By far and away the best work of the new 52 is Batman and the Night of the Owls arc. Fantastic writing by Scott Snyder with an intricate plot developed over the issues with suspense and surprise. The artwork by Greg Capullo was intricate, detailed and showed the disturbing and fearful nature of the owls and the issues involving Bruce’s loosening mentality. They have created a commotion just by the name of their new arc: Death of the Family. There is some essential reading to be done to appreciate this title but it shows the genius in their build up because we instantly know a number of things:
- The Joker is returning and without a face. There is a high probability he is going to murder someone close to us. The inherent idea that the Joker has no face is repulsive but what is more likely is that he has a new face and will not be easy to find. A chilling idea as the Joker is always instantly recognisable.
- The title refers to the original book, “Death in the family”, where the Joker killed Jason Todd, the second Robin. It was done in gruesome fashion using a crowbar to beat him and then exploded the warehouse he was in. There was significant psychological trauma to Batman, which was not overcome until Tim became his new ward. Currently we have all four Robins including Batman’s son living and breathing in the DC universe and it is a large family to target.
- Another iconic graphic novel portraying the sickness of the Joker and his torture of Barbara and Jim Gordon is “The Killing Joke”. He shoots Barbara and paralyses her with no hesitation and is only stopped from completely inducing insanity in Jim by Batman. A visit to her could easily be paid as well as torturing or killing Gordon.
It is an ominous title and the Joker’s actions are never predictable meaning anyone could be a target. The fact that Joker is unlikely to ever actually kill Batman he will torture him by murdering a Wayne or a Gordon. Ironically since Batman’s “death” he has created a large family and Batman corporation. There are many wards and protégés all over the world under his supervision. The potential targets are numerable which shows how much Batman has moved on from when Jason was killed. Damien is another important and new character to this as he is Bruce’s own flesh and blood and also his Robin. Is there a bigger target than his own child? It generally disturbs me to think about this arc and something bad is going to happen. Whatever the outcome his return will instil fear in Gotham and in all of us.