Review: Batman Vol. 3: Death Of The Family

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bat coverToday sees the release of Batman Vol. 3: Death of the Family, the story that sees the return of The Joker after being in hiding for over a year after his face was sliced off. The story is written by Scott Snyder with art by Greg Capullo. James Tynion IV serves as the co-writer and Jonathan Glapion and Jock provided additional art for the backups. FCO Plascencia and Dave Baron handles colors. Richard Starkings, Jimmy Betancourt, Sal Cipriano, and Taylor Esposito round out the cast with lettering. The volume collects Batman issues #13-17 along with the backup stories in each of the issues. I’ll assume you read the story or kept up with it online, but I’ll keep spoilers to a minimum regardless. So is the collected edition worth picking up?

It was slightly over a year ago when Batman last saw the Joker. He had his face sliced off by the Dollmaker. Since then no one has seen the clown prince of crime. Things are weird in Gotham. Rain and melting snow flooded the Gotham River, causing it to flow in reverse for three full days. A lion at the Gotham Zoo gave birth to a cub with two heads. One night Joker decides to return and attack the Gotham Police department. He’s laying out an invitation for Batman. He’s throwing his king, Batman, a party and he wants to make sure he’s there. The Joker is coming after each and every member of the Bat Family until he can prove that they’re making Batman weak and distracting him from his true love, Joker. Batman is pushed to his limits like never before and even his best may not be good enough. Can anyone make it out alive when Joker decides to show his love for the Bat?

Snyder crafts an absolutely stunning story. I read this monthly as it unfolded, but you gain a new appreciation for it when you read it all in one setting. The story is truly horrifying. The scene in the first issue where Joker attacks Gotham PD is absolutely scary. You get to really see how scary Joker is and how he transcends being a criminal and becomes a force of chaotic nature. Snyder really plays up the kingly connections and shows you how Joker is the most loyal subject of all. The story benefits greatly by being released at the end of October. It’s deep, deep stuff that explores the emotions and relationships of Batman, but it’s a great thriller as well. Capullo’s art is just as fantastic. He’s killing it in Zero Year, but this may be his best work yet. The Joker’s face rots throughout the story. The character work is stellar and the Bat family has never looked better. Snyder’s words are good, but many times I found myself taking a few minutes to stare at Capullo’s work. The double-page spread of Batman’s throne room makes the list for my personal all-time greatest comic book scenes. Plascencia’s colors are phenomenal. They really elevate Capullo’s work. The back up stories really flesh out the characters as well.

Bottom Line: If you missed Death of the Family the first time around, shame on you, but correct that now by picking up the trade. There’s been a lot of talk about the finale and whether or not it’s a copout or a misdirect, but it worked for me and really paid off with the metaphors and tones Snyder set up in the beginning. There’s a few extras like cover galleries and some sketches if you read it monthly, but this is one of the better packaged, bound, and collected trades I’ve seen in some time.  5/5

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