Friday, 23 August 2013

Batman: The Death Of The Family

Written by - Scott Snyder
Pencils - Greg Capullo
Inks - Jonathan Glapion
Colours - FCO Plascencia
Letters - Richard Starkings, Jimmy Betancourt

Hello again! 
The Exegesis has been away for a while, lot's of changes have happened over the last 18 months but now it's back, so let's get into it! 

Okay, let me start by saying, I like David Finch because he's a great artist (he really is), but his writing is dreadful (really dreadful). So at the start of the DC New 52 relaunch I automatically picked up Detective Comics #1, as the previous run by Scott Snyder had been one of the best ever stories published by DC. Now Davd Finch was at the controls and I was instantly unimpressed by where he was taking things... A relaunch, a new beginning, a place to show new readers and old alike some new, original stories featuring new characters. And what do we get? The Joker. AGAIN. And this time he has gone and cut his face off. Who does David Finch think he is? Mark Millar? Give me a break...

But see, it was all a plan, it was a ruse! Scott Snyder had it planned all along from the start. Following that first issue of Detective Finch took things even further down hill, whereas Snyder was churning out his Court Of Owls run. Classic Batman. A story which reminded Bruce of how much his 'family' mean to him and why he needs them. The perfect setup for 'The Death Of The Family'

There have been stories over the years that have suggested reasons as to why the Joker and Batman are still alive, how one can't exist without the other, this story seeks to explain this idea from the perspective of The Joker. This incarnation of the Joker is much more creepy than those of recent times, Snyder explains in a recent interview, "That’s what I love about that take on him that Grant Morrison created, where he’s reborn all the time as a new self, that kind of hyper-self, hyper-sense of identity. For me, it’s a generous way of defining him, because it allows all of us to make up our own takes and have them all be “true.”" A great example of this particular Joker takes place in the Gotham Police Station, the Joker is in the building and in the dark begins to kill police officers whilst taunting Jim Gordon, left helpless and scared. Then the Joker starts to become super weird, he starts to tell of a secret that only Gordon knows about. Where he hides his cigarettes from his wife now that he's 'quit' smoking. They're kept under his bed, where the Joker claims he sometimes lyes at night... That really creeped me out.

Scott Snyder also recently explained why he wrote the story that he did "I can’t believe I get to go to work and write Bruce Wayne every day, so honestly, my big fear was that I won’t get a chance to do it again. I feel like you have to approach characters like the Joker, the Riddler or Batman like, if I only got one chance to write this character, this is the story I would do." Which I can understand, because when it became apparent that it was Snyder's idea to cut the Joker's face off way back in Detective #1, I knew from experience we were in safe hands.

As I've already mentioned, this story is a way to let the Joker express his true feelings about Batman and to let him know why he thinks they both exist. Only, as you would expect, his perspective is pretty twisted. As the story draws to it's conclusion it is revealed what the Joker has been upto over the last year or so. He has taken over Arkham Asylum and has turned it into a castle that he has built for the two of them, which lends a real "Frankenstein" feel to the story, Snyder says "the Joker really believes that Batman is the walking dead, that he lost his spark and his fire because he has this family that makes him an old, slow, weak man. He wants to shock him back to life." In this castle Batman discovers a tapestry that is made up of inmates from Arkham stitched together which is to remind Batman of the 'wonderful times they've spent together'. Although this is completely grotesque it never feels like it's gone too far. It's all about context, a context that has been setup from issue #1 of Detective Comics. This is the Joker confessing his love for the Batman, in his twisted toxin riddled mind he's come to the conclusion that Batman loves Joker, that's why he's never killed him. The Joker sees that Batman's family is holding him back like a weight around his neck, and that it's his job to free him so that they can be together in his 'castle'.

Not only does the Joker resemble 'Leatherface' from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the final showdown in Arkham Asylum also brings to mind the dining room scene; I'd love to know if this was a concious decision by Scott Snyder. Now, my initial reaction to what took place at the dinner table was as it should be, I was shocked like most people. "How could DC let Snyder do this? How can this possibly be resolved?", he played me like a fiddle and I absolutely love that. But then I felt conflicted and a little confused. Is this not the Joker? What the hell? Why would he NOT do it?! But then it occured to me, he's the joker, IT'S A PRACTICAL JOKE. Oh right, I get it, hang on, I thought he was for real though? I thought he wanted to rid Batman of his 'family', why would he spare them? And I'm still a little unclear on this, feel free to leave a comment and let me know.

Overall this is certainly on a par with Snyder's last Batman story 'The Black Mirror', although that story felt like it had a little more room to breath whereas this felt like it was very compressed. I read it with all the tie-in books which defintely felt quite bloated (with some exceptions such as Nightwing), so I would say none of the tie-in books are really neccesary they just fill in a couple of gaps. The collection of Death Of The Family issue13 - 17 is released in October and is something I'll definitely be adding to my collection.

Well there it is, the Exegesis is back and I've had a blast writing this one, but now I'm a bit drunk and it's time for bed, thanks for reading!