Every superhero has a Joker. He’s the villain all villains aspire to be, the ultimate enemy, the one villain that can upend the heroe’s life with a snap of their fingers. And while the Joker is a part of Batgirl’s life, I feel like James Jr. is her ultimate villain. He’s the antithesis of who she is and what she believes in. Even with Joker looming, he is still screwing with Barbara, going so far as to lead her to Joker. All of this “Death of the Family” reads almost like a prelude to an ultimate showdown with James Jr. Granted, this is the Joker, so he’s not exactly a mini-boss. Gail Simone has been doing a solid job integrating Joker into this book. He’s dark, scary, and has strong emotional ties to Batgirl that are most likely going to push her to the edge, and it will be fun to see how she handles it. 4/5
When you’ve got a character as dynamic as Joker, the possibilities are endless. Snyder’s take on Joker is one of the scariest depictions yet. After feeling neglected during Batman’s year long disappearance, as can be read in Batman: Return of Bruce Wayne, he’s spent the last year or so plotting his revenge. As crazy as that sounds, it actually gets even crazier. Joker is back better than ever. He’s calculative, he’s manipulative, he’s sadistic, and for the moment, he’s two steps ahead of Batman. In recent years Joker has been relegated to a supporting role of sorts, never actually taking the lead as head villain. Here, however, Snyder’s delivering a story where Joker is king and all the other villains in Gotham are the jesters. Capullo, Glapion, and FCO continue to be the masterful art team they’ve been this entire series. Their art presents a unique blend of cartoonish figures with a more gritty realism. 5/5
The adventures of Batman and Robin, father and son, continue in a somewhat bizarre turn of events. In a nutshell, Robin allows himself to get captured to save some civilians, a crazy cult reveals itself, there are zombies, and somehow the Joker is involved. This is an example of how a slightly strange but decent story can get ruined by a crossover event, regardless of how amazing that event may be. For the first time in this whole series, Damian hasn’t been portrayed as a sadistic psychopath; rather, he’s been thoughtful and generally a decent kid. While the zombies were a tad cheesy, the two part issue was a solid solo Robin story; however, the conclusion felt rushed and the need to connect it with “Death of the Family” was unnecessary. Hopefully the actual tie-in issues are more relevant. 3.5/5
Superboy has always been a great character, when it comes to being part of a team. He worked well with Young Justice, the Teen Titans, Tim Drake, and even solo adventures with a partner. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have much of a supporting cast in this series, and he’s been involved in way too many crossovers; because of that the series is struggling. Much like Superboy, who feels lost and out of place, this series is lost and out of place, and the upcoming Superman crossover event is surely not going to help things. While the art looks fantastic, it can only do so much to keep readers interested, if they have to buy more books just to complete one story. 2.5/5
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