DC's bizarre deal with an '80s metal band to make Alan Moore's Batman: The Killing Joke

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Jan 16, 2014, 4:58 PM EST

Sure, writer Alan Moore (Watchmen) played a pretty large role in putting together DC’s acclaimed, controversial Batman graphic novel The Killing Joke — but we also owe a debt to a 1980s metal band you’ve probably never heard of.

The graphic novel, which focused on the Joker’s attempts to drive Commissioner Gordon to madness and features one of the most ambiguously awesome final panels in comic history, was released in 1988. The one-off’s title is an admittedly perfect fit for the story, but there was one problem — a mildly successful heavy metal-punk band already had the rights to it at the time.

So, in a truly creative move, DC cut a deal. For the rights to use the name The Killing Joke for Moore’s Batman masterpiece, the band was allowed to use Batman in the cover art of two of their albums. A side shot of Bats showed up on the band’s single America, while part of his cape can be seen in the art for the album Outside the Gate.

But that’s not all — the band also got to keep the original artwork for the now-iconic cover shot (see above) of the Joker, which was put in the care of bass player Paul Raven. As Bleeding Cool notes, Raven passed away in 2007, and the artwork has apparently been lost ever since. That's a shame, too, because it's awesome.

So the next time you’re digging through your classic Batman 'books, pour one out for the fine rockers of the Killing Joke who made that iconic title possible. Heck, you could even pick up an album if you're feeling nostalgic for those '80s glory days.


(Via Bleeding Cool)