With Batman #17 the Death of the Family story arc, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s second together, comes to a close – was it worth the hype?
The Joker’s game of mouse trap with Batman and the Bat-family all lead up to this issue, the big reveal. What was in each characters dinner platter? What of Alfred? What of Bruce’s identity? And what was the Joker’s endgame?
To Snyder’s credit he delivered the answer to all of these.
By nature of a joke.
(And the characters in the story)
In the 1989 A Death In The Family the Joker literally caused a death IN the family, here – we find out – he wanted to cause the death OF the family. So he tries to dissolve the family’s trust in Batman; he was never going to actually kill anyone. And as the issue ends it seems to have worked.
Did us readers find the joke funny though?
With as much hype as this story arc had it’s understandable for anyone to be a bit disspointed. I mean, at the end it seems like the reward for trucking through these couple of issues was very little at the end. Alfred is ok. The Bat-boys and girl are ok. Bruce is ok. And the Joker is missing. Again. The status quo is ruffled but not beyond some easy repair. Not beyond places these characters have been before. Or so it seems.
On the other hand the joke actually makes sense, and I think it’s at least a little funny. I mean, most of us bought into it right? We actually expected something horrible to happen. And how could we not? Every issue leading up to this one was horrible Joker act after the other, topping himself each time. You could argue that some of the sickest stuff the Joker has ever done happened here in this arc. So by the time Batman finds himself tied up and no where to go, yeah, we expected some sick crap to go down.
Turns out all this sickness was just to setup a punchline; a point the Joker wanted to make, that whatever him and Batman share is more important to Batman than his own family.
(Which made me think of Jason, I wonder if the whole time he sat there thinking, “Yeah…uh…I called him on this years ago.”)
The clues were there all along; that the Joker is just chaos and you can’t quantify him. So to “expect” a certain something from him is kind of foolish. Which is why Batman does what he does, prepares for everything. So, in a way this is good. I mean I didn’t want anyone to die, Alfred especially. But in another way when the joke is on you it always stings, even if just a little. With this much build up I think we all wanted something that would stick, something to add to the mythos, even it was just a little.
Which we got. I hope it didn’t go unnoticed.
At the end Bruce confesses to Alfred that just after taking in Dick he essentially revealed himself to the Joker in Arkham.
This is huge. I honestly don’t think Batman “cares” for the Joker more than his family but Snyder is playing with a big concept here for the character; that there is some magnetic force that keeps Batman orbiting around the Joker and that something proves just how whack this guy really is. Having just adopted a child, with the family father-figure butler at home Bruce walks into Arkham and tells the Joker he found his card. Pretty clearly answering the question of whether or not the Joker knows who Batman is. Now, he doesn’t care, but he knows. And he knows because Bruce told him.
That’s adding to the mythos.
And it’s pretty rewarding. At least to me.
So no one died. Well, no one important anyway (citizens, cops, and inmates don’t count right?). And DC might be exaggerating a little to call this a “unspeakable tragedy” but Snyder wasn’t joking with the level of crazy he reached in this arc and the art team’s work is also anything but a joke. The amount of care and thought that went into this bleeds out everywhere in the pages of this story. In the end I’m not sure it will go down as anything more than a good Joker story but I think most Batman fans enjoy a good Joker story, right? This creative team got the chance to play with the biggest Bat-villain of all time and the story was creepy, twisted, and revealed something warped about Batman that we didn’t know about before. That’s a win to me.
Also, the Joker cleverly getting the last laugh, classic.
A COMIC BOOK BLOG RATING
|A fun battle between Batman and Joker and the flashback was well worth the trek.||Was expecting something a little crazier. Not too bummed I didn’t get it. But a little bummed.|