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Thread: Grace Randolph's Between The Pages With Batman #17 And Rich Johnston

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    Default Grace Randolph's Between The Pages With Batman #17 And Rich Johnston

    [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_pHi671dlU[/youtube]

    Think About The Ink presents;
    Death of the Family Review! Death of the Family, the most successful Batman event yet for the DC Comics New 52, is over. Host Grace Randolph and guest Rich Johnston from Bleeding Cool give their review of Death of the Family from Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, discussing how DC Comics has changed the classic relationship between Batman and the Joker for their New 52. Did you enjoy Death of the Family?

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    King of Cool Blackfist's Avatar
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    Captain Cool MicroZone's Avatar
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    This was the second arc in a row that built up to a non-ending. This was my last remaining New 52 Batbook. After this, I'm sticking with LOTDK and Batman Beyond.
    WillipsBrighton likes this.

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    Batman was completely undermined in DOTF, in a way that I think was fascinating and made the character more sympathetic.

    Remember, Bruce Wayne is a guy whose parents died. When he goes to the Joker as Bruce Wayne, I read that as him seeking approval. His parents aren't around, so who is he going to seek approval from? He doesn't kill the baddies because they are the ones he is trying to prove himself to. If Thomas Wayne was around, Bruce Wayne would have looked to him to prove himself and receive love in return. The Joker sets the whole thing up as if he is dependent on Batman, but part of his 'joke' is proving that he remembers that moment in Arkham, and he needs to remind Batman: Batman needs the Joker's approval more than he needs Batman's. Batman's comment to Alfred, that Gotham would send someone worse, was a cop out and a lie - he meant, if he killed Joker, that HE would be worse. Whatever makes him function as Batman would be broken. He would be the psychopath, and we see in this story that he is borderline crazy and Joker exploits that (Gordon's one bad day from killing joke... but here it is one bad day meant to show what was there all along). Batman's code exists because he needs to impress, he needs the approval only a father can give, and he has put that need for approval instead onto some of his villains and the murderers he beats up every night. He is a weak and broken little boy on the inside, full of neuroses. But the Joker is just the Joker, just a grin underneath a grin. Batman's human, fleshy side is his weakness.

    The Joker even tricks Batman into calling him 'Darling'. Batman thinks he is doing it in a tough guy way, but to the Joker, playing his games (the 'ha, ha, ha' at the end shows that he was thinking ahead), Batman is finally giving in. As the Joker play-acts terror, preparing for the fall that will show that he actually controls the game, that he wants it to play out as it always does, that such patterns are, always have been and always will be the Joker's victory, I can imagine him laughing more than he ever has before, inside, as he hears Batman utter that word.

    The Joker knows Batman is weak. He is a scared little boy full of fears and human weakness, and the Joker shows that up. Everything the Joker says about Batman is true. The bat-family see that. The Joker could have killed them all at any time but he didn't. Batman can't protect them, and Batman has endangered them all due to his own neuroses and arrogance. The family see just enough of a hint of all that to realise that the king is weak. Batman doesn't even save the flesh tapestry because 'Joker first'. He needs the Joker first. Batman is cracking.

    It's a bit like King Lear, but instead of the bat-family squabbling over an inheritance, they see that what the king has, the children don't want. The king's world is not a heroic one but a hollow and selfish one, a vain one, and they finally see that. And the king is left alone on a stormy heath with a jester, but which of them is really the madman?

    Also, I think the marketing was all part of the 'joke'. I think the Joker's joke was a meta-textual one that stretched into the way comic book events are expected to play out, comic book marketing, and the salacious desires of the reader who wants death and destruction. 'Huge changes!' etc. etc. It was a joke that DC played along with, and was a comment on tired comic book cliches. The Joker actually told a joke, and it included the reader and stretched into the real world. I thought that was utterly brilliant. Instead of the boring death we got something much better. Besides, if the Joker killed supporting characters all the time he would be too predictable. Here the Joker is at his most powerful and he just doesn't care about the second-tiers, as anyway, death isn't permanent, as Jason shows. When the Joker finally has the bat family, he is like harmless fifties Joker again for just a moment, showing yet another of those multiple dimensions he has had over the years.

