Starting in October 2012, Death of the Family is the second Batman crossover spinning out of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's relaunchedBatman title, featuring The Joker's return to Gotham City. Like Night of the Owls before it, Death of the Family isn't a traditional crossover in the sense of the reader needing to read each title in a specific order. The main story will be told in the pages of Batman, while the other titles will tell their own stories within the larger arc. Titles that will tie into the story include Nightwing, Batgirl, Batman and Robin, Detective Comics, Red Hood and the Outlaws, Catwoman, Teen Titans and Suicide Squad. While the story begins in the 13th issue of Batman, the tie-in books will begin their stories in issue #14 or #15.The first issue of each title's Death of the Family story features special a die-cut cover illustrated by Batman artist Greg Capullo, in which a mask of the Joker's skin/face folds over an image of the starring character in each book.The storyline has met with some controversy: taking Joker's evil and magnifying it times eleven, the gory level of violence, the controversial decision to revamp Joker with him wearing his face like a masknote many fans were hoping the whole "Joker cuts off his face" plotline would be quietly ignored or retconned, and an incoming editor's initial firing of Gail Simone from her booknote which fan theory states was over her objections to the editorial mandates relating to the storyline being forced upon her (however, Gail was ultimately brought back due to fan outrage, though two issues after the storyline's formal ending ended up being written by a fill-in writer, whereupon Ms. Simone would write an ultimate epilogue to the Batgirl crossover portion of the storyline in Batgirl #19).But even with the controversy, the arc was critically acclaimed for its haunting atmosphere and for its further exploration into the relationship between Batman and the Joker, as well as the characterization of the two.
Acid Pool: Joker tries to drop Harley Quinn in one. She escapes, and Joker almost falls into it himself.
Aloof Ally: Batgirl acts like this to the Teen Titans. Kid Flash even tries to hug her... only to find out that she has devices on her suit to give people a shock.
Aluminum Christmas Trees: Hahnium sounds like a chemical made by Joker, but it is a real chemical (its periodic table symbol is Ha; hence why he picked it).
Ambiguous Situation: Does Joker really know the Batfamily's identities or is he just bluffing? So far, convincing arguments can be made for both possibilities.
The finale reveals he probably does know the Batfamily's identities on some level, but he just cannot see the Batfamily, especially Batman, as anything other than their masked identities.
And Then The Batfamily Were Clowns: In the finale, Joker turns the Batfamily sans Batman into insane and overly violent clown versions of themselves, who laugh madly while trying to cause as much harm as possible to each other.
Artistic License - Chemistry: Batman claims two of the chemicals in the vat that whoever became the Joker fell into were sulphuric acid and sodium hydroxide. They would neutralise each other (and not even particularly dramatically) if mixed. This may just be an example of And Some Other Stuff.
Badass Adorable: While the "adorable" part is debatable, Damian takes it upon himself to just attack Joker directly. He gets captured, but he put up a fight.
Badass Boast: Damian, all tied up and at the Joker's mercy, defiantly tells him, "I have nothing to say that would help you manipulate me, clown."
Badass in Distress: Batman gets captured by Joker and tied up. He manages to free himself.
Alfred, Damian, Tim, Dick, Jason and Barbara all go through this in the finale.
Bad Boss: Joker treating Harley Quinn as a punching bag, even more so than usual demonstrates this trope quite well.
The Bad Guy Wins: While it may not have been literal, The Joker has essentially brought about the metaphorical death of the Bat-Family.
Bait and Switch: The Joker makes it seem like he cut off the faces of Batman's family, only for it to be revealed that they're unharmed. However, in Red Hood and the Outlaws issue 17, it revealed that he rigged one of Jason's helmets to spray his face with acid simply because Jason came back from the dead and "ruined" his biggest joke on Batman.
Used to demonstrate just how desperate the situation is, Batman pulls a gun on Gordon to try to coerce him to move to a secure location. Barbara puts a gun to a Joker goon's head (and might have pulled the trigger) before he begs for mercy.
Later, in BatgirlBarbara pulls a gun on The Joker himself, planning to shoot him in the base of the spine, and the only reason she doesn't go through with it is because of the Joker's men pointing sniper rifles at her mother.
Berserk Button: Joker seems determined to jump up and down on Jason, Barbara, Damian and Harley's.
