I chose to go back and re-read what is, in my opinion, the greatest Joker story ever told: A Death in the Family.

This is probably my favorite Batman story. Ever.

The death of Jason Todd is something that has defined Batman and his world for the last 20 years and it seems hard to remember a time before this. (Particularly since I wasn't really old enough to care about comics very long before it happened.) But everything about this story works. That spine-chilling feel when something epic or amazing happens ("No. I am your father." or "You! Shall Not! Pass!") happens repeatedly in this book. It starts when the Joker acquires a nuclear missile and Batman has to choose between chasing a runaway Robin down or tracking the lunatic. The next time is when Jason shows his mother his secret identity and Joker literally beats him within an inch of his life with a crowbar. It happens again when the building he's in explodes and Batman realizes he's arrived too late. There are at least three or four more moments (when Batman leaves with Robin's corpse, when Superman shows up and Batman punches him, when Joker shows up again, etc.)

Jim Starlin, Jim Aparo and Mike Decarlo pulled it off with a master-stroke. It's actually quite brutal and bloody, much more harsh than I would have expected them to do be able to get away with in 1988.

This was in a post "Killing Joke" world and they made a better story that defines the relationship between Joker and the Batman. However, in both of these books the Joker manages to take away one of Bruce's allies in his fight.

I happen to own three copies of this (I read them so often I wear them out) and it's gotten to the point where they need an Absolute version of this story. I would also like to see a DC animated movie of this put together. They could do a great Batman trilogy, The Killing Joke, A Death in the Family and a Lonely Place of Dying. It could be great.

On a side note, were you looking for a good reason to pick up the original single issues of this series? Mike Mignola does the covers. That's a pretty good reason.

Is anybody else as pumped to see The Dark Knight as I am at this point?

Previous Post: Batman Graphic Novel Countdown 3 and Counting

Next Post: Comic Pulls 7/16

Tags: Comics , Reviews