The “Death of the Family” story arc has set high expectations and raised a ton of speculation about how it would end. The Joker has terrorized the Bat-family and has teased us for weeks about what he will do next. The build-up for the showdown between Batman and the Joker has practically left fans foaming at the mouth wanting to know how this all ends.
The relationship between Batman and the Joker is one of the greatest in all of comic book history and even though so many stories have already been written, this one succeeds at bringing something new to the table. This isn’t a story that dramatically alters the Batman landscape in the same fashion that “The Killing Joke” or “A Death in the Family” did. But it does change the relationship between Batman and the Joker and you get the sense that Batman actually gains the upper hand. The unrelenting game of cat and mouse has historically been in favor of the Joker. For once, Batman actually becomes the antagonist and teases Joker with something he is deathly afraid of.
At the end of the day, the only thing that really changes are the characters but that’s not a bad thing. This issue is clearly a fundamental piece of the Batman mythology and Snyder accomplishes this without blowing up the entire DC universe to do it. This is a feat in itself and a breath of fresh air during a time when comic book companies seem to use the murdering of characters as their only tool to create a high-impact story. Snyder shows that high-impact stories can still just come from good writing and others should definitely take note.
The artwork by Capullo has been fantastic and his style really fits the gritty, horrific tone of the book. Some of the panels are gruesome, some are haunting, but all are beautiful. There are quite a few panels where you find yourself empathizing with the characters or squirming at what might be coming next. It’s hard to imagine any other artist being more of a perfect fit for this arc than Capullo has been.
Batman #17 exemplifies the reasons why fans are so fascinated with the relationship between Batman and the Joker. This issue is an essential one to pick up and you don’t need to have read the previous issues in order to know what’s going on. Definitely a must read for any comic book fan.