With the conclusion of Scott Snyder’s Death of the Family story arc earlier this week, some fans of the Caped Crusader have reasonably felt a bit underwhelmed. But while Batman’s latest story lacks theatrics, the subtler approach should set up future renditions nicely.
For those who haven’t been following the storyline, the Joker’s latest plan to destroy his nemesis involved kidnapping the billionaire’s “family.” With the lives of Nightwing, two Robins, Batgirl, and Alfred on the line, the stakes were reasonably high.
Fans anticipated a dramatic end, but there are no deaths, no secret identities exposed and, at least initially, no long-term reverberations.
This is understandably problematic because it doesn’t bring any grandeur. Also, a visual medium such as comics isn’t necessarily conducive to psychological lamentations and perhaps even demands some graphic portrayals.
Snyder, however, argues that the story is about “the psychological and emotional death and that notion that the Joker wins — as much as he loses, he also wins — and gets the last laugh by essentially putting a wedge between Bruce and the family.”
The theatrics, Snyder says, “would detract and distract from the core of what this story was about.”
While that may leave fans somewhat wanting, the future still looks compelling because, according to the writer, the Joker has essentially convinced Wayne’s family, “Deep down Batman only wants to fight with me alone; he loves me more than you.”
Because this is all largely emotional, lacking any gruesome deaths or mutilations, this issue is perhaps the polar opposite of The Killing Joke, one of the definitive graphic novels based on the character.
However, by emphasizing Joker’s obsession with Batman’s psyche, this latest tale still succeeds in achieving the same desired result, which is to forever change how Batman will approach his battles with the Clown Prince of Crime.
Of course, since this is Batman, one has to wonder whether creating emotional distance is a wise or significant creative choice. With Bruce Wayne, isolation is already a central part of the character so, unless the writers can capitalize well, the loss of an ally or two may just be a footnote in his legacy.
Death of the Family has effectively proven to be a promise of things to come. Snyder has asked fans to wait a few more weeks for a big announcement, claiming that issue #21 is going to be “our most ambitious thing.”
The premise, that Joker has found a deep-seated crack in Batman’s armor, is an interesting on Whether the writers can utilize it in memorable fashion remains to be seen.