Death of the Family Review: Batman #14 by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo

Review:  Batman #14

Published by DC Comics

Written by Scott Snyder (and James Tynion IV)

Art by Greg Capullo (and Jock)

The Plot

This issue opens up Batman in the predicament that Harley left him in the previous issue.  Harley is still distraught over what the Joker has become and leaves Batman to his own devices.  Batman manages to find a way out of the situation while remembering some important information about the Joker’s origins.  He returns home to find that Alfred has been abducted by the Joker.  Distraught he goes to Commissioner Gordon who is at home, still scared about the previous events at the police station.  Batman wants to take him out of the game because he believes that he’s going to be the next target.  However, Batman discovers that events have already been set in motion, which places Gordon’s life in jeopardy.  Batman and Nightwing have a conversation about recent events and decide on a course of action.  Batman deduces where the Joker will now be and they meet at a familiar location.  Unfortunately, Batman discovers that he’s already too late and the Joker reveals his plan and other vital information to him.

The back-up story deals with the Penguin who is going to meet with the heads of other crime families at a church.  Upon his arrival, he finds nothing but a massacre and then his men are killed in front of him by a familiar means.  The Joker confronts the Penguin and tells him what his role is in Gotham.  The Joker then coerces Penguin to help him with his mission.

The Breakdown

I was really looking forward to this issue and damn if I was not disappointed.  Batman recalling what made the Joker into what he became was interesting.  Indeed, the Joker has always been in Batman’s head since he has always been trying to determine what went wrong with him.  The emotion shown by Batman/Bruce was very effective as he was genuinely worried about Alfred’s wellbeing.  In fact, it rattled Batman so much that perhaps he should have heeded his own advice that he provided to Nightwing.  The Joker communicating through a cassette tape…awesome! I like how the relationships between the characters are part of the focus during these major arcs.  I always enjoy Batman’s discussions with Nightwing because it just shows how much trust he has in him.  Also, Nightwing is one of the only people that can question Batman to his face and provide his own insight.  As usual, Batman tries to act in a way meant to protect everyone else and Nightwing is always quick to give others the benefit of the doubt.  Batman is a genius, but he still faces emotional and mental obstacles and I like how Nightwing’s presence and viewpoint really helps drive that home to the reader.  Once again, the scenes with Gordon really helped to push the story forward.  He is so paranoid and afraid and he provides some really good statements on the Joker.  As scared as he is though, he is still willing to step up and face the Joker.  He’s really taking a sh** kicking so far in this arc.  His scene really helped to continue establishing the dark atmosphere.  I am really enjoying the Joker in this arc and he really is vicious this time around.  Capullo makes him look so maniacal and creepy.  The Court of Owls was a genuine threat to Gotham City yet the Joker deems them to be beneath Batman (and himself). Last review I mentioned that the Joker had a lot of time to plan ahead.  Well that became pretty apparent this issue as he set his plans into motion with ease (and he also used an old school gadget during this scene as well).  The Joker’s revelation as well as the final panel has me extremely excited for the next issue.  I don’t get the feeling that he’s joking around (pun not intended) and that he actually has the means to make good on his threats.  Capullo provided another solid issue and his storytelling was great.  I like how he is drawing his facial expressions as some of them have more detail that I didn’t expect.  I did not think that he was capable of doing this kind of work as I used to think his art wasn’t capable of providing much depth.  His work on this book has shown a lot of progression as an artist on his part.  The back-up story had a good encounter between the Joker and Penguin.  Everyone else has been scared of facing the Joker up to this point, but Penguin just didn’t seem to be too fazed by him.  I thought this was a nice touch.  I like how the back-up stories have been used to help illustrate some of the behind-the-scenes planning by the Joker as he finds accomplices.  Also, having Jock provide the art for the back-up was a bonus.  The colours really made the Joker seem even more evil (as if that was possible).  Damn this comic has been good.

BUT…

When Batman was going over the chemical compound at the beginning and came to a strong conclusion about what it provided was effective at making the Joker special.  However, this was kind of soured in my head when it was revealed in Suicide Squad (7?) that Harley underwent a similar process.  Even though that didn’t have anything to do with the main Batman title, it still took away from a fairly cool Batman/Joker moment early in the book.

Buy It, Borrow It, Shelf Read It, or Ignore It?

This is a no-brainer, buy it.  I’m really liking how the immediate danger has shifted away from Batman this arc.  Last arc he was the target and now he’s still the target, but in a different way.  He’s still in trouble and this arc doesn’t feel like a repeat of the level of danger that Batman is in.  This time I don’t see how he’s going to take the offensive and I like how I don’t know what’s going to happen.  Snyder does a great job of putting over the Joker as such a formidable foe for everyone in Gotham.  I’d love to see the Joker versus the Court of Owls.  He has such little regard for them and I’d like to see how they’d handle each other as they both have their claws in Gotham.  This arc is going to have some sort of repercussions and I’m really anxious to see who’s left standing at the end of it.  I really enjoyed the previous arc (a lot) and I read the tie-ins and enjoyed them all.  However, this arc makes the tie-in issues seem much more important.  It’s Batman and it’s the Joker, which makes it a perfect jump on point for anybody.

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