Okay, so it’s no secret that I’m in love with Scott Snyder & Greg Capullo’s run on Batman. They’ve had a couple of great and grandiose story arcs in 2013, which I’ve certainly enjoyed reading. However, the problem I’ve always had with these overarching stories is that they expand into books that I’m neither currently reading nor interested in reading. For example, the Death of the Family storyline, the most recent Batman arc, spanned over into Nightwing, Batman & Robin, Batgirl, Detective Comics, Catwoman, Suicide Squad, Red Hood & the Outlaws, Teen Titans – way too many titles for me to read, and a little too much for my pocketbook’s sake as well. Well, DC has come up with a brilliant idea – something they executed for the previous Batman arc, Court of Owls, in an ingenious way. How about we take all the individual issues of all the comics where the storyline rests and put those together in a book so readers can get a big picture idea of the storyline as a whole? In The Joker: Death of the Family, that’s exactly what they did, so readers can get a taste of how the Joker’s nefarious plans affected all the members of the Bat-Family. (If you haven’t already seen my review of the individual Batman title for this storyline, Batman: Death of the Family, then spoiler alert: it’s awesome)
Basically, the Joker’s back, he’s come for his face, and he’s hell-bent on killing all the members of Batman’s crime-fighting family, so it’s just Joker and Batman, alone together, naturally. Collecting stories of all the different characters involved is actually really helpful and makes for an enjoyable read, since Joker’s madness extends to all the ends of the Bat-verse. We get to see how he actually captured all of the finest Superheroes in Gotham and what he creepily said to each one of them.
The illustrations are completely different because they are from all different books with different illustrators and inkers. We’ve got Ed Benes, Greg Capullo, Jason Fabok, Rafa Sandoval, Fernando Dagnino, Jock, and many more, so readers are getting a good variety of illustrating and coloring styles. Look, nobody can beat Greg Capullo’s Joker, but I enjoyed seeing and ruminating on other styles and looks. There are some that are very realistic, a few that are more cartoonish, and several that are surrealistic, moody, and very traditional comic book style entries. Not all of the illustrations were my absolute favorites, but I liked getting just a little taste of each one of them in relation to the bigger Batman story. The storyline is very violent, and all of these vignettes reflect this new super mean and super nasty Joker. But the violence is not gratuitous – this is just the new (and if you’re talking to The Joker, improved) him, so readers should be aware of his cruelty. If you’ve read or want to read the Batman: Death of the Family trade (and, really, you should), make sure to include this volume of collected stories to your reading pile. It’s a nice way to see how the Joker’s maniac plan affects everyone in Gotham, and it also gives you a nice excuse to try different books in the DC universe that you might end up adding to your favorites list.
The Joker: Death of the Family
by Scott Snyder, Ann Nocenti, Gail Simone, Adam Glass, Peter J. Tomasi, Kyle Higgins, John Layman, Scott Lobdell, Fabian Nicieza
Art by Greg Capullo, Rafael Sandoval, Jordi Tarrogona, Ed Benes, Daniel Sampere, Fernando Dagnino, Patrick Gleason, Tomas Giorello, Eddy Barrows, Jason Fabok, Brett Booth, Various
DC Comics, 2013