In the last issue of Batman, the joker suggested that he knows the names of everyone in the Batman family. He promised that he was going after them all, as well as everyone they care about. This issue picks up from there, and it might be the best issue of “Death of the Family” yet.
This issue kicks off with Batman’s first direct encounter with the Joker of the crossover. There’s a quick yet epic action scene between the cops and the Joker’s men. The next scene is the real heart of the issue though. The Bat family have a meeting about the situation. Even as his sidekicks and allies argue otherwise, Batman continually denies that the Joker could possibly know who they are. It’s this consistent denial that could cost Batman something in the near future, and it increases the tension and drama significantly. The Batman family meeting is where this issue truly shines.
Despite his denial, his detective skills are on full display for the last section of the book. Batman’s investigation is simultaneously the most entertaining and the most forgettable part of the issue. It’s a good bit of build-up, and it’s always fun seeing Batman’s investigation techniques, but it’s the earlier scenes that stick with you. The Backup story about the Joker and the Riddler is good too, but the main story is better.
The art is great. There’s a dark atmospheric effect in nearly every panel – especially with the flashbacks though. When Batman is narrating with his internal thoughts, the art takes over with visual storytelling that further enhances the plot progression.
You should be reading this if you’re a fan of either Batman or the Joker, even if you’ve never read a comic before. It’s dark, it delves deep into the relationship between Batman and the Joker, and it’s fun. Death of the Family is the joker at his finest.