Classic Comic Review: Batman Volume 3: Death of the Family

Writer: Scott Snyder; Co-Writer: James Tynion IV; Artist: Greg Capullo & Jock; Inks: Jonathan Glapion; Colorists: Fco Plascencia & Dave Baron; Cover Artists: Greg Capullo & Fco Plascencia; Variant Cover Artists: Aaron Kuder & Nathan Fairbairn / Trevor McCarthy / Alex Garner / Tony Daniel, Batt Mabbing & Tomeu Morey

There is a lot of work that goes into these comics. I’m not sure how many folks pay full attention to it or even realize that it’s quite the task to produce a monthly. It’s even harder to imagine the work which goes into a story like Volume 3 of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s run of Batman. 

I latched onto Batman during Zero Year but heard and read plenty about “Death of the Family.” I was finally able to get my hands on a copy last week so I’ve methodically worked my way through. I actually want to reread “End Game” now that I’ve experienced this arc. A couple scenes already rang even more impactful after knowing the context of seeds planted during this story. Prime example, when Joker returns he says to Gordon, “YESSSS, COMMISH…YES YOU DO HIDE THINGS. LIKE THAT LAST PACK OF SMOKES! THE ONE YOU HIDE IN YOUR APARTMENT IN THAT FINAL HIDING SPOT WHERE BARBARA WON’T LOOK…WHERE NO ONE WILL. UNDER YOUR BED, IN THE WIRE NETTING. (now here it is) SOMETIMES I LIE UNDER THERE AT NIGHT AND LISTEN TO YOU SLEEP….” During “End Game” Joker emerges from under Jim’s bed and attacks him. I thought it was creepy enough in that context of a homicidal maniac clown crawling out from under your bed, but then you add in that he told Jim that he lays under there for the hell of it and it’s just…whoa. 

I’m not going to go point by point through the entire story, but I will talk about some impactful moments for me. 

  • Joker and Batman’s reunion turns into a heartfelt moment for Harley Quinn, who he had dress up in his Red Hood garb. She is scared out of her mind that the Joker is no longer her Joker, and she just wants him back.
  • Batman and the Bat Family have a giant powwow in the Bat Cave.They want to know whether Joker knows their secret identities. Discussion ensues and Bruce is certain the Joker never made the connection between Batman, Bruce Wayne, and Alfred Pennyworth. And he’s right, but it’s not without cost.
  • Notice the flies buzzing around Joker near the end of the story. Is that face deteriorating a little bit?
  • Joker is in everyone’s heads and dividing the family. Or so he thinks. We know nothing can tear apart the Bat Family. Right? Right? They’ve been through so much together and in the end they all look to Batman for leadership.
  • The finale of Death of the Family brings home the impact of the title. While I understand a lot of readers were “upset” or let down because no one dies, I think it really brought home Joker’s mission to alienate Batman from the rest of the heroes. The visuals are wonderful where all of the others aren’t even superheroing when they cancel on Bruce, They’re just chilling out in civies, recuperating in their own ways. 
  • The supplemental story by Snyder, Tynion and Jock adds more depth into the villainous side of the story. We see how Joker assembles parts of his plans with the various other rogues, and it’s always nice to see the likes of the Penguin and Riddler. 

So check out Batman Volume 3: Death of the Family whenever you can. It’s taken me a while to get to it but I am glad I was finally able to read it. Batman. Joker. How can you go wrong, right?

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