Batman: Death Of The Family


death_of_the_familyThanks to my friendly local public library, I’ve been on a bit of a New 52 kick. Scott Snyder’s Batman: Death Of The Family is a suspenseful collection that pits the Dark Knight against his most sadistic foe–the Joker.

The story is simple; the Joker has returned to Gotham City and is recreating some of his greatest most horrific encounters with Batman. Not only that, but he’s attempting to kill of Batman’s allies. Batman kind of expects that he would go after Batgirl, Red Hood and even Red Robin. But things get taken to another level when the Joker sets his sights on Bruce Wayne’s long-suffering butler Alfred. It’s up to Batman to stop the Joker and save his extended Batfamily.

The conclusion of the story isn’t the most satisfying. One of the plot points is that the Joker has somehow figured out the connection between Batman and Bruce Wayne, to the extent that he knew that a way to get to Batman would be by attacking Alfred and how to access the Batcave (which is presumably still connected to Wayne Manor). This was explained in a flashback at the story with Batman as Bruce Wayne confronting the Joker at the Arkham Asylum over a Joker card that was mysteriously found in the Batcave. That in turn gives away everyone else’s identity. But at the end of the story, it was pretty much stated that the Joker didn’t know any of this information. That part I’m still not clear on.

The other interesting reveal was that Batman does indeed know who the Joker was before be became a sociopath. They didn’t reveal it but I would assume that it would mean that he is connected to some of the more prominent characters in the Bat universe.

Death Of The Family did get my attention and I did enjoy it. I really wish that the big reveals at the end were more concrete and not just spring boards for future stories. If you have any thoughts, please comment because I’m still trying to put it all together.

Red Hood: Lost Days

Former Robin Jason Todd was pretty much known for one thing: dying. This Dick Grayson-replacement didn’t seem to resonate well with fans; they hated him to the point that the majority of fans called a 900 number in 1988 to make sure that he died at the end of the A Death In The Family storyline.

Well, maybe he wasn’t that hated. The final vote on whether he would be killed off was 5343 to 5271. But what made comic readers more upset was how he was brought back from the dead. Violating any sense of scientific (or science fiction) laws of physics, Superboy Prime’s punching his way through the cosmic walls to get back into the DC Universe proper wound up resurrecting Jason Todd. Don’t ask…if you think too much about it, you will be driven mad.

What Judd Winick attempts to do in Red Hood: Lost Days is explain what the newly reborn character has been doing since his resurrection. Jason was discovered and taken in by the League of Assassins; Ra’s al Ghul is intrigued by how he cam back from the dead while his daughter Talia wants to take care of him, as she is a connection to his beloved Batman. After he becomes enraged that Batman never avenged his death, Talia winds up bankrolling his new obsession of training to kill the Batman.

The complexities of this story all revolve around the relationships between these three characters. Talia is obsessively in love with Batman; she took Jason into her custody, as she knows that the revelation that he was alive (and pretty murderous) would destroy Batman. Unfortunately, she has wound up arming and funding Jason’s quest of killing the Batman. Things get weird romantically between Jason and Talia, with the two getting intimate. Apparently obsessing over Batman is an aphrodisiac. Unfortunately, Jason finds out that this budding romance–and all the training Talia is providing–is just meant to be a distraction to sidetrack him from his plan to murder Batman.

But as vengeful minded as Jason is, he literally can’t pull the trigger. There’s a scene where Jason is waiting for Batman to get in the Batmobile so he can detonate a trunk full of explosives. But he just can’t do it. This scene reminds me a lot of when Batman first met Jason years prior, as a kid trying to steal the tires off of the Batmobile. Jason attributes his hesitation to wanting Batman to see who killed him, but really it’s that he can’t bring himself to do it.

By the end, Winnick establishes that Jason’s death and subsequent rebirth have left him pretty emotionally unstable and sets the tone for what the character would do and did in later appearances.

Booster Gold #5

One of the most powerful super hero comics I’ve read over the last few Booster Gold #5. Our time travelling hero goes back in time to the events of Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke, and no matter what Booster tries he can’t save Batgirl. So why is this a great story?

It’s because this is the moment where Booster Gold becomes a serious hero. He won’t accept failure and keeps going back in time to the moment where the Joker fires a crippling bullet through Batgirl’s spine. Ultimately Booster finds out that this event has to happen and that it’s an important part of the history of the universe. He must accept that there is nothing that he can do to fix this.

If you’ve read The Killing Joke, you know that the Joker taking pictures of the original event is an important part of the original story. A later issue of Booster Gold makes reference to his attempt to change history, as Batman (who has possession of the photos) reveals that he knows that Booster attempted to save Batgirl. Batman finally respects Booster.

Unfortunately, the events of Flashpoint and the New 52 rendered this all irrelevant, but its one hell of a story.

Batman vs. Punisher Film Trailer

I know this movie won’t be made anytime soon, but this trailer is awesome. As geeky as it sounds, I would love to see this movie. Batman and Punisher are really two sides of the same coin; the difference is in how far they take things.

This fanmade clip is a variation of the plot of The Dark Knight, with the Punisher praying on the crime lords of Gotham and having to hire the Joker to deal with their problem. Obviously, this is going to get dangerous, bringing Batman into the fold. At the very least, this would be an awesome video game.

So what other non-DC characters do you think should pay the Dark Knight when they take a vacation in beautiful Gotham City?

30 Things I Like About Comics–#25 Batman: The Animated Series

The year 1992 brought us one of the greatest comic book adaptations of all time–Batman: The Animated Series. This cartoon show from Fox pushed the boundaries of what a cartoon show was. It was still kid friendly, but somehow it catered to adults.

Not only was it run on Saturday mornings, it was also broadcast on Sunday nights for a while. Guided by Bruce Timm’s “dark deco” stylings, visually the show looked like it was straight out of the 1940s, complete with Max Fleischer Studios style artwork.When you compared it to other animated television shows, you could clearly see how much time and effort was put into Batman. I remember reading an article in Air (a magazine about on the airbrush as an art tool and a medium) where they went into great deal about how complicated the background paintings were.

But on top of that, each episode was just so brilliantly written. Again, the show certainly did not pander to a juvenile audience. Themes of love and death were regularly featured. The series came across as an an old timey detective show.

It must have did well at this, as the show wound up winning three Emmy awards.

Kevin Conroy’s vocal portrayal of Batman is how I imagine the character. Sorry Christian Bale, but you have nothing on Kevin’s batman.

Kevin’s portrayal of Batman was dark and mysterious, but human. It just worked so well.

Not to mention Mark Hammill’s portrayal of the Joker. The character was maniacal and ridiculous all at the same time. Hammill made some intentionally cheesy and pun-laden dialogue work. He did such a good job in his creation of the character, that every time I read the Joker in a comic book, whether it be a random issue or a significant book like The Killing Joke, I hear his voice.

For trivia buffs, Batman: The Animated Series also created the Harley Quinn and Renee Montoya characters into the DC Universe. After debuting on the television show, the two later crossed over into the comic book universe.

Harley was pretty much the same–a maniacal clown with an unconditional love and loyalty for the Joker. Renee evolved much more as a character, with her sexuality being explored and her taking over the role as the Question.

So what did you think of the show?