Batman and Robin Volume 3: Death of the Family

Batman and Robin Volume 3: Death of the Family
Batman and Robin Death of the Family review
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: DC - 978-1-4012-4268-8
  • Volume No.: 3
  • Release date: 2013
  • UPC: 9781401242688
  • Contains adult content?: no
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: no
  • Positive minority portrayal?: no
  • CATEGORIES: Superhero

Batman and Robin is driven by the tension between ten year old Robin wanting to prove himself to his father, and Batman well aware that even with Robin’s formidable skillset there are things he’s best kept away from. Peter J. Tomasi comes up with a clever method of Robin proving himself for an extended opening story unconnected with the title crossover. He arranges an international scavenger hunt hoping to prove he can outwit his father. It’s a delight from start to finish, with Robin playing a different game from the one Batman assumes, and with good art from Ardian Syaf, who has to draw a very different Batman.

The remainder of the collection ties in with ‘Death of the Family’ a crossover story in which the Joker targets anyone associated with Batman. This is a Joker ramped up to a horrific level where it moves anything he’s involved in to an adult level. In possibly the most distasteful plot ever run at DC he slices off his own face, and he’s now retrieved the flesh and stapled it back onto his head upside down. This Hannibal Lecter level of psychotic darkness shouldn’t be the stuff of standard Batman comics. As Batman and Robin has been infused with psychological and emotional drama from the start Robin’s encounter with the Joker has an eerie quality, but despite occasionally smart dialogue among the Joker’s ravings, it’s dull over the opening chapter. There the saving grace is Patrick Gleason’s imaginative art, but it sets up a better second half in which Tomasi incorporates the crossover circumstances into his own plots. The result is, briefly at least, a conflict some while in the coming, but unresolved.

DC can’t always be counted on to include tie-ins integral to ongoing continuity in their trades, but considerately do so here with Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s conclusion to ‘Death in the Family’. It’s dreary and overblown, button-pushing horror as Batman and Robin undergo the tortures of I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here!, but with the Joker cackling away in the background instead of Ant and Dec.

After the horrors of the title story, Alfred, Batman and Damian’s nightmares in the closer are tame, but they’re smart, Tomasi including decipherable references attuned to the nature of the dreamers. Again, Gleason’s pages crackle with dark energy.

Any reader captivated by the title story and its crossover chapters is going to consider Death in the Family a decent collection, but for anyone else the highlights will be the Joker-free opener and the almost Joker-free closer. Tomasi and Gleason’s vision continues in Requiem for Damian. Alternatively Tomasi and Gleason’s entire series is found as the Batman and Robin Omnibus.