Note: Do NOT read The Joker: Death of the Family until you have already finished Batman, Vol. 3: Death of the Family, which goes on sale October 30th.
When the New 52 began in September of 2011, one of the first stories to really grab headlines was Tony Daniel’s Detective Comics #1. That comic featured a shocking ending in which Joker had his face sliced off by another villain and then pinned to a wall. Now faceless, the Joker vanished from Gotham without a trace and was never heard from again until after the events of Night of the Owls. Joker’s horrifying return came in 2012 in Scott Snyder & Greg Capullo’s Batman #13 and it would end with the controversial Batman #17. However, that wasn’t the full story.
The 5-part saga called “Death of the Family” was needlessly bloated by a crossover event that involved every other bat-title except for Batwoman and Batwing. The hardback graphic novel you see here, The Joker: Death of the Family, is a collection of those tie-in issues plus Snyder and Capullo’s Batman #17 and a brief excerpt from the final pages of Batman #13. The catalyst for all of these events, Detective Comics #1, is not included (just showing those closing pages followed with a “3 months later” or whatever would have done wonders) nor are the other key chapters of the core Death of the Family tale and their absence gives this book a rather incomplete feeling. It’s a collection that serves more as supplemental material for readers who already own Batman, Vol. 3 than an interesting, well-orchestrated tale spanning multiple titles.
The great flaw in Joker: Death of the Family is piecing all of these chapters together. There’s absolutely no way that the Joker could be in all of these places at one time and some of his targets, such as Catwoman, make no sense in the grand scheme of his plan (detailed in Batman #14, which is NOT included). There’s no hint of a chronological order to this bundle of short stories except for the final two chapters which are comprised of the finale by Snyder & Capullo followed by the dream-sequence epilogue from Tomasi & Gleason’s Batman and Robin series. Worst of all, many of these tie-ins were executed in exactly the same way. Time and time again you’ll get a chapter in which Joker somehow appears out of nowhere to capture our hero and then monologue at length for several pages. It becomes tedious. There are a few gems here and there like Batgirl or Nightwing, but for the most part the collection falls flat. Death of the Family is a great Joker story when viewed as a 5-part saga from the Batman title, but as an epic crossover event it’s a mess.
The Joker: Death of the Family includes the following comics (each title links to a full review of that specific chapter):
- Detective Comics #16 Recommended: Yes
- Detective Comics #17 Recommended: Yes
- Catwoman #13 Recommended: No
- Catwoman #14 Recommended: No
- Suicide Squad #14 Recommended: No
- Final pages from Batman #13 + back-up story Recommended: Wouldn’t you rather read the entire comic?
- Suicide Squad #15 Recommended: No
- Batgirl #14 Recommended: Yes
- Batgirl #15 Recommended: Yes
- Batgirl #16 Recommended: No
- Red Hood #15 Recommended: No
- Red Hood #16 Recommended: No
- Teen Titans #15 Recommended: No
- Teen Titans #16 Recommended: No
- Nightwing #15 Recommended: Yes
- Nightwing #16 Recommended: Yes
- Batman and Robin #15 Recommended: Yes
- Batman and Robin #16 Recommended: No
- Batman #17 Recommended: Yes
- Batman and Robin #17 Recommended: Yes
There is a cover gallery, but that’s it.
Value: Sale Price
I would recommend just reading Batman, Vol. 3: Death of the Family alone, but if you’re a completionist and desperately want every chapter good or bad then I suggest you wait for this $30 book to go on clearance. The best bits are the ones that are already collected in Batman, Vol. 3: Death of the Family and the other good reads are few and far between. I don’t think this has a high re-read value and you’re better off just purchasing the graphic novels of the titles you actually enjoy. Otherwise you’ll simply find yourself skimming through most of this one.
This could serve as some decent supplemental material to your copy of Batman, Vol. 3: Death of the Family, but I personally found the crossover event to do more harm than good to Snyder & Capullo’s Joker story. Most of the creators who tried to contribute to the tale with their own unique tie-in didn’t bring their A-game and as a result the majority of the stories collected here have very little entertainment value.