Being a card-carrying nerd, and therefore tangentially knowledgeable about a variety of comic book topics, I’ve always been slightly embarrassed regarding my ignorance of The Killing Joke. I knew it was an important part of Batman and Joker lore, and I knew it was highly regarded as a real piece of art in graphic-novel-adoring circles, but I wasn’t really sure what it was past that. Turns out, it’s a very short, beautifully and terrifyingly illustrated story that focuses on the similarities between the Joker and Batman, with an ending just vague and ominous enough to leave me lying in bed staring at the ceiling for a full hour. The Killing Joke avoids the comic book trope of good vs evil drawn in bright colors, and instead descends into a noir world where the only thing separating Batman from the Joker is a propensity to smile. It’s definitely worth reading.