    The comic was like a celebration of the bat-mythos, as well as an expanding and an exploration. It was written by a guy who truly loves Batman and loves it for what it is and what it always has been. And how utterly ballsy and bombastic is Snyder? When so many big name creators go to a property and make lots of changes and try to leave their mark so they will be remembered, clumsily killing characters, changing this and that, Snyder is self-assured enough and satisfied enough in his own ego that he dares, DARES just to tell a good story. He has the opportunity to do damage and he doesn't take it. He loves and respects Batman and the bat-universe, and he has written the perfect love letter to it here. He gives the Joker a makeover, but it is symbolically sound, as he becomes the Jester who holds up the smiling mask as he entertains the king.

    To me, this was one of the best Batman stories ever written. Batman was shown to be more weak and human than ever, and I actually found him more sympathetic because of it. Batman is human underneath? Who knew?
    B-Thom and Acrid_Gunsmoke like this.

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    Zen Master of Cool Adam's Avatar
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    Having not read any of the tie-ins, a question:

    The story is this: Joker comes back, apparently knows Batman's identity and everyone else's, Batman promises it's not true even as everyone freaks out, Batman is proved right.

    But was he right that Joker just didn't know his identity, or right that Joker didn't know anyone's? If Joker didn't know anyone's, how'd he get ahold of the family for #17? If Joker did know everyone's but Batman's, why the hell is Batman not concerned about that?

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    Dean of Cool University Acrid_Gunsmoke's Avatar
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    In my mind, Joker knows who everyone is. Hence why Alfred was taken first. The story is about how the family is broken because they all finally know that Joker is just as important to Batman as his family is...if not more.
    jimminysausage likes this.

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    Wrote the Book on Cool WillipsBrighton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adam View Post
    Having not read any of the tie-ins, a question:

    The story is this: Joker comes back, apparently knows Batman's identity and everyone else's, Batman promises it's not true even as everyone freaks out, Batman is proved right.

    But was he right that Joker just didn't know his identity, or right that Joker didn't know anyone's? If Joker didn't know anyone's, how'd he get ahold of the family for #17? If Joker did know everyone's but Batman's, why the hell is Batman not concerned about that?
    This is all so very wrong. I don't know where to begin.

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    Zen Master of Cool Adam's Avatar
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    This is all so very wrong. I don't know where to begin.
    Not sure if you're saying the story doesn't make sense or that my reading comprehension sucks...

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    VP in Charge of Cool ShadowMax's Avatar
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    The biggest problem I had with this story-arc is the same I have with most Joker stories, but this time to even bigger extent: There is no logical explanation why Joker poses so big a threat to everyone and Batman in particular. How does he manage to do all these things we see him do here? Does he possess Lex Luthor-level intellect? Does he have super-powers that allow him to overpower others, predict random consequences, or instill crippling fear to otherwise very tough people?
    As Grace points out, there have been some rather daring re-imaginings of DC characters with the reboot, but this just isn't one of them IMO. Physical appearance aside, this is the same old Joker that comes around and somehow wreaks havok when any other villain using these methods would have been easily dealt with with little fuss.

    The second problem I have is one mentioned by Rich in the video: There just isn't any rational explanation why Batman or someone else wouldn't just kill the Joker and be done with it. In this, I thought this story stumbles just like a lot of Marvel story premises of the current era. They present 'realistic' characterisation and 'realistic' actions and consequences, but somehow insist on keeping some idealistic and romantic aspects from previous eras that clash with everything else. This makes for an awkward experience. If you reboot the characters and want to make them more relatable in the present, then be brave and have them tackle the situations they are in like real people would these days.

    And lastly, how on earth did Grace come up to the conclusion that Joker is gay?! The details that she mentions as proof of her conclusion have always been part of his characterisation. And in all interpretations across all mediums no less.

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    I think expectations are tricking things to manage. In the case of Death of the Family, I think too many people (myself included) expected a literal death. That there wasn't one is actually part of why I enjoyed the book so much.

    And on a side note; one of the things I really liked about this book? I honestly felt like this time, Batman was going to kill Joker...and wasn't going to make it quick. (I realize he wouldn't, of course...but the sense that "this is it" was palpable just the same.)

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