(w) Scott Snyder
(p) Greg Capullo
And here I thought "The Court of Owls" was a big story. Silly me. "Death of the Family" gets expanded big time this week in Batman #14 (and in Batgirl #14). Scott Snyder reveals, with this issue, how well he knows both Batman and the Joker. Obviously, the Joker's absence from the 'New 52's first year was purposeful, but Snyder isn't letting the cat out of the bag all at once. But unlike the Clown Prince of Crime of the past, "Death of the Family" feels like it's going to be chaos with a meaning.
Joker is a villain who has always been unpredictable. So what's the best way to make a terminally unpredictable character even more unhinged? Make him do something Batman can see coming. Last month, Harley Quinn orchestrated a scenario to drown Batman in the same chemicals that turned the Joker into a psychopath. Bruce picks up on the hint and realizes that Joker is recreating their old encounters. Fans and critics alike have been debating for years whether Batman's crusade is effective, if he's actually making a difference in Gotham City, or simply abetting more crime. This is what speaks to Snyder's ability with the Dark Knight -- drudging up the past is the best way to get under Batman's skin, and Joker knows it.
Batman #14 is a stellar issue from beginning to end. Never before has Bruce's 'extended family' been such a focal point of a Batman story to such a degree. Obviously, Alfred Pennyworth was taken from Wayne Manor at the end of Batman #13, and Jim Gordon gets hit his month with a blood-thinning poison. Even without the big reveal at the end, I would highly recommend this issue. The final pages, though, change everything for Batman and the Joker. Scott Snyder is leading the march on a new era for Batman and his allies, and it's going to be a frightening, sadistic, horrifying, absolutely entertaining road.