So, I don't usually listen podcasts but I was reading one of the editors for the site's new articles which can be read here (excellent article, by the way!). In it she mentions how her and the editor in chief G-Man did not see eye to eye on the ending to the incredibly hyped Death of the Family story arc. I was originally going to write a bit on it, much similarly like I did for my predictions with Amazing Spider-Man 700, but I would rather write about the aftermath.
Let me start with this; comics have really come back in a surprising way over the past couple years. It's very much in the public eye and the story telling has been more epic in scale and has become incredibly accepted. Gone are the days where you may be thought to be weird if you talked about Spider-man or Batman in public. They are common knowledge now. It's awesome that you have things like MTV giving comic writers such as Geoff Johns, Matt Fraction and Scott Snyder interviews over what it is they're coming out with. I never thought I would see that day.
With all that being said; Death of the Family delivered exactly what was promised from the word 'go' and it's silly for anyone to assume it was going to go in any other direction but the one it did. When I saw 'Death of the Family' as the title, I didn't think the family was going to be butchered. I thought, knowing Snyder's writing, he'd be playing to the Joker's cunning as oppose to the usual plain crazy factors most usually write. Everything this time out was methodical and metaphorical, down to him cutting off his own face. That's a villain I want to read about. The method to his madness is that he'll get the best of anyone who ever thought that madness could have a method.
For years, people believed that Joker had to know who Batman was. From my understanding from being on here and reading things to just my own thoughts was that even if he did, he probably wouldn't care. What's nice about Snyder's writing is that it's different from other Bat writers, even Morrison. Morrison sort of gets lost in his own head sometimes and is still a good writer (albeit, insane). Snyder, however, can write and is also a fan. He has mulled over all these questions just like us, he just actually got to put it down in the books as the way it goes.
To the story, who the hell thought Alfred was going to die? You think they'd kill Bruce's other dad? There ain't any coming back from that for Batman. He's just as crazy, if not crazier than the Joker (I'll touch on that later). If Alfred got killed, zero people would be safe. There goes his last shred of sanity. To anyone thinking any of the family was going to die, guess you somehow ignore all solicits. Everything gets reported so fast nowadays that if there was word that any character would be missing, months in advance, we'd have the heads up.
Not to mention, this wouldn't be the story it had been then. It would be regarded as that time someone got killed, again. Resurrections are lazy forms of story telling and it'd just be a matter of time before that happened and it would certainly cheapen everything we had just read. So, for those of you with a questionable amount of blood lust toward characters you supposedly like, relax a bit. I'm sure somebody will get maimed in another title you can pick up.
Next, people believing nothing happened. I have read this a lot. Again, what did you want to happen? Would you want to read Alfred being in tiny pieces, killed off page by the Joker? Maybe this is where the super early solicitations or the fact DC super hyped the story arc really did more harm than good, but I found myself more pleased with this ending than I did the Court of Owls. Joker saw Batman need help from his family in dealing with a bunch of ghouls who, frankly, Joker knows he could outwit and out psycho any day of the week should he desire. He hated this idea so, he did something a little out of the box. You wanted a super massive body count? A bat family member gravely injured? Killed? We've had those stories. More than enough. We haven't had one where we got so many firm answers and a blow that you can't just deal purely on strength alone. I'm pretty sure it's clear Batman has to know who Joker is too, and that doesn't matter either. Joker likes their game, he likes that this is who they are. What's in a name other than what people believe you are assigned you to be?
Finally, Batman killing Joker. Earlier I stated that Batman is crazier than the Joker. Yeah, he is. At the very least he's on the same level. Everything he has ever done is the opposite of logic. Rich and have the ability to try and become and do something meaningful in this world with the grand fortune that you have? Nah. Go across the world and be taught by the masters of skills you need to learn in order to start a war on the criminal element. You betcha. None of that is sane. Oh, you feel bad for orphans or kids down on their luck the way you were yourself? Give them a costume, the one that's practically a bullseye when compared to a guy dressed in pure black, and teach them to help you on your crusade to fight the aforementioned criminal element. Yes, some forced their way. Want to know what you do? Keep saying 'no.' He didn't and we got a ton of crime fighters, so cool, still insane. No matter how you color it, only a maniac or the leaders of cults or militias train child foot soldiers.
So, yeah, killing Joker would be the sane thing. Guy doesn't ever stop doing stuff and for some reason no one has ever wised up to say, "Hey, the nut house thing isn't doing much. Not to mention i'm pretty sure he knows what he's doing. He's killed so many people. We ready for the chair now?" As I just said though, Batman isn't sane. He keeps his chess partner in play because killing Joker is the final straw. He believes it keeps him held together when really, it's just how he copes. That he's just as bad as he is. Think about it! He's killed hundreds of people. He has tortured his best buddy, Jim Gordon. He put Barbara in a wheelchair. He murdered Jason. Batman never killed him at any of those times. Not one jury in the world would bat an eye over the demise of the Joker. Batman will never do it because he can't accept it. You think he'd kill him over kidnapping everyone? Over breaking the trust with those he loves? He's used to not being able to protect those people since they're always so busy being dead!
Also, you think DC comics would okay the killing of the Joker? They okayed the idea of killing Batman! There is definitely a rule somewhere in every writer's contract that says "don't you dare try to kill the joker." So this whole, nothing happened, why didnt anyone die, why isn't Joker smashed into a bunch of tiny joker cubes at the edge of the cave; it's a little silly. We got a hell of a Joker story which can't be the easiest to write at this stage in history. So, instead of seeing it as "crap, everyone's alive," take it in as you were enthralled with what was going to happen. You had to have guessed they wouldn't straight up murder everyone. You were left guessing the entire time. Not only did DC over hype it, but you yourself did.