What can be said about The Killing Joke that hasn’t already been said over and over? It’s a sadistically brilliant comic with some sharp dialogue and truly uncomfortable moments that would have even the most staunch gore-lover left squirming in their seat. Writer Alan Moore looks at the relationship between the Joker and Batman as more than just a man dressed as a bat throwing punches at a demented clown.

Moore dissects every layer of these two characters and perfectly picks apart their difference as well as their disturbing similarities. Never before had the psyche of the Joker been given as much weight and credence as in this story, but Moore doesn’t just focus on the emotions of the grim harlequin the entire time; instead, he lets the vile actions of the Joker reveal his character.

From shooting and paralyzing Barbara Gordon, to taking nude photos of her writhing in pain, and finally kidnapping her father and forcing him to view these perverse pictures, the Joker has never been shown as maniacal as he is in this book. But it’s not all horror and gore, Moore fills this book with beautiful prose and personality insights, aided by some nightmarish art by Brian Bolland. The Killing Joke perfectly blends comic book action and over-the-top violence, but grounds everything in an engrossing plot all at the same time.