is that by the book’s end, Bats and Joker have traded positions.
They’re essentially interchangeable (read: both are crazy).
By the story’s end, Bruce is now the mad one and/or a killer, while the Joker has the saner understanding of their situation.
Okay, that’s only 4 pages in and I’m beat. To be continued!