DC Comics releases what is sure to become a top pick for many "Best of" lists when it comes to Batman graphic novels years down the road. "The Joker: Death of the Family" sees the Clown Prince of Crime moving way past his typical violent shenanigans and taking his frenzied insanity to a whole other level. It's a story that can only be told from the pages of multiple Bat-family books across more than one issue in most, if not all, cases.
"The Joker: Death of the Family" is made up from issues of Batman, Detective Comics, Catwoman, Batgirl, Red Hood, Suicide Squad, Teen Titans, Nightwing, and Batman and Robin. The Joker comes to the realization that the Dark Knight's reliance on his many assistants in fighting crime have made him a weaker opponent. In order to restore Batman to his former glory and strength, the Joker plans to eliminate each of the sidekicks and allies the Caped Crusader has used as a crutch for so many years.
There are so many phenomenal writers involved in bringing "The Joker: Death of the Family" to life. They include Scott Snyder, Ann Nocenti, Gail Simone, Adam Glass, Peter J. Tomasi, Kyle Higgins, John Layman, Scott Lobdell, and Fabian Nicieza. Each one shows off their individual talents by weaving their action-packed section of the tale seamlessly into the climax and grand finale.
Artwork is provided by Patrick Gleason, Tomas Giorello, Eddy Barrows, Jason Fabok, and Brett Booth. They each have individual styles and use them without being a distraction to the overall storyline. It gives the graphic novel a sense of variety that actually enhances instead of hindering it although the chapters look visually different.
"The Joker: Death of the Family" is definitely rated PG-13 in terms of movies. There's plenty of violence, adult situations, mild language, and disturbing images. Imagine the Joker on his worst day in Tim Burton's "Batman" or Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight" and multiply it by three.
DC includes some great bonus material in "The Joker: Death of the Family." We get twenty pages of regular, unused, and variant covers for the different titles and issues compiled in the book. Many of the artists who worked on the interiors also designed the covers. There are several suitable to be framed and displayed on the wall of a comic book fan's office or home.
"The Joker: Death of the Family" might not be the mystery tale that shows off how great the Dark Knight Detective's sleuthing abilities are. However, I don't think it was meant to be. This is more of a character study of the Joker and a story highlighting the ends a family will go to in order to protect their own. Each character gets his time in the spotlight, giving their all to fight for each other and their own lives. It's not the "Greatest Batman Story Ever Told," but it comes close.