Bittersweet Ending:The Joker doesn't kill any allies of Batman's, but he drives first Alfred into an insane state and then does the same to Damian, Tim, Barbara, Dick and Jason; who all viciously beat each other while laughing madly and looking like Joker versions of themselves. Batman confronts Joker about what he's done, and Joker falls into a chasm with no body found. Although Bruce saves his allies, Joker has shattered the trust Batman's allies have in each other and in Batman due to the numerous breaking speeches and trauma he's given them. In addition, Bruce could not remove a small trace of modified dubnium from each of his allies... and the chemical dubnium used to be called "hahnium" and had the Periodic Element Table symbol "Ha".
Blackmail: Batman finds out that Joker has not only taken over Arkham Asylum, but he has blackmailed the guards into working with him.
Body Double: Batman takes on who he thinks is The Joker wearing a red hood at the ACE Chemical Plant. He pulls the hood off to reveal Harley Quinn.
Bloodier and Gorier: Gordon and Batman compare notes and agree that this Joker seems angrier; he killed all those cops with his bare hands, where before he would use henchmen or trick props. Add to that the Joker reenacting his old crimes, and why, it's almost as if something had been rebooted!
Damian found himself having to fight "Batman", only for it to be revealed to be an impostor. "Batman" is actually a martial arts master that owned his own dojo that Joker brainwashed and dressed up as Batman.
Alfred in the finale. The rest of the Batfamily sans Batman are only driven temporarily insane, where Alfred instead for a while acts as Joker's faithful butler before getting the insanity treatment with Batman's allies.
Break Them by Talking: When Batman goes to confront Joker at the Ace Chemical Plant, he find Joker wearing the red hood. Joker launches into this trope by saying that having an network of allies has made Batman soft and weak, and that Joker would be doing Batman a favour by getting rid of them. Batman ends up pulling off the hood to reveal Harley Quinn instead.
Batman does this to the Joker in the finale.
Broken Pedestal: The Batfamily is unhappy with Batman for keeping at least one secret from them. In fact, Joker could be counting on this trope to sabotage his enemies.
Buried Alive: Poison Ivy finds herself subjected to this by Penguin's thugs. It does not work, because she's a Plant Person, and Penguin's Dragon Ogilvy digs her out.
Cain and Abel: Barbara towards James Jr., thanks to him setting her up.
Call Back: Joker tells Damian how he can't really get people to laugh without giving them a pharmaceutical push first. In fact, Batman was apparently the only person he could get to actually laugh. In case you're wondering, Joker is referring to The Killing Joke, its ending to be specific.
Chemistry Can Do Anything: Subverted. The Joker was created by falling into a vat of random, sci-fi chemicals, but in this story, Batman meticulously lists every chemical in the mixture and is baffled at how it didn't just kill him.
Cold-Blooded Torture: Batman finds an audio tape that has Joker burning Alfred's eyes with ammonia. Batman is not pleased.
Covers Always Lie: One cover shows Harley Quinn and Joker going back to their abusive relationship. However, it turns out that there is nothing romantic between them, and Joker tries to kill her off as well as revealing that she's just part of a long chain of Harley Quinns that he has killed off at one or another. She escapes him and lets herself be put into prison.
Darker and Edgier: A number of people might laugh and say that Joker can't possibly achieve this trope at this point. Then they find out what Joker has been doing in Arkham Asylum, to the guards and staff members.
Darkness Equals Death: Commissioner Gordon and the Gotham City Police Department is just going about their business... when Joker turns the lights off. By the time they get turned back on, Gordon is alive and surrounded by a lot of dead cops.
Dark Secret: Joker claims that Batman has a secret that he has hidden from the entire Batfamily - one of Joker's calling cards was left in the Batcave, indicating that the Joker may have or had access to The Cave, though Bruce vehemently denies this is possible, hence why he never shared the information, and claims that the Joker is using this trope to turn the Bat-Family against themselves.
Death Trap: Catwoman gets trapped in a centrifuge by the Joker. The idea is to be spin her around really fast until it kills her. Just when she's about to escape that, the centrifuge get flooded in an attempt to drown her. She escapes that too.
