Death of the Family has been a rather brutal crossover. Each side series had Batman’s allies having their own struggle against the Joker, while Batman had an epic fight that spawned the police station, Arkham Asylum and several other locations around Gotham City. The joker had clearly been planning this night for a long time, and now we’ve finally reached the conclusion. So how did it turn out?
The real focus of this issue is the Joker himself, more so than any member of Batman’s family of vigilantes. His plan remains just as twisted as it has throughout DOTF, while simultaneously showing pieces of his prankster side. His antics lead to several big twists in this issue, and they play with the readers’ minds very well.
In some ways the conclusion feels slightly anti-climactic, yet oddly enough it’s still satisfying. It’s also slightly confusing, and you might have to read the ending over a few times to understand exactly what happened to the Joker and the Bat family. It’s dramatically effective when it hints at how each of Batman’s sidekicks feel emotionally drained, yet don’t want to admit it. There are further consequences, but I won’t spoil them.
The art in this issue is also very good. The environmental detail in the cave is impressive toward the end. There’s plenty of storytelling through character expressions, foreground and even backgrounds at times. You might have to look over the Joker’s final pages a few times to see exactly what happened, but that’s not necessarily a problem.
This is more of a question than a complaint, but how exactly can the Joker pronounce B’s, P’s and M’s without his lips functioning anymore? He seems to use all three of those letters a lot in this comic, and plenty more throughout the crossover, and yet the only thing he can properly close is his jaw. Just something that popped into my mind as I was writing this review.
It’s not a perfect conclusion, but Batman 17 does a great job with the Joker as a villain and as a character. This is an easy recommendation for fans of Batman, the Joker, or regular readers of any of the bat books that tied into this crossover.