Batman: Death of the Family- Review

It took only around twelve issues for creative team Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo to craft one of the best modern day “Batman” stories to have hit the stands. The highest rated book after “New 52” began, “Snyder” and “Capullo” began to plot out the second appearance and first full storyline for “The Joker” in the “52” relaunch.

“Snyder,” in talk of this book before its launch in 2013, stated that, “(Death of the Family) will be the first horror undertaking (Greg and I) have done together.” “Scott,” known to be a soft spoken man, was understating that fact- “Death of the Family” is grotesque, creepy, haunting and one of the best “Joker” stories ever told.

Regardless of the “Batman” title ranging from T (teen) to T+ (teen plus,) it can be truly scary how much some teams can get away with in books rated so low. “Death of the Family” pushes the envelope to the maximum level. There were times I asked myself, ‘Can “DC” really print that?’ In this case, however, that’s a good thing.

In “Detective Comics #1,” in 2012, “The Joker” was apprehended by “Batman” before being taken to his prison cell at “Arkham Asylum.” It is here that the true story begins, as the “Joker” then proceeds to have his face sliced off and nailed to the cell wall as a proclamation of freedom to the world, stating that he will one day return for it. From this point on, there is no sign of the “Joker” until a year-and-a-half later.

From here, the story becomes a slowly escalating, horror filled epic, complete with kidnapped butlers, horses on fire and you guessed it, the death of the bat-family with “Joker” proclaiming “Bruce” as “Gotham’s” bat-king and he his royal jester, whose job is solely to keep him at his best, even if it means killing his loved ones to do it.

“Snyder,” who is known for his horror books and creepy tales, such as “American Vampire,” and “Capullo” with his work on the hell-raising “Spawn,” craft a black, gothic city that is both as beautiful to see as it is to read about in its description by the poor souls who live in it. “Joker” is genuinely scary, giving haunting dialogue to match his slowly rotting face with flies constantly buzzing around him.

Both men do a fantastic job of including a wide array of characters for the book, as almost everyone in the city is there at one point or another, and it just makes sense. Nothing feels rushed or forced as every character deserves their place in the book to further the story.

“Capullo” once again delivers one of the best looking “Batmen” in recent history, providing exaggerated faces and anatomy without sacrificing any sense of seriousness that the story demands, which is a lot. This is a dark tale, folks, and not for the faint of heart.

Like most of “Scott Snyder’s” stories, the beginning and middle are so solid that they are alone worth the price of the book alone, but I would feel like a liar not to say that the ending isn’t a bit of a fizzle. With so much chaos that takes place between “Batman,” his family, and the army of baddies “Joker” creates, it seems odd that the final few pages has “Bruce” making “Alfred” some coffee.

Overall, this is one of the most impressive bat-books created in the decade. Regardless of a lackluster ending, the story does shine as a gruesome look into the psyche of “Joker.”

SCORE: 9.8