This past week the finale of Scott Snyder’s and Greg Capullo’s Batman: Death of the Family was released. When I thought the tension couldn’t be cranked up any higher, it was. There were some feints as to what the Joker’s ultimate plan was, and what he’d done to the Bat-family, psyching out the readers, but what he did in the end was much worse. Issue #16 ended with Batman being knocked unconscious and captured by the Joker. This issue opened with Batman, and his family tired to chairs around a table in the Batcave. (His family included Nigthwing – Dick Grayson – 1st Robin, Red Hood – Jason Todd – second Robin, Red Robin – Tim Drake – third Robin, Damian Wayne – current Robin, and Batgirl – Barbara Gordon). All of the bat-family had their heads covered in black hoods, doused in gasoline. If Batman tried to leave the flint under his chair would ignite them. The Joker brought out Alfred, under the control of Joker toxin, who removed the shrouds uncovering all of their faces covered in bloody bandages, only showing their eyes. Then, the lids from the plates in front of them were lifted, showing their faces, cut off like the Jokers.
A quick scuffle and Batman escapes, but not before making his point, that Batman loves the Joker more than his family. He used Batman’s logic against him, saying Batman’s excuse for never killing the Joker (slippery slope) was just that, an excuse.
“I’ll bet you’ve said it to them these past few days, haven’t you? ‘You don’t understand him.’ Sure you have…”
We see the Bat-family’s faces haven’t been removed, just numbed to toy with them. After Batman ran after the Joker, the family was hit with a toxin, turning them all against each other. Batman caught up to Joker, and told him he finally figured out who he was. Before Batman could reveal it, Joker jumped over a waterfall in the cave, disappearing. The family overcame the toxin and stopped fighting.
The next day Bruce was taking care of Alfred. He told him all those years ago when the Joker got into the cave he went to the Asylum to see him, as Bruce Wayne. After creating a distraction,he went to his cell. He showed the joker card left in the cave, saying “I found this. I think it belongs to you.” Bruce explained the Joker looked at him, not seeing the card or him. Then he knew, Joker never cared who was beneath the mask and never would. It would ruin his fun. Bruce goes on to say the reason he doesn’t kill the Joker is true, but more so, he’s afraid the city would create something worse than the Joker for him to fight, or even send him back but worse than before. The family was due to arrive so they could discuss what happened. We see in a few panels them texting Bruce, lying as to why they couldn’t make it, or ignoring him completely. Now they don’t trust Bruce, the family is dead.
I don’t know what is creepier, how the Joker actually succeeded in killing the family, or that he was right about Batman. Some people were upset that no one died in this story, which I don’t understand. The writer said in interviews that if he killed someone that it would define the story, instead of what it was really about; the Joker winning. I don’t think the Joker has had a victory like this since he paralyzed Barbara Gordon all those years ago.
What’s your favorite Batman story? What else should we discuss? Comment or tweet!