Eric: So we got the finale to the Death of the Family storyline, and I’m not going to lie, I was a bit disappointed. The build up to it was fantastic, and the methodology of how the Joker was able to separate himself (thematically) from the other members of Batman’s rogue gallery was great, but the end product seemed a bit lacking.
I can understand that reaction. It’s funny, in the den of hatred that
is 4chan (where the entire comic was scanned nearly two days before
release) the sentiment that jumped out as somewhat reasonable was “this
just restores the status quo”. I tend to disagree with that statement,
however, and really enjoyed the issue. My perspective is that modern
comics depend so much on the “ending” of an arc setting up future issues
and Batman #17 did a fantastic job at that.
But for the most part, the only thing that changed was some hurt
feelings on the side of Batman’s “family,” and we got to see how much
Bruce really trusts his cohorts. While this is a nice sentiment, I don’t
really feel like this is a message that needed the influence of a
deformed villain, such as the Joker, to bring out in the group. The
Joker’s methods seemed like they all hinged on this “gotcha!” moment
with their fake faces in the serving dishes.
That’s where we differ again. I strongly believe Snyder used Joker to
play the trick - or gotcha moment as you refer to it - on all of us.
Just because there isn’t a death doesn’t mean nothing happened. In
particular, the panel where Dick assures Bruce they will be fine without
him is equal parts touching and as serious as it gets. After thinking
their faces were cut off and Joker’s great monologue about how Batman
must not love them if he can’t kill the man who keeps doing these awful
things to them, the unspoken line was: “Prove the Joker wrong. We’ll
understand if you kill him, Batman. Hell, some of us want you to.” Of
course, this sets up Batman’s walk of shame...
How is this any different from anything we’ve seen before? Why Batman
doesn’t kill the Joker has always been put into question, and has had
some very interesting and well thought out answers as well. The Dark
Knight Returns is probably my favorite event involving this, outside of
one of the many “academic” books like Philosophy and Batman,
or something else along those lines. If anything, I feel the end of
this merely served to better point out the frustrations with Batman’s
I can see all of that but I just tend to think this is direction allows
better stories for Batman and - perhaps more importantly - the rest of
the Bat-family. We’ve seen tension between the “kill” and “no kill”
camps but no one showing up to Batmans’ party at the end of issue #17
finally gives it some weight. After Night of the Owls and Death of the
Family, I’m all for breaking up the band a bit and seeing what these
characters (and don’t forget writers!) can do on their own.
Yes, but many are primarily Batman readers, and watching Batman have to
reaffirm his code after an event where he kills Joker makes for a much
more interesting story, in my opinion. Not only did we, the readers,
want to possibly see Batman fail his own ethics, but it was encouraged
with Jason and Barbara, who have their own obvious reasons, as well as
through Damian, who probably has the most practical view on why the
Joker should die. In many cases, I feel Damian is used to personify
underlying criticisms with how Batman operates.
I want to pick up on what you said about Damian. He’s the most likely
to take the direct solution of the bunch. Remember he was introduced in
Batman and Son as the child not only capable of taking down then-Robin
Tim Drake but straight up killing the bad guys. But its his excessive
need for Batman’s approval that drives Batman further towards his
paternal instincts - one of which is setting the example for Damian so
the kid is less of a psychopath. So was it stereotypical or cliche of
Batman to not want to literally show his son killing is fine but only
when daddy does it?
Well, I wouldn’t count taking down Tim Drake as one of the hardest
fights in the Batman Universe. It’s been shown that each of the Robins
is a different aspect of Bruce’s abilities, and Drake has definitely
proven himself the best Robin when it comes to detective work, but not
combat; that lies with Jason.
Michael: Damian was ten years old.
Point aside, I do agree that it was probably best that Batman didn’t
kill the Joker. However, I do think we should have seen him go beyond
his usual stopping point. Also, if Batman was trying to set an example
for Damian -- SAY SO! I feel like that was a missed opportunity there.
Yes, this underlined the importance of what holds them together, but if
what the Joker said wasn’t strong enough to break up their relationship
under his toxin, then what chance did his shared information have at
driving them against each other when they have their wits about them?
Definitely. I could see it being a weaker toxin since the point was
never to kill them. Still, that panel where they were all holding hands
is too Superfriends for my taste. On the Damian/parenting point, I’m not
sure Snyder will ever write that directly. He’s said in a couple
interviews that much of Batman #17 is left open. Something else he’s
said has really stuck with me too. Paraphrasing here but if he just
killed someone in “Death of the Family”, then the entire story becomes
the place that character died. Case in point: How many readers chalk up
“Death in the Family” as the story where Jason Todd got voted off the
living? On the other hand, Batman #17 is full of these little cleavages
for us to work through and that’s why I think its a fantastic issue.
I would say most people view the original “Death in the Family” solely
on Jason Todd’s death. That’s what made it so shocking, as people really
hadn’t seen anything like that before, especially in the Bat-verse.
This time around I feel like Snyder used the events from the previous
version as a selling point to get people excited about another death;
another major impact on Batman’s world like Jason’s death was. Todd’s
death was something that haunted Bruce for a very, very long time. It’s
even directly referenced in The Dark Knight Returns. I think myself, as
well as others, wanted to see another major catalyst in the extensive
maze that is Bruce’s psyche.
The name was misleading for sure but many people started to suspect
this thing was going to end with no one dead - except the metaphorical
family of course. If there is anyone to blame it is the DC hype machine.
Hard to see how anything could live up to the buzz they created. The DC
marketing machine has certainly kicked it into high gear again
regarding this week’s Batman Incorporated #8. I’d stop reading here if I
wanted to avoid spoilers.
with spoilers: So DC encouraged retailers to order more of Batman
Incorporated #8 a few weeks ago. (Funny story, I tripled my order and
won’t get the increased quantities until next week...thanks all
involved!) It didn’t take a Tim Drake to figure out someone was probably
going to end up the deads. This morning, many comic sites spoiled a New
York Post article revealing the death of Damian Wayne. So Snyder gets
what he wants out of Death of the Family and Grant Morrison gets what he
wants in killing off Damian Wayne. I have no problem with this since
Damian is a Morrison creation and he had previously mentioned Damian was
going out in one redemptive act. Fortunately, Morrison realized the
character had a lot more potential than just his four issue miniseries.
“Batman and Son” we’ve seen Damian - and Bruce - grow up and it has
been an amazing journey. For those that don’t know, Damian is the
illegitimate child of Batman and Talia - the daughter of one of Batman’s
greatest adversaries: Ra’s al Ghul. Damian is caught between two
(literally) warring parents. Morrison reveals in the New York Post
article on the issue “It’s
all about the family and the family going to hell,” said Morrison, who
threw in elements of his own parents’ divorce. “The two adults in the
story are both culpable. The kid’s the good guy.”
Look, I’m the first to criticize Morrison when his work becomes a mess
of jumbled timelines and esoteric references, but this? This is great
stuff. Letting us watch Damian’s attempts to win his father’s approval,
witnessing Batman becoming the flawed if well intentioned father and
seeing both of them battle it out against Talia and THEN dropping in
commentary about the culpability of both parents as an allegory for
divorce? I am officially intrigued about this issue and not just because
of a death. Well done, Morrison.
Agree or disagree with either view? Post below!