The Joker’s back for Batman – Death of the Family

When last we saw the clown prince of crime, he was missing his face, but that’s not going to stop the Joker from plaguing Batman once more.

The Joker’s back after a year-long absence, and the Batman villain is returning with a visage and master plan more grotesque than ever before.
– Brian Truitt, USA TODAY

With his stark white face and ghoulish smile, the Joker has always been fear-inducing. But his twisted new visage? Well, that’s downright horrific.

The Clown Prince of Crime is back in the comics world after being absent for a year — after having the skin of his face cut off — to torment the Dark Knight yet again in the pages of DC Comics’ Batman series.

He has a major ax to grind this time, however, and not just with Batman. He has crafted a master plan to take out Batgirl, Nightwing and all the rest of the Bat-clan in a crossover arc, with Catwoman, Suicide Squad and other DC series, called “Death of the Family” — a play on the “Death in the Family” story line from the 1980s that saw comic fans vote for the death of the Robin of the time, Jason Todd, at the hands of the Joker.

Much of the story, which begins in Batman Issue 13 (out Oct. 10), is a nod to the long history of the dynamic between the hero and his archenemy, a symbiotic relationship that at times has been almost co-dependent. It will feature the Joker’s first encounter in a while with his old foe, but also will have him face Batgirl — whom the Joker shot through the spine and crippled in Alan Moore’s Batman: The Killing Joke — and Todd, now resurrected and going by the name Red Hood.

“The Joker is coming and saying, ‘Remember all these awesome times we had together,’ which are obviously not awesome at all for Batman, but in the Joker’s mind are these incredibly loving and terrific encounters over the years,” says Batman writer Scott Snyder.

In his own oddball way, the Joker sees Batman as the ruler of Gotham and himself as the court jester — Snyder is including Peter Pan and fairy-tale imagery as the Joker shows his messed-up adoration.

“He believes he often brings the worst news of Batman’s own heart to him in the form of these terrible nightmares he has to fight,” the writer says. “If that’s his purpose, then he sees this family in a lot of ways as interlopers and people who make his idol, his Bat-king, weak.”

So, the Joker is just as demented as ever at his core — “just the window dressing is a little bit different” this time around, says artist Greg Capullo, who designed the villain’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre-esque look.

The psycho has managed to reattach his face to his head using a makeshift variety of hooks and belts going around his ears and into his mouth and neck, adding to his already animated nature.

“Maybe Batman clocks him or something and a hook busts loose,” Capullo says. “One side of the face is hanging while the other is up in the twisted maniacal grin that we are all familiar with the Joker.”

DC’s Batman series is the most subscribed-to and best-selling title at Jetpack Comics in Rochester, N.H., and its owner, Ralph DiBernardo, and his customers have been eagerly awaiting the Joker’s return.

“We all have crazy thoughts at times. We just don’t act them out, so watching a character that does is intriguing,” DiBernardo says.”Clowns are supposed to be fun and friendly, but then you get a blast of acid in the face from their boutonniere. The real question is, like the chicken and the egg, did the Joker spawn people’s fear of clowns or did coulrophobia (fear of clowns) start after the Joker’s introduction in comic books? I’d like to believe it was the latter.”


5 thoughts on “The Joker’s back for Batman – Death of the Family

  1. Hobby – Jameson will answer this as well but (though I’m tempted to say “you really don’t want to know”!) I will too, the Joker allowed a charming fellow named the Dollmaker to cut his face off and um nail it to a wall. For some reason. I’m not sure if this is due to the Joker’s insanity or DC’s.


  2. Ha. And there you go…!
    Jameson, I don’t know if you’ve got Red Dwarf X over there yet (and the internet streaming situation’s all greek to me 🙂 ) but I saw the opener tonight. So if you haven’t seen it and have read none of the reviews, here’s a reviewette that spoils nothing important.
    Red Dwarf was one of the most successful small sf shows of the late eighties/early nineties; launched in 1988 the year before Doctor Who ended its original run, it was by its sixth series in 1993 not only really the last British sf series standing but also an award-winning international hit. Quite amazing when one considers that it began as a small-scale character-based sitcom with a budget that Blake’s 7 would have laughed at. As you know, creators Rob Grant and Doug Naylor wrote every episode of Red Dwarf I-VI but there relationship disintegrated so when VII aired in 1997 it was without Grant. Although VII and VIII were popular neither were up to the standards of earlier runs with format and cast changes suggesting that Dwarf’s time was past and that Naylor without Grant was like French Fries without Salt. Naylor’s deluded quest for a Dwarf movie kept it off-screens for years, and when it did return as the Back to Earth mini-series, well as you remember, it was fitfully entertaining, underbudgeted, slightly pretentious, and not quite convincing as Dwarf. So, is Red Dwarf X even a worthwhile endeavour? From the evidence of premiere episode “Trojan” very much so! There’s no Holly (boo!), Kochanski (boo! Chloe Annett’s nice), or any of VIII’s crew (yay!) but Rimmer (Chris Barrie), Lister (Craig Charles), the Cat (Danny John-Jules), and Kryten (Robert Llewelyn) are all present and correct, very much in-character and entertaining. Cont’d…


  3. Cont’d
    In fact with the possible exception of a rather muted at-times Craig Charles, all four seemed more *in-character* than at any point since perhaps Red Dwarf V. John-Jules’s Cat is hilariously dumb while Llewelyn seems to inhabit Kryten better than he has in years, and this despite a rather odd make-up job and changes to his physique and costume that lead to a rather porky-looking android (check out his chestplate!). Most notable is the fact that – some flaws aside – Doug Naylor’s script feels more like “real” Red Dwarf than *any* of his previous post-Grant material. This show’s Rimmer (who isn’t the *original* hologram Rimmer presumably) may lack the emotional nuances of the II-V version but Naylor writes him very well, Chris Barrie is as usual brilliant (even if broad, mostly), and he is *very* funny. Naylor for the most part nails it with the comedy throughout, the first scene is a little awkward (with some odd-sounding audience laughter – and it *isn’t* a laugh-track) but this serves to set-up a hilariously silly joke later on involving Rimmer, a question on his astronavigation exam, and an answer involving a moose. Without wishing to spoil anything the episode’s plot – though flawed – ends up delving into Rimmer’s familiar personality problems and resentment of his long-dead but successful-when-alive brothers, the problem with Quantum Rods, and the perils of sexy simulants. It may not be perfect but it is very funny, it has impressive model shots, memorable charactes, and is, all in all the best Red Dwarf for 19 years. Recommended. Well done to the cast, Doug Naylor, and Grant Naylor Productions. I hope you like it, Jameson.


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