Note: the star review is for issue 17 only.
The conclusion to "Death Of the Family" has arrived. How did we get here? Didn't you read any of the prior reviews? Oh, well. Joker has taken all the members of the Bat Family captive. Those members are Alfred Pennyworth, Dick Grayson (Nightwing), Barbara Gordon (Batgirl), Jason Todd (Red Hood), Tim Drake (Red Robin), Damian Wayne (Robin), and the Batman himself, Bruce Wayne. Joker's motive has been to eliminate Batman's partners in crime fighting, claiming that they make him weak and less than he should be. There have been so many questions. Since Alfred's abduction all the way back in Batman #13, we have been wondering what has happened to him. How did Joker know the secret identities of everyone? What is written in his little book? And, of course, what's under those serving tray domes?
With the massive undertaking that was this event, there was bound to be some degree of disappointment. The previous two issues of Batman were the best in years, flawless. The way writer Scott Snyder took the proverbial train off the rails at full speed made Batman readers' hearts skip like they hadn't since 'Hush', just over a decade ago. This was shaping up to be a story for all ages. But Joker wasn't going to get his payoff and, really, neither do fans.
The anticipation was monumental. The beginning of this last issue continued to tease until the two-for-one reveals of Alfred's fate and what Joker brought Batman for dinner. With the rest of the Bat Family silent, the back and forth between these two arch nemeses wasn't much more than a rehash of what we'd already read in prior issues. Joker loves Batman and, he believes, that sentiment is reciprocated. It isn't enough that Snyder repeats himself a bit but this conversation echoes The Dark Knight Returns. It is only at the conclusion of their "dance" that the detective gets under the loose skin of his greatest enemy with the promise of another reveal, only to later realize that it never existed. The greater solace to take is that, with no back-up story, you get a full 30 pages of Greg Capullo's transcendent work. Even if the story isn't all-time great, the art undoubtedly is.
The aftermath of "Death Of the Family" does gives some interesting tidbits but it is difficult to see that this grand encounter, horrifying as it was, will have any kind of lasting impact on the landscape in Gotham. Only Nightwing seems to act in a matter that his situation has changed. Time will tell. Perhaps what has transpired will have some greater meaning, eventually. Right now, it all rings a bit hollow.