In Death of the Family it feels that, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Joker story is, simply put, an opera.
High stakes, high emotion. BIG moments. Beautiful. And really frackin’ scary. There’s a chill that’s run through both this issue, and the prior issue… the stories prelude, though it certainly had its fair share of scares. It's why I knew I had to read this issue immediately, and why my fellow reviewer Fred was so kind to give me the chance! I have a feeling the Bat books will be in her hands after this, so I'll make this good.
With issue number fourteen, you can tell that Scott Snyder is excited to tell this story, simply by the pure wordage at play. Snyder writes like a man possessed, lending the book a practically Bendis-ian effort, while never padding the issue simply to make things feel important, or to simply buy time until the next splash page. There are beautiful/horrifying splashes, and there are story points that go all the way to Bob Kane and Bill Finger. Jokers M.O. since returning? Fun house mirror set-ups on the classic confrontations between him and the Batman… except this time he’s used the year saving face (ahahaha), and thinking far ahead of our Dark Knight Detective.
It’s an interesting direction taken with the Joker, who could be said to be the O.G. model for Deadpool… he’s the psychotic comic relief who sees all the strings of the story, and he’s ready to exploit them. In that effect, it’s not used as a gimmick, but as a true character motive. The Joker has been through this before, and he’s back to prove to Batman that what he was REALLY missing was a bit of quality time with the man that kept him sharpest.
Artistically, let me say, as I believe I’ve been very hyperbolic on Scott Snyder’s prose, that Greg Capullo’s Joker has never been smarter or scarier from a design point. The Joe’s Garage outfit is an inspired choice of wears, plain to the point of highlighting Greg Capullo’s work on the new look Joker's rotten skin on scabbed-over flesh, with the meat hook smile being the cherry on top. And now I’ve ruined cherries for you, the reader. Apologies.
Since Snyder and Capullo grabbed our attention with the opening Owl storyline, they've shown their mastery of making Batman look ugly, and finding the horror in our Gothic hero's adventure. He even spends a fair share of this issue looking decidedly ragged.
So of course Joker is this team’s perfect villain.
Though this issue, is much more verbose then the last, there's an amazing joy taken in the color and the shape of the Clown King of Chaos.
The "reveal"? Uh, woah. It gives the Joker/Batman relationship an added weight, and fits into this new Joker’s added preparedness. He’s pulling more strings so that this machine can cause as much chaos as possible. And with what he finds out? Considering what he already did to Alfred after the last issue, well that’s something terrifying for the character.
We’re left wondering who won’t make it out of this alive. If the Court of Owls revealed Bruce Wayne’s long lost brother, then Death of the Family will certainly live up to its name. Especially if the momentum of the story's opening salvo, and the pure energy coming across from Greg and Scott’s enjoyment of creating the story, continues. So if you haven't been reading Snyder's Batman, then first I have a few great trades for you to pick up and second... there are a number of awesome issues as well!