When the Joker appeared in ‘Detective Comics’ #1 at the beginning of DC’s New 52, I immediately loved their take on the character. Then, they amped things up by having the Joker’s face cut off for the final splash page. Then… nothing. I kept waiting for the Joker to return to the bat-books. It even got so bad that I was becoming irritated at ‘Detective Comics’ for the big teasing opener. What kind of company brings out their big villain, gives a cliffhanger ending, and then does nothing at all with him for over a year? A damn smart one… that’s what kind!
The opening scene to this book would fit right in with any of the best horror movies I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen a LOT of horror movies). The Joker pays a visit to the Gotham City Police Department to retrieve his face and what ensues is one of the most tense few pages I’ve read in a comic in a long while. If it were a movie, it’d be what you call “edge of your seat” entertainment. It’s just that good!
After the opening salvo, the Joker goes on to make a splash in Gotham in a big way. In true Joker style, he has all of the GCPD and the Bat-family on red alert waiting for whatever diabolical scheme he’s come up with this time. But no matter how big you think the Joker’s plan might be, it’s bigger than that… and the final two pages make it seem like the clown might actually pull it off. Even if he doesn’t the Bat-family and Gotham City are in for some seriously troubled times in the aptly titled “Death of the Family”.
As a long-time Batman fan, I’ve read an astounding number of Joker stories that ranged from completely amazing to the totally ridiculous (or worse… forgettable). This one falls firmly in the amazing side of that spectrum and even manages to pay homage to a lot of those classic Joker stories that have come before it, most notably Alan Moore’s ‘The Killing Joke’. If Scott Snyder and the rest of the bat-writers can keep this pace up through the entire “Death of the Family” story arc, ‘Batman’ may jump back to one of my “must read” characters right along-side Dan Slott’s Spider-Man.
It’s so good that it may deserve a re-read or two to take in all of the awesome.
Written by Scott Snyder
Backup Written by Scott Snyder and James T Tynion IV
Art by Greg Capullo and Jonathan Glapion
Backup Art by Jock
Cover by Greg Capullo