Death of the Family Review: Batman #15 by Scott Snyder & Greg Capullo

Reviews, Top Story

Batman #15: But Here’s the Kicker

Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Greg Capullo
Release Date: 12/12/2012
Cover Price: $3.99
Review: Digital Copy (From Comixology)

The Joker has returned to Gotham City with his original face reattached to his head. He has captured Bruce Wayne’s butler, Alfred Pennyworth, killed dozens of police detectives, and started to re-enact some of his classic old crimes. On a bridge, The Joker confronts Batman on the bridge of the reservoir with The Joker claiming he knows who The Batman is.


  • As Batman confronts The Joker, the GCPD led by Harvey Bullock confront The Joker. But Joker’s snipers attack the police department.
  • Batman attacks Joker, but is stopped by a toxin on the Joker’s skin which temporarily paralyzes him. The Joker kicks him into the water
  • Bruce has a nightmare of being with his ‘family’, where he is attacked by the Joker wearing the face of Alfred.
  • Bruce wakes to the family, all of the Robins and Batgirl, confronting him about what The Joker knows about them. Bruce tells them of a story of an early encounter with The Joker, and how he found a calling card of The Joker’s in the water of the Batcave.
  • After confronting a guard from Arkham Asylum, Batman discovers that The Joker has holed up there, converting it to a trap for Batman.


There’s a common technique in any type of episodic fiction, especially in comic books, and that is each episode adds a new mystery to be solves, a new conflict to be resolved, and new revelation to be revealed in the next issue. And then you repeat the technique again until the resolution where all is revealed in one big payoff. When it is done well, when it works, it is hardly noticeable, and we let ourselves be pulled and manipulated by a story. When it doesn’t work, the manipulation seems obvious and we start to question why we let ourselves be financially and emotionally invested in fictional characters.

For me, this just didn’t work.


Very simply, this felt like I was being strung along.

The previous issue set up a confrontation between the Joker and the Batman on the reservoir; teased at a hidden secret that Batman has kept from the rest of family; suggested that the Joker has experienced a revelation with confronting Batman and his allies.

Well, the confrontation between Joker and Batman was anticlimactic at best and repetitive at worst. I don’t know how Batman and the GCPD don’t bother to check to see if Joker has allies. And I totally don’t buy that the Joker has a toxin that goes through the Batman’s fist.

The reveal of the mystery of Batman was so innocuous. Bruce kept hidden that ‘maybe’ there is evidence that The Joker knows about the Batcave and who Bruce Wayne is. That’s the big reveal? That’s the big secret? And to add insult to injury, it certainly seems like Scott Snyder is writing the Night of Owls story for a second time. In the first story, Bruce was convinced that there was no Court of Owls, only to be proven wrong. And now in this story, Bruce is once again convinced that there is no way that The Joker found The Bat Cave and his true identity. Everyone likes to see a magician change up his tricks.

And the revelation of The Joker’s new approach to The Batman is that there is ‘love’ in his eyes for Batman? Not enough of a pull to keep me excited. I’m sure that something is going to be interesting on this front at some point in time during this story arc, but right now I’m not seeing enough.

More? See if this rings a bell. The Joker has taken over the asylum for the criminally insane and freed all of Batman’s villains to confront him there? Does that sound familiar? It should, you probably played it on your favorite game console a few years ago.

And, let me be perfectly frank. Scott Snyder’s jumping on social media and hyping up each issue as his favorite Batman comic book that he’s written so far, is starting to stretch thin. But maybe that’s my fault for twittering.

Now, this is not a bad comic book. Far from it. But I don’t remember being this disappointed in a comic book in a while.

Backup Story: Red Light, Green Light

Writer: Scott Snyder & James Tynion IV
Artist: Jock


  • The Riddler is in his cell in Arkham Asylum, when he is confronted by The Joker who has taken over the asylum.
  • The Joker throws a bomb into the Riddler’s cell forcing him to escape from the death trap on his own.
  • Riddler escapes, and The Joker suggests that Riddler is able to keep Batman’s mind sharper than the other villains, and starts to reveal part of his plan to him.


This was so much more interesting than the main story. Villains showing respect for each other, highlighting how they are different, is always an interesting story to me. But this gave a chance for both The Joker and The Riddler to shine, and show off who they are. And it did a much better job of describing the approach being taken by the Joker, worshiping him as the Bat King.


Tremendously disappointed. I don’t like plots that just string me along, without really giving anything back story wise. I’m still going to keep reading the story, but my faith in Scott Snyder’s story has been shaken a little, I can’t lie. Hopefully the payoff to this tease will end well.

Overall Grade: 6.5 (Let’s see how it works out.)    


RJ Schwabe is a man who just cracked his fourth decade, and has yet to put his toys away. He is a life-long comic book fan, who is enjoying digital comics more than he ever thought he would. Big fan of nerdy television and comic books, and is a recovering pro-wrestling addict. His review blog can be found at