Batman fans have seen so much of The Joker that you could be forgiven for thinking that Death of the Family, and The Joker’s return to Gotham, is bound to be a letdown. Fortunately, that’s not the case. Just as Snyder has brought a new angle to other pieces of Batman mythos, he does the same again with The Joker.
Death of the Family, review-wise, is a tough one. The title invokes the memory of the now legendary Death in the Family arc, which I’ve written more about on the Best Batman Graphic Novels page. but if you come to Death of the Family expecting an event of a similar magnitude, you’ll be disappointed.
Death of the Family is great because it shows exactly how lethal The Joker can be. Some Batfans and comic book readers have a soft spot for The Joker because they seem him as an anti-hero or a disruptive figure who doesn’t play by the rules. Not this Joker.
In Death of the Family, The Joker is so demented that even Harley Quinn warns Batman that he’s changed. Calculating and cruel, he systematically attacks everyone that matters to Batman under the twisted pretence that he does so for Batman’s own good. Oh, and the homoerotic undertones of The Joker’s desire to be Batman’s only focus are seriously unsettling!
So, we have a Joker at his most unstable*. What else? Scott Snyder’s writing and Greg Capullo’s art continues to impress; the latter has the dark underbelly of Gotham and the Gothic vibe of Arkham down to a tee by now, and the former continues to create stories that you struggle to put down but want to last forever.
The only negative aspect of Death of the Family is that it ends quite abruptly – the ending suggests (correctly, as we’ve since seen with Endgame) that we haven’t seen the last of Joker, but it ends rather suddenly as a result.
*If you’re looking for exactly how The Joker is able to capture the Bat family, you’ll need to check out Joker: Death of the Family too.
There’s a great piece on how well having an event that ties all of the Bat family’s comics together here. I don’t necessarily agree with all of that, but it’s very well thought out.
Anyway, back to this graphic novel. One thing I particularly liked about Death of the Family is Bruce Wayne’s interaction with The Joker. I won’t spoilt it, but suffice to say that it’s a real window into the mindset of The Joker and his relationship with Batman.
Heath Ledger’s Joker is so often touted as the quintessential portrayal of the character that it’s easy to forget there are other ways to play the Clown Prince of Crime.
New 52 Joker is at his most lethal and deranged in Death of the Family, and it’s pretty close to a must-read.
Collects: Batman #13-17
Check out Batman Death of the Family here:
Or, if the Death of the Family Joker mask is a bit much for you, you can grab just the graphic novel here:
Amazon — Forbidden Planet (UK)