Brandon Borzelli's Geek Goggle Reviews
Snyder, Capullo & Glapion
The finale to Death of the Family provides a long look at the relationship between Batman and the Joker. The comic book is eloquently written and beautifully drawn. The arc has been a creepy but fantastic look at a character that seems to lower down to a more deranged level with each creator that takes a pass at him. However, the book is not as tight as Snyder's other comics and definitely has a familiar feeling to it and an ending that leaves a lot be desired. I enjoyed this book immensely, but I'm not sure there is a lot that is new here and that is the disappointment.
The book opens with a drugged Batman waking up to find himself in his cave with the members of his "family" gathered round with bags on their heads. Joker reveals that Batman is strapped to a chair where any movement will ignite the gasoline covering his friends. All this means is the Joker is allowed to preach to Batman and Batman must simply sit and take it.
Joker then reveals that Batman's friends have had their faces wrapped in bandages. It appears that Joker has cut their faces off, much in the way his own face is cut off. Make no mistake that the tension and horrific nature of this story is definitely heart racing in a thrilling way. I'm sure you can guess what occurs next.
Batman finds a way to escape while not hurting his friends and confronts the Joker one on one and this is where the comic book fails to hold my devoted interest.
Snyder relies on the "Batman won't kill" aspect of the character when dealing with the Joker. It becomes the basis for the entire ending and this has been played to death over the years (decades) and simply offers nothing new to explore. The shocking ending to the book simply doesn't show us what Batman or any of his friends have learned from this arc. The characters are simply left exactly where they started and this is also disappointing when dealing with such a large crossover.
Editorially there are several problems as well. To pick this book up the reader simply has no context for how any of the other characters were captured (except perhaps Alfred) or how Joker ended up in the Batcave. Snyder attempts to explain the Joker not caring what Batman's identity is at the end of the book but it doesn't connect the dots. The issue is further complicated because Batman begins to reveal, much to the horror of the Joker, what the Joker's real name is. This coupled with the "Batman doesn't kill" simply doesn't add up to anything. It feels like Batman is just tossing darts blindly to see what sticks. Finally, the primary question of how the Joker (all alone) can subdue the entire Bat-cast is never addressed, even in passing. It makes the Joker appear super powered or the Bat-cast to seem ultimately weak.
Capullo draws some fantastic drama into this book. He manages to present horror on the faces of the characters despite the fact that they are wearing bags on their heads. That's just one example of the amazing story Capullo tells here. It's a brilliant visual comic book.
Batman is simply the best DC title on the stands and it has been this way since the reboot. This particular issue is just as good as all the rest. However, there are elements in the book that made it fall well short of brilliant, which is the category for many of Snyder's Batman issues. A good but not great ending to a very good crossover.
4 out of 5 Geek Goggles