Which Death of the Family Tie Ins Are Worth Buying?

I'm going to guess that almost everybody reading BatWatch has read Death of the Family's main story, but I suspect some of you Bat fans have been pinching your pennies, and now you are considering catching up on some of the other tie ins, but you still don't want to waste your money on the bad tie ins, so what are you going to do? BatWatch is here to help!

To see this review with images, Click Here.

I'm going to be ranking the Death of the Family tie ins starting with the best and ending with the worst. For those of you who are considering buying more Death of the Family titles, hopefully this will be of help. For those of you who have already made your final purchases, this should still be a fun recap.

Which DotF Tie Ins Are Essential?

None. If you just want the central story for Death of the Family, then buy Batman #13-17 and call it a day.

Which DotF Tie Ins Are Good?

1. Batgirl

What was awesome about Batgirl DotF?

The conflict between Batgirl and Joker has been twenty-five years in the making. Oracle may have faced down Joker before (though I do not recall a direct conflict between them since he crippled her) but Batgirl never has, and that made this story feel extremely important. Adding to the natural tension which would accompany this conflict is the way Simone has made Barbara's spinal injury the defining moment of Babs' life with which she struggles every day to overcome. Joker managed to make himself even more vile and disgusting by coming with some of the most horrifying imagery of the entire series with his “plans” for Barbara, and throwing Babs mother into jeopardy put another element of risk in this story. Add to this some cool set pieces for the conflict, raw emotions, and some resolution for Barbara, and you've got a narrative recipe that made every blow Babs reigned down on the Clown Prince of Crime feel like a triumph tantamount to the moon landing.

What sucked about Batgirl DotF?

James Jr. was inserted awkwardly into the story. His role in rescuing his mother does not really track, and all of his actions appear to be without any sort of logic. The emotional climax is in issue #15 when Babs turns the tables on Joker, but the Clown had an Ace up his sleeve which caused the story to drag on for another issue and reach the much less satisfying platter conclusion. Finally, Simone writes Barbara as painfully flat and stiff, and though you sympathize for her situation, you don't really like her that much.

2. Detective Comics

What was awesome about 'Tec Death of the Family?

While every other tie in pumped out variations of the same basic formula involving Joker menacing the Bat Family, Detective Comics broke the mold, ignored Joker himself, and focused instead on the effects Joker has on the citizenry of Gotham. The main theme of this arc was summed up by a psychiatrist in Tec' 17 who said something to the effect of, “For most people, Joker inspires fear, but in the unstable and those living on the fringe of society, Joker simply inspires.” Take this concept and have it presented by two great story tellers, Jason Fabok on pencils who always does a great job and came up with a crazy awesome design for a new villain called Merrymaker and John Layman who writes the best version of Batman for my money, and you've got a killer crossover.

What sucked about 'Tec Death of the Family?

'Tec had two big problems. Tec' #15 was the first story in the crossover, and it was stuck half way between being an Emperor Penguin tale and a Joker story. In its divided loyalties, it succeeded fully at being neither. Second, the identity of the Merrymaker is designed to be a ninth hour reveal, but it is something you will see coming from a mile away.

3. Batman and Robin

What was awesome about Batman and Robin DotF?

Batman and Robin featured excellent visuals in both issues of the crossover. Patrick Gleason (penciler) killed it in both issues with very thematic visuals, extremely creative use of the Joker face, a horror vibe, and action with genuinely surprising moments. Even more importantly, Joker is more successful at being psychologically menacing to Damian than he was any other hero. Though every hero went through the same basic process, Batman and Robin perfected it with excellent dialogue between Damian and Joker in issue 15. Finally, Tomasi throws in some heart at the end which will make even the harshest Damian critics reconsider the little brat.

What sucked about Batman and Robin DotF?

Issue 15 was excellent largely because of the dialogue. Issue 16 had virtually no dialogue of importance. The entire story devolved into one long action scene, and though cool, it hinged partly on a big reveal at the end of the story which was extremely transparent. Also, there was a giant egg in once scene which was never explained. What the crap was up with that egg?

Which DotF Titles Are Okay?

4. Nightwing

What was awesome about Nightwing DotF?

The art in issue 16 was breathtakingly good. Major props to penciler Eddy Barrows and the rest of the art team. Also, parts of the conflict between Nightwing and Joker felt extremely weighty. On Joker's part, he takes apart Dick's world! Nightwing on the other hand lands some very solid blows and probably does more physical damage to Joker than any other protégé of the Bat.

