Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo
Death of the Family Crossover
Spoiler alert! You have been warned!
Here it is. The moment we’ve all been waiting for. The finale of the epic Death of the Family blockbuster event. And let me start off by saying that this issue is missing quite a few things. There’s no backup story by James Tynion IV and Jock. There’s no earth-shattering revelation that changes things in the DC Universe forever. There’s no bloodshed or bloodbath of really any kind, actually. But that doesn’t mean that nothing happens in this finale. Saying that would be about as far from the truth as humanly possible. I mean, think about it. It’s Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, arguably the best writer and artist team a Batman book has seen since Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli, which, I would like to point out, wrote Batman: Year One the year I was born, so a) I regard it as one of (if not the) best Batman stories ever written and b) I consider it my own origin tale, at least as far as being a reader and lifelong Bat fan are concerned. So, needless to say, the fact that this storyline and its finale are even ranked that high on my list should say something.
So now that you’ve recovered from the shock of my horrifically misleading opening to this review, sit back and let me go over what happens and why it’s great. We start off with a bang as we are presented immediately with the Joker’s punch line: a bound, hooded, and gagged Batman family dinner. Now, I have to admit, the dialogue and pictures make this book a thing of beauty (and horror), so I just know that I could write a page on every single frame and it would be borderline impossible for me to choose just one, or two, or even fifty of my favorite lines, so I’ll spare you those details and just tell you that if you’re not planning on reading this issue, you should just stop reading Batman comics altogether.
The Joker’s twisted revenge is thankfully revealed to be a big joke, and even though the imagery of the detached faces of Jason, Barbara, Damian, Tim, and Dick sitting in individual platters full of ice is beyond disturbing, I immediately knew that this not only had to be a trick, but that DC wouldn’t let Joker kill or ruin the entire family… Would they? So when Batman jumped up, did his awesome escape and save moves that he’s so famous for always knowing how to do, no matter the challenge, I wasn’t really all that surprised to see that it was just a trick and a way for him to have to chase after Joker and separate himself from the rest of the family.
Now, when the gross cat thing literally exploded after he left them alone? That shocked me. And the fact that it led to the team being Jokerized and fighting each other (which we knew was coming all along if we took these last few months of covers as anything other than metaphorical) was just a great way to have a fight without having the one that we all wanted. And by that, of course, I mean the final confrontation between Batman and the Joker. I personally enjoyed the fact that there wasn’t an actual fight. I also enjoyed the fact that Batman finally admitted that he’s not only going to play the Joker’s sick and twisted games, but he’s going to beat him at them. Again, I wouldn’t be able to do the script justice, so I’ll just say that you need to read it. Just know that even though the family fighting each other is sort of in the background and the fact that Alfred is in fact the one that saves them all and stops them from ripping one another to pieces, it is still going to have ramifications. But nothing compared to what the Joker really did to them. What he claims to have told them all, privately, after capturing each one in his or her own respective monthly title.
And that leads me to one of my two favorite scenes in the issue: The first of two epilogues, wherein Batman tells a healing Alfred that he knew the Joker was full of shit all along. He knew that he not only didn’t know who he was, but that he was mentally incapable of ever knowing. It would ruin his fun. The beauty of this scene is that it is only two pages, but a lesser creative team would have spent an entire issue to tell this tale. But quite possibly my favorite part of this entire issue, maybe even the whole crossover are the final pages, where we see the entire family making excuses and blowing Batman off, one by one, when he calls for a family meeting.
The one person who actually decides to talk to Bruce is Dick, the prodigal son, the original Boy Wonder. But Bruce jumps the gun and tells him that he doesn’t have to come, so he just goes with it and neglects to even mention that he’s right outside the gates of Wayne Manor. What did Joker tell each of the family members? And even though Snyder and Capullo didn’t actually kill anyone (excluding all of the inmates, guards, cops, and politicians, of course), will this spell the end for the family? After all, the title of the storyline was not death “in” the family. It was the death “of” the family. Only time will tell, and I hope it’s this creative team that takes us down that dark and dangerous path once the Clown Prince of Crime makes his terrifying and inevitable return.
My Rating: 5/5