James Gordon Jr. is every hero’s nightmare, because he’s family. And even though he’s been gone for a long while, he knows everything there is to know about Batgirl, making him the perfect villain. Ever since his appearance in Detective Comics, readers have been anxious to see what happens next with him. Not to mention, Gail Simone has been setting up his return for months now, building towards the ultimate showdown. Even though Simone didn’t get to write that showdown, Ray Fawkes has done a really good job with it. James is a formidable foe not because he’s strong, but because he’s smart. He plans for everything in advance, biding his time to strike at the most opportune moment, and even though Firebug makes a strange appearance, I’m willing to bet James had a hand in it. There were certain things in the issue that didn’t click; Barbara Sr.’s character seemed completely different, James’s inner dialog was a tad tedious, and for now at least, we don’t particularly have a clear idea of James’s agenda. That being said, the issue was still quite enjoyable. 4/5
It’s the issue we’ve all been waiting for, whether it was in excitement or just to be rid of the Joker overload. In either case, what we received was an action packed, drama filled adventure. The issue starts off with Batman and the rest of the Bat-Family at the mercy of Joker, who’s having the time of his life messing with their minds. Luckily for the Bat-kids and Alfred, though, even when he’s down Batman’s got a couple tricks up his sleeve. This issue is everything it should be. It was evenly paced with emotional scenes mixed into action scenes, it tied up all the tie-ins, and most of all it delivered what the title promised. What makes “Death of the Family” such a compelling story is that unlike most arcs, the villain’s endgame was never to thwart the hero. Joker didn’t want to outwit Batman, or kill Batman; in his own crazy way he wanted to make Batman better. Of course, most people would consider a Batman without his Bat-family to be weaker. In the end, even though he fell off a ledge and is probably off somewhere licking his wounds, Joker won. He killed the family, for now at least. 4.5/5
If you thought “Death of the Family” ended with Batman #17, you’re wrong. When a series ties into a story as large as “Death of the Family,” there needs to be an issue or two that deals with the aftermath. This is that issue and Tomasi handles it perfectly. I’ve complained a countless number of times of Tomasi’s portrayal of Damian as a psychopath, however, with these last couple of issues he’s almost a completely different character. Tomasi has finally found that balance between Damian the kid and Damian the boy trained to be an assassin, and it is fantastic. This issue deals with Joker’s aftermath in the form of nightmares. The readers get to see into the characters’ deepest fears, and it shows us that they’re human, that just because they deal with things like this on the daily doesn’t mean they just shrug it off. While Snyder might be writing the epic Batman tales, Tomasi has perfected the heartwarming, family stories. 4.5/5
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