Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Wednesday Comics: Batman Death of the the Family

The Joker returned to turn Batman's world upside down.

That was the theme of the Bat-Family crossover "Death of the Family."  The title is a not-so-subtle nod to the shocking "Death in the Family" where the Joker murdered Robin II, Jason Todd.

In the new DC 52, the Joker has been mostly absent.  In the first issue of Detective Comics, he had his face cut off and then he disappeared.  But when he finally did resurface in the pages of Batman, he has his old face sewn onto his body as he wreaks horrific havoc on those Batman loves.

In the first issue of the crossover, the lights go off in Gotham Central and the Joker kills the cops there one by one as Jim Gordon listens powerless to stop him.  While this is creepy and effective, it turns the Joker almost into a supernatural boogeyman than the psychotic killer that he is.  Both are scary, but the Joker is one and not the other.  The Joker then targets all of the members of Batman's inner circle.

This of course leads to a crossover in Batman, Detective Comics, Batman and Robin, Nightwing, Teen Titans, Catwoman, Batgirl, Suicide Squad, and Red Hood and the Outlaws.  And this is the series main problem.  It has a bad case of cross-over-itis.  This would have been a much better and more effective story if it had been half as long.  But the incessant need to pull in the other books weighs down the narrative and makes it drag.  By the time I got to the end, I was simply waiting for it to be over.

Scott Snyder has been the mastermind behind this story and he does a decent job in the stories he writes, but he and the editorial staff were unable to deliver on the story's potential.

And the build-up promised an epic finally, which it did not deliver.  Again, the story was not bad, but it felt bled out of its potential by including too many story elements in different books.  With the Joker's absence for the past year, his return should have brought with it more consequence.  But the Bat-world feels like it will keep on turning pretty much the same now than when it started.

3 out of 5 stars.

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