Batman: Death of the Family Issue 17

Death of the Family

It happened a lot sooner than I anticipated. The story didn’t get off to a good start and apart from some decent issues, the Secret Invasion story line has just burned me out. On top of that I think the opportunity to fully dig deep into my comic collection and find some gems I may have over looked was too appealing a thought than sticking with a story that I was fast losing interest in. Fact is, I am doing this for fun. Why make this a chore?

So thanks to Batman day coming up tomorrow, I took advantage of a sale on Comixology and purchased the Death of the Family story. One of the greatest villains created in the 20th century was The Joker. There’s so much you can do with that character, from the silliness of Caesar Romero’s version on the 1960’s Batman to Jack Nicholson’s demented glee in Tim Burton’s only good movie Batman. I had heard some good reviews of this story and thought I would give it a quick read.

The Good:

The Death of the Family story is best read as a whole. Think of it like a puzzle. Take a piece away and the puzzle is not complete. This piece of the puzzle is the grand finale of a story that will go down as a Joker classic. The various men (and boy) where were Robin as well as Batgirl and Alfred have been kidnapped by The Joker. Batman is tied up at a table and wakes up seeing them tied to chairs with bandages on their faces. The Joker makes Batman believe that he has removed their faces, going so far as to show Batman fake faces in serving platters.

To say The Joker is demented in this story is putting it lightly. What the writer Scott Snyder did so well was still inject humor in what he did. In an earlier issue The Joker was forcing guards at Arkham Asylum to carry a horse to a room in the asylum. They drop the horse and it traps one of the guards. Like a child, The Joker says that the horsie is ruined and shoots the horse. Then he said the trapped guard is ruined too and shoots him in the face. The way the art and the words compliment each other makes a scene that, in someone else’s hands may come off as scary, come across as disturbingly funny.

This issue is, in a weird way, a love letter from The Joker to Batman. The Joker sees the times he shares with Batman as fun. He loves their tangles. Everything about their time together just keeps the never ending smile on his face. The over all story was a great way to touch upon previous Joker adventures but with a twist which was nice to see. The nostalgia was used to great effect as well as being used as an actual way to move the story forward and not just a cheap trick in order to falsely keep your interest. One thing that I could see being a problem for a writer of established characters like this is the fact that after 75 years, what could you possibly do different that hasn’t already been done to death yet? Especially with a story like a comic, unless you come to a point where one of the characters dies and dies for good, you will find yourself repeating what others have done before. It’s inevitable. So for the writers here to turn the table a bit and rehash some older Joker stories all the while turning the story on its ear is great.

The art is some of the best artwork I have seen. Very well done. The Joker at this point had his face voluntarily removed and it is pretty much stapled to his face at this point yet thanks to a perfect marriage of words and art, you still get the idea that The Joker absolutely loves everything he is doing. He is batshit insane, no question about it. He gets pissed at times and like a child will throw a tantrum, albeit a deadly one. But The Joker is pure ID. He does what he wants when he wants. Through his mannerisms and facial expressions you can almost see him do his best to try and get Batman to join him in his insanity. This is work that you will not soon forget.

The Bad:

Not really much to say bad about the story apart from the ending. Now the obviously bad thing is the fact that the story ended. You want it to go on. But some may not see that as a bad thing.

One thing I didn’t care for was the way the ending just sort of happened. It’s like you’re traveling in a car at 90 miles an hour than suddenly you hit the breaks and your trip is at an end. Especially with some of the supporting characters going through something that I would think would be traumatic as fuck but it just ends where everyone goes their separate ways, la la la. I would have liked a little more explanation into how they dealt with the experience.

Bottom Line:

If you are a fan of The Joker, you need to read Death of the Family. This is just required reading folks, no two ways about it. While it does have some very minor flaws, overall the story is an instant classic. I give it a 10 overall. The art and words compliment each other in such a way that you don’t see too often.

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