Welcome to this week'st edition of 'Comic Book Predictions!' Dozens of new comics hit the shelves (or your iPads/iPhones/iWhatevers) every Wednesday, and just like with any good story, we're left anxiously waiting to see what'll happen next.
Usually for this feature I'll pick 3 upcoming releases to chat about, but in the end, it's fairly obvious BATMAN #17 is the one we're going to be talking about the most (unless a fan favorite dies in AVENGERS ARENA, that is). It's the conclusion of Scott Snyder & Greg Capullo's second big story on Batman's primary book and odds are you're curious to see how it'll all unfold -- unless you've read the leak, then please remember to use proper spoiler etiquette.
While I'm only addressing BATMAN #17, you're of course welcome to speculate on any and all new issues.
Before moving forward, I need to say one thing: yes, I've seen the leaked cover for RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS, so that obviously holds some influence over my prediction. If you haven't see it, the image reveals a severely disfigured man under the mask. While that cover could easily be Joker under Jason Todd's mask, it can't help but make you wonder if the Clown Prince of Crime will once again ruin the second Robin's life... and would that kind of attack be limited to only Jason?
That said, the end of the most recent TEEN TITANS revealed two serving trays. This obviously points out there's multiple plates and would support the ongoing notion that everyone could suffer a "face off..." but I find it hard to believe something like that would actually happen. A twist that powerful would literally be too much to swallow -- it's like in Dan Slott's 'Ends of the Earth' when half the planet's population is "killed." You can't help but take a step back after a moment like that and mutter to yourself, "yeah, that definitely didn't happen." Mutilating everyone in the bat-family isn't something I can see logically happening, especially because future solicitations show them just fine (unless they all happen to be sporting some absurdly good make up or wearing the device from BATMAN #1).
Additionally, one of the solicitations says Jason Todd will attempt to comfort Batman after his great tragedy. Why would a now faceless Todd be the right guy for that job? Such an attack on him would certainly have a lasting impact on his mental well being and potentially make him dive deeper into anti-hero territory. If anyone is going to talk some sense into an outraged Wayne, a disfigured Todd would hardly be the best choice. Besides, hasn't Todd been through enough? First killed by the fans, now he primary victim of a BATMAN story? Doesn't seem right to me. And I'm not seeing why Wayne would need extra support if Todd lost his face.
Based on that leaked cover and the fact there's multiple serving plates, that means it's safe to say the original concerns over Alfred ("OMG IT'S ALFRED'S HEAD") is incredibly unlikely. In fact, I'd feel safe wagering everything that Alfred makes it out of this alive -- injured, but at least alive. The other character everyone (including myself) is concerned about is Batman's son, Damian Wayne.
I think Damian will survive the events of 'Death of the Family.' Why? Because I believe his demise (if it happens at all) is being saved for Grant Morrison over in BATMAN INCORPORATED. You saw the end of the latest issue, yes? Damian's patch was ripped off and had blood on it -- certainly not a good sign. Considering he has yet to fight Heretic (who absolutely humiliated Batman, by the way) and this book clearly doesn't take place during the same time period as DotF, I'd say if Damian is going to lose his life, it'll take place here. A former solicitation promised Damian vs. Heretic, and that's a fight this awesome 10 year-old most likely won't walk away from.
Furthermore, I can't shake the feeling that DotF isn't actually about a literal death, but instead Joker trying to create a rift in the family -- something to hopefully divide them and destroy their confidence and faith in their fearless leader. So far, he's already made a bit of progress on that front when Batman told them the story about Joker's card. How he'll do worse than that, I naturally have no idea, but I do have faith Scott Snyder will be able to deliver on that one.
Viners, how do you think 'Death of the Family' will conclude?
- Avengers Arena: It'll continue to generate outrage.
- Batman & Robin: Damian will say "-tt-."
- Bloodshot: There will be blood.
- Deathstroke: Slade's goatee will look like an upside down version of Wolverine's haircut.