What sucked about Nightwing DotF?

On the psychological level, Joker begins to menace Dick and poke at his psyche, then he just kind of stops without building up much steam. It felt very anticlimactic. However, Joker made up for it in physical attacks by KILLING OFF DICK'S ENTIRE TROUPE AND BURNING AMUSEMENT MILE TO THE GROUND! Okay, so there might be some new information on the troupe that I'm leaving out, but still, all of the story progression of the first sixteen issues has pretty much been wiped out in this one comic. I do not approve of carneys is refrigerators.

5. Suicide Squad

What was awesome about Suicide Squad DotF?

Joker and Harley Quinn are always amusing, and their fight scene had definite moments of a dark Loony Tunes style fun. If you are a Harley Quinn fan, then you will probably enjoy seeing Miss Quinzel take a stand for herself and put Joker in his place. Finally, there is a reveal about the role of Harley which is potentially a game changer.

What sucked about Suicide Squad DotF?

The rating I gave this when it first came out would actually place it higher on the list, but after considering it for longer, I've decided that this was basically a case of taking a long time to say very little. There are some cool ideas in this comic, but the story could have shed ten pages easily. Nearly every good point of the story had a negative aspect. The fight between Joker and Harley is amusing, but it uncomfortably straddles the line between cartoon antics and spouse abuse. The reveal about Harely is cool, but if true, it damages the uniqueness of the character. Finally, there is no Suicide Squad in these issues of Suicide Squad, and that is not really honest labeling.

6. Teen Titans and Red Hood and the Outlaws

In case you did not know, Teen Titans and RHATO did their own little crossover with this event. You could potentially read Teen Titans and skip the RHATO issues, but you definitely would not want to do the reverse.

What was awesome about TT and RHATO DotF?

We get to see Red Robin and Red Hood fight each other and work together. Both of those things are awesome. Even better, Teen Titans #16 is the first time in the DCNU that Red Robin has acted like his old school self. That in and of itself is worth the price of admission for some Tim Drake fans.

What sucked about TT and RHATO DotF?

The last issue was pretty awesome, but the rest felt a lot like filler. Kory may as well have been AWOL the entire series, and Red Hood was completely absent an entire issue of his own title. Writer Lobdell decided to focus on Roy and the Teen Titans for large portions of the event. Roy is cool, but Lobdell has made the Teen Titans look like complete boobs, and what limited awkward charm they had for all of about five issues has long since worn off. Finally, the way Joker menaced Jason makes it virtually impossible for him not to know the identity of the Bat clan, so what gives?

Which Death of the Family Title Was Just Plain Bad?

7. Catwoman

What was awesome about Catwoman DotF?

The idea of a giant game of chess being played across the rooftops of Gotham is pretty cool if impractical.

What sucked about Catwoman DotF?

Pretty much everything. Joker spent a quarter of his time poking at Catwoman's mistake in letting her friend get killed from the shadows, but it clearly had no effect on her other than making her irritated. Then, we get this odd caper which suddenly turns into some chess game of death involving people strapped in giant chess pieces which Catwoman somehow failed to notice. Then, Joker pops up and all the people locked in Chess pieces across the city are promptly forgotten. Joker does a completely ridiculous set of actions which really have to be seen to be believed. The entire narrative structure of this comic is literally broken. You cannot makes sense of several scenes. Joker “menaces” Catwoman the entire time, but his jibes are not focused like a scalpel to cut to Selina's soul. Instead, he just seems to say a bunch of crap some of which makes sense and some of which does not. I suppose if he and/or Nocenti throw everything against the wall, something is bound to stick, but it certainly did not make much of an impression. There are also several scenes which were created just for the purpose of getting Selina out of her clothes. At the end of the day, Catwoman's Death of the Family even can be summed up in two word, pointless nonsense.

That's All Folks

Keep your eyes peeled for Monday's article, Is Batwing Safe from Cancellation?

Also, if you missed it and are interested, check out this article, "A Defense of Nocenti's Catwoman."

For more news, reviews, and commentary for the entire Bat Family, check out BatWatch.net.

2 Comments
2 Comments
Posted by JamesKM716

I liked Batman and Robin, Nightwing, Detective Comics and Batgirl.

Lodbell's tie-ins I didn't care for, which is odd cause I normally like his writing

Edited by charlieboy

Oracle did actually have a confrontation with the Joker in the original Birds of Prey series.