Posted February 12, 2013 by Mikael Angelo Francisco in Comics


Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Greg Capullo


Every once in a while, we’d get a massive comic book crossover story that has all the makings of a winner.

A story that features beloved characters in legitimately life-threatening circumstances, shrouded in mystery thanks to the machinations of an intelligent and dangerous foe who is completely and murderously insane. A story that promises major developments and heartbreaking casualties, presented in a compelling and brutally efficient manner that creates an unbearable itch that just NEEDS to be scratched by skipping a month and finding out what happens in the next issue.

Sadly, there are also stories that are, well… lackluster. The kind of story that promises everything, but delivers nothing.

Death of the Family is a mix of both, which is a terrible, terrible shame.

Batman #17 is a mess. A part of me strongly believes that editorial mandate got in the way of Scott Snyder getting to tell the REAL ending he wanted to tell. Somehow, I have this feeling that the “tragedy” Snyder wanted to leave in the Bat-books was something more…substantial than “the entire Bat-family has a falling out.” Then again, the title of the story IS Death of the Family. Snyder could have done SO MUCH with this story, but he blew it.

Spoilery questions ahoy: Were you expecting Alfred to be under the Joker’s cloche? Were you expecting something truly horrifying under the cloche – or should I say, cloches – that totally wouldn’t be undone and invalidated in the SAME comic book? Were you looking forward to a no-holds-barred slugfest-cum-battle-of-wits between Batman and the Joker that ends in a conclusive and absolutely not cliche manner? Were you anticipating a logical explanation – or at least, a shocking twist – about whether or not the Joker truly knows Bruce Wayne’s identity? Were you expecting a brilliant ending that totally would NOT hinge on a terrible asspull of a joke involving, of all things, the chemical symbol for the obsolete name of an element?

Well, tough.

Seriously, it’s like Snyder came up with a brilliant first act, added a magnificent second act, and then had no idea how to end his own story. I’ll give him points for managing to creep me out during the middle of the book, though. I thought there was something meaty and appropriately rancid hiding under all the exposition and baffling character actions. I guess I was wrong.

Even Greg Capullo’s pencils here seem stressed and chaotic. And by chaotic, I don’t mean his regular “order in chaos” style that actually combines gruesome and beautiful. I mean “chaotic” as in “what the hell am I looking at” chaotic. Not bad art, but art that feels… rushed? Pressured? Confused? I don’t know.

I had such high hopes for this story. This is just like Dan Slott’s Alpha story in Amazing Spider-Man last year, on a much grander scale.

Hell, Hush was better than this, and that story wasn’t even close to excellent.



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Mikael Angelo Francisco