Depending on the Writer: Harley Quinn. Snyder portrays her as an, at best, begrudingly willing participant in the Joker's scheme in Batman #13-14 (it's notable that her one appearance had her lamenting that the Joker she knew wasn't around anymore), but Adam Glass, who has "ownership" of Harley in Suicide Squad, focused as little time as he could with what Snyder wrote in Batman #13-14 in his tie-ins, resulting in the tie-ins showing Harley only assisting Joker to keep her team safe and her rejecting Joker after being made to serve him again.
Invoked by Joker of all people about Captain Boomerang, although mostly as a means of taunting Harley.
Penguin, Riddler, and Two-Face also call Joker out in the course of the storyline when they are roped into participating in Joker's plot as spectators.
Evil Counterpart: The Joker has always been this to Batman. However, this time he is figuratively borrowing pages from Batman's book, like turning off the lights to get the drop on a group of his enemies, and finding out the Batfamily's secrets so he can hit his enemies where it hurts.
Evil Has a Bad Sense of Humor: Joker is firmly under this trope this time. He tells Damian that he's not really a clown because he can't make people laugh without a pharmaceutical push.
Evil Makes You Monstrous: Assuming that Joker started out as an ordinary man, whatever turned him into a Monster Clown certainly has this trope happen to him. However, he has successfully outdone himself by first having his face removed, and then coming back one year later to wear it like a mask. Now he looks like a villain out of a Slasher Movie.
Evil Makes You Ugly: While his appearance beforehand wouldn't be described as good-looking, the Joker has had his face surgically removed at the start of the New 52 and is wearing it as a mask.
Suicide Squad was forced to tie into the storyline due to Harley being in the book. Needless to say (as stated in the Writer Revolt entry) Adam Glass does his damnedest to downplay the forced tie-in screwing up his storyline.
Gail Simone was fired off the book very suddenly by an incoming editor via e-mail, resulting in the fall-out of Batgirl's contribution to the storyline being given to a fill-in writer. After a massive fan-support by the internet, Gail was not only rehired back on as the on-going writer, but managed to, more or less, go in the direction she had wanted.
Face-Heel Turn: Subverted: Harley Quinn is blackmailed into helping the Joker when he threatens to destroy Deadshot's corpse (Harley doesn't know that Deadshot is not dead though), after realizing Harley has feelings for Deadshot and is quite pissed off about it. If you did not read Suicide Squad, you would not know about it and think she had gone evil again.
Facial Horror: The Joker had his face cut off at the start of the New 52, and has taken to wearing it as a mask using a belt to tie it to his head. Towards the end of the storyline it begins to show visible signs of decay with flies flying around it.
Failed a Spot Check: Catwoman finds herself trying to move giant chess pieces containing people around. She fails to notice a person's head sticking out of a pawn.
Fingore: Joker has Barbara Kean-Gordon hostage. He cut off her index finger with a ring on it, presents it to her, and asks her if she'll marry him.
Foreshadowing: All the tie-in covers that have Jokerized versions of Batman's allies on them.
Genre Savvy: Damian is smart enough to realize that Joker is very good at turning people's words into weapons to use against them. So he declares, "I have nothing to say that would help you manipulate me, clown." Unfortunately, it caused Joker to go into a rant about the term "clown", but at least Damian tried to be careful.
Informed Attribute: Every character seems to talk about how much scarier, more unpredictable, and unhinged The Joker is this time around. But killing and torturing loads of people, as well as going after Batman's allies, is hardly anything new for him. That is, unless you count his even worse treatment of Harley.
Irony: Joker is using this to create very darkly comedic crimes based after his first crimes. An example is when he threatens to kill the mayor at midnight, who is hiding in City Hall. Everyone but the mayor in City Hall dies, excluding Batman and Gordon.
It's Personal: Barbara Gordon had been left paralyzed by the Joker in The Killing Joke and Jason Todd had been murdered by him in A Death In The Family. Now that Joker is after both of them, Barbara and Jason have some scores to settle with him. Joker runs with this and poisons Jason's girlfriend and Commissioner Gordon, and kidnapping and mutilating Barbara's mother.
Joker Immunity: The Joker mocks his own immunity and asks Batman why he doesn't just kill him already. Batman confides to Alfred that the main reason he refuses to kill Joker is because he sincerely believes killing Joker wouldn't make things any better. Gotham would just send someone worse, or bring Joker back from the dead, or something. To Bruce, the Joker is just one facet of the true Big Bad of his story: Gotham City itself.
