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Batman – A Death in the Family

October 7, 2008

When walking around your favorite comic store there will always be some book covers that will catch your eye. Covers, which are so unique, that you can’t resist picking up the copy. Well this week’s comic has exactly that.

A Death in the Family starts out with Batman and Robin (Jason Todd) preparing to bust some criminals. The Boy Wonder however attacks prematurely and puts the two heroes in jeopardy. After both of them return to Wayne manor, Batman decides that it is time for his protégé Jason to take some time off. Angry at this decision, the youngster runs off and while hanging around his old neighborhood he finds out that the woman he thought to be his mother had in fact only adopted him. Intrigued by this discovery he begins a quest to find his birth mother. In the meantime the Joker has once again escaped from Arkham Asylum. Robin’s search for his mother takes him to Beirut and ultimately Ethiopia, where he rejoins Batman, whose hunt for the joker also sent him to the Middle East. When Robin finally finds his mother, they are surprised by the Joker. The maniacal clown overpowers the young superhero and bashes his head in with a crowbar. He leaves him and his mother in a warehouse with a bomb and escapes. When Batman finally arrives at the scene, he is too late to save his sidekick. Batman swears to avenge Robin and it seems like this time he is out for blood.

Writer Jim Starlin, and artist Jim Aparo did the unthinkable in issues #426-#429 of the Batman series. Killing Batman’s sidekick was however not their own decision but that of the readers. They had planned two outcomes of the explosion in issue #427, one in which Robin dies and one in which he barely survives, and putting up a number for the readers to call in their vote. The final votes were 5271 for and 5343 against, and so Jason Todd had to die.

I must day that I did not entirely enjoy the whole “Jason is looking for his real mother” storyline. It felt unnatural and like an excuse. The best thing about it was probably the inner struggle of Batman. Would he finally break is one rule? Would he kill the Joker to avenge his protégé? A Death in the Family is one of the most tragic Batman stories and every fan should read it.

Story                  8

Art                      6

Reread Value     7

Overall rating    7/10

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