Two years ago there was this study done that was reported by Science Daily with the title: “Spoiler Alert: Stories Are Not Spoiled by “Spoilers”. One of the PhD students quoted in the article had this to say: Once you know how it turns out, it’s cognitively easier — you’re more comfortable processing the information — and can focus on a deeper understanding of the story.” This study popped up in my mind after reading Batman #17. This issue is shocking but for many different reasons and revealing any spoilers would not help.
Ever since seeing Heath Ledger’s rendering of the Joker along with Arkham Asylum’s videogame counterpart, the comics have been in a bind. How do you up the ante? In fact is even possible to add layers to the mythos of Batman and Joker? To do so there has to be consistency in how the Joker is portrayed, especially for the synergy of all the mediums. One can easily see how Scott Snyder’s “Death of the Family” has been an attempt to cater to the new audience that has been attracted to the New 52 paradigm brought to us by DC, while feeding long time readers with allusions and references to iconic stories like “The Killing Joke”.
Snyder’s portrayal is problematic to me as reader of Batman comics for close to three decades. In almost every interview Snyder has reiterated tired clichés of how the Joker is the court jester to Batman’s noble feudal knight/king. Fine. Yet, in Nolan’s universe the Joker is the antithesis to The Batman, the ying to to his yang – in their portrayals there is harmonious duality. In Snyder’s “Death of the Family” the Joker is more sinister than chaotic as opposed to Nolan’s Joker whose essence is captured with this quote: “ Do I really look like a guy with a plan? You know what I am? I’m a dog chasing cars. I wouldn’t know what to do with one if I caught it!”
Snyder’s Joker is not pure chaos. To be clever, Snyder reveals to us that Joker cares deeply for Batman, which is shown quite literally in the artwork of the great reveal. Snyder’s supposed, “love letter to the Joker” is certainly an attempt to redefine the mythology. Does Snyder succeed? Yes, because the Joker quite literally has the last laugh. Will there be ramifications? I suspect that they will be deep and have a profound affect for all parties involved. But will this issue be a landmark for posterity? That remains to be seen. The ending is like a twisted version of the classic Batman television show; instead of seeing the result immediately next week, I think the ramifications will linger and finally fester – and will come back to haunt Batman. If that turns out to be the case, I suspect this issue will automatically be upgraded from very good and intriguing to iconic status.
[Written by contributor Marvin Dupree]
Writer: Scott Snyder
Art: Greg Capullo, Jonathan Glapion
Variant Covers: Greg Capullo, Batt, Tony S. Daniel
Sale Date: Feb 13 2013