Warning! I discuss everything that happens in Batman 017 below. I suggest you read the comic before you go any further. FULL OF SPOILERS!
And here we GO… Batman 017
Well 5 months, and 23 issues later and we come to the conclusion to Death of the family cross over! What was promised to be the next “big thing” sure delivered. In a time where comics seem to kill off characters to get the shock value needed to have people talking or to have the next great story, we are given something different with Death of the Family. Scott Snyder proves again that he cares about the story and how these characters develop. So if you were looking for a giant shock, like a death, you might have been disappointed. Again this is Snyder taking us on a journey, and with him it is the journey that really matters, not just the end game.
Now lets go head first into the comic itself. Batman 017 continues exactly where 016 left off, with Batman on the throne at the head of the table. The family is all seated at the table with bloody bandages covering their faces. The serving plates are in front of them, so we finally get the big reveal! I was shocked at what was underneath, I am glad it did not disappoint. The skinned faces of each of the members of the bat family on ice was perfect for this story (Even though we find out later their faces are fine and this was a joke the Joker used). We find out batman has flint under his chair that will spark if he stands up and set his gasoline covered family on fire. Good thing the Dark Knight always has a trick up his sleeve. He stands up causing the family to ignite, but detonates the floor sending them down into water to extinguish the flames.
With the family and Alfred appearing to be safe, Batman goes after the Joker, little does he know the Joker left an insurance policy and sets off Joker Toxin causing the family to attack each other with Batman off to find the Joker in the cave. Once Batman finds the Joker they continue a conversation about why Batman doesn’t kill him. Batman continues saying that he doesn’t because that would mean the Joker wins. The Joker tells him that he thinks he really won’t because it would mean Batman could lose control and murdering other villains could become easy to him. The Joker then slips and Batman saves him saying, “you won’t die by accident.” Is Batman thinking of breaking his one rule?
Still holding the Joker over the cliff with water down below Batman begins telling the Joker that over the last year he has determined who the Joker really is, and what his back story is. This seems to really get under the Jokers skin, the Joker doesn’t like it and tells Batman to “Shut up!” We never learn this true back story or his identity, but this seems to really upset the Joker, who pushes off batman to dive/fall down below, (I assume he survives this fall). At the moment he falls is where the artwork of Greg Capullo really hits me. Honestly his artwork is some of the best in the business and you could argue that every frame is award worthy, but seeing the Joker fall with his face skin floating down, was creepy and wonderful at the same time.
Batman then helps the family and gets the toxin out of their system, he was not able to get one element out of their system completely. We see Bruce open up the curtains and the sun come in the room with Alfred in bed recovering. Bruce tells the butler that the Joker doesn’t care who is behind Batman’s mask. The reason he doesn’t kill the Joker is because Batman is afraid that if he does something/someone worse then the Joker will emerge. Bruce hands Alfred a bell to ring if he needs Bruce and tells him he is going to have a family meeting. I love the switch of roles and how uncomfortable Alfred is in this situation. Bruce meanwhile gets calls/texts from all of the family members saying they can’t make the meeting. Bruce then goes to the Batcave where the computer has determined the element still in their systems. The periodic table name for the element is “Ha”
Overall, there is no relationship in comics more interesting then Batman & the Joker. At the end of this story that is exactly what we get, an exciting new chapter in their long term relationship. I believe that this story will cause big changes in their relationship, we finally get to see Batman get under the Jokers skin, which I view as a big win for Batman, maybe his first true win verse the Joker. The bat family might be doubting Batman, but this was never really a story about the family. This was a story about the dysfunctional couple, a story about Batman and the Joker and the journey each took. It seems the scale has tipped in Batman’s favor and it appears Batman has the upper hand, for now..
Recommendation: Buy It- Batman 017 is a fitting conclusion to a journey that was story driven and takes the relationship of Batman and the Joker to a whole new level!