WARNING. MAJOR, LEGITIMATE SPOILERS TO FOLLOW. IF YOU HAVE NOT READ ISSUE #17, STOP READING NOW.
Now, with that out of the way, let's get to jawin'. Was I the only one incredibly underwhelmed by the story's conclusion? I mean, the build-up was more intense than the climax, and that's never a good sign. All of that waiting just to have the Joker do essentially nothing to the Family. I mean yes, at the end of the issue everyone blows off a summons from Bruce, but is that really the grand effect that Joker wanted? If so, shouldn't this have just been called "The Family Takes a Break"? Maybe "Family Vacation"? No one dies, not Alfred, not Damian, not Jason Todd and we get cheated out of the Joker's death by the tiredest trope in superhero fiction: the villain tumbles over a cliff into a fall that he cannot possibly survive, yet no body is found. Then there's some "character development" between Bruce and Joker, but its ultimately something we've always known: the Joker doesn't care who's under the cowl. This shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone, and if it does, you haven't been paying enough attention, because it's practically a hallmark of the clown's character.
How boring. Just for reference, the same thing was done at the end of the first Dark Knight trade with Bane (as far as fake deaths go), and we all know how that arc fared...
To top it all off, the last panel has Bruce analyzing the leftovers in the Family's bloodstream from Joker's toxin, and he finds out that the element that remains has "Ha" as its symbol on the periodic table. What a f%#@ing masterstroke, Joker. You made Batman remember his tenth grade chemistry class.
Ugh. Anyway. What are your thoughts on the "epic conclusion"?