Kick the Dog: Joker infects Harley's Hyena's with rabies solely to hurt her. She does not take it well.
Kick the Morality Pet: Joker really kicks Harley Quinn this time around. This proves once again that he is monstrous.
Knight of Cerebus: Joker's reappearance in this new continuity has made the involved Bat-series even darker than before.
Laughing Mad: Disturbingly, Batman's allies do this when Joker turns them into insane clowns in the finale.
Legacy Character: Turns out Harleen Quintzel isn't the first Harley Quinn. She is, however, the first one to escape with her life. Though the only person who claims this is the Joker himself.
Harley Quinn has gone back to the Joker's side, and she even set herself up as a convincing decoy for Batman to go after at the Ace Chemical Plant. Played with, though, as it turns out she's not there solely out of loyalty to the Joker (and states that he's not her Mr. J any more); she's there because Joker threatened to desecrate Deadshot's corpse.
This seems to be Joker's motivation for his war on the Bat Family and why is forcing the other Batman rogues to join him.
Manipulative Bastard: Supposedly, Joker manipulated Batman into taking in Jason Todd as his ward and protege, and that he wanted Jason Todd to become the Red Hood. And that's not even getting into what he does in the actual story.
Meta Twist: Admit it, if you've read the story, there must have been one point where you thought Joker was going to kill at least one member of the Batfamily, as he so often implied. Yet, he didn't kill one and achieved a metaphorical "Death of the Family" by traumatizing the Batfamily to the point of shattering their confidence and trust.
Monster Fangirl: Harley Quinn once again. The sad thing about this is that it looked like she had moved on from him. It's also revealed that she's not the first Harley Quinn, nor the last- The Joker has apparently had numerous Harleys over his career, and considers them all disposable and forgettable. She is, however, apparently the only one to escape; stating that, while she loves the Joker, she's done being his toy.
Morality Pet: Harley Quinn has always tried to be this to Joker. Not this time. If anything, his behaviour towards her proves that he doesn't have any good side to bring out.
Mr. Exposition: Batgirl ends up being the one to bring the Teen Titans and by extension the reader up to speed on what's been going on in the storyline so far.
Ms Fan Service: Catwoman. As if to spell it out to readers, she escapes a death trap that ripped up her outfit... and shows off an insane amount of skin.
Nightmare Face: There is a very good chance that at some point, the Joker's... face is going to be shown. When that happens, it will not be a pretty sight.
Not Quite Dead: It looked Deadshot had been killed off. However, he wakes up in a hospital bed.
The Batfamily gets this at the end of the second main issue when Joker says he knows all their identities, and gives proof by talking about Alfred (who he tortured) and the Batcave.
Joker has this when he realizes that Batman really isn't playing anymore and has him dangling over the waterfall. not from fear of being dropped; but because Bruce is threatening to reveal Joker's real name.
OOC Is Serious Business: Joker has modified his Joker venom to leave it's victims' faces with a permanent frown instead of the grin it usually leaves them with.
Pop Cultured Badass: Batgirl goes in to brief the Teen Titans on the situation. She insultingly compares them to "the cast of iCarly".
Properly Paranoid: Funny enough, the Batfamily seems to be this about Joker, while Batman is not being paranoid enough. Turns out they were right to be.
Rant Inducing Slight: Damian at one point declares, "I have nothing to say that would help you manipulate me, clown." Joker goes off on a rant in which he repeats the word "clown" several times and then goes on to point out that he doesn't really qualify as one, because he could never make someone laugh without a pharmaceutical push.
Secret Identity Apathy: The Joker starts dropping hints that he knows who Batman really is, and Bruce realises there was a time when he could have figured it out. However he also realises Joker would have rejected the opportunity, because he doesn't want to think of Batman as being anyone but Batman.
Serial Killer: This tends to be part of Joker's characterization. In this storyline, he kills a lot of cops right in the police station, and kills everybody in City Hall except for the mayor, Batman, and Commissioner Gordon.
Sequel Hook: A disturbing one... Bruce cannot removed a modified strain of "Hahnium" from his allies though they all seem to be physically okay. Which, judging by issues of Teen Titans and Red Hood following the storyline, might have something to do with Tim & Jason's unusual behavior.
Sharp-Dressed Man: Averted with Joker. He's dressed up in a plain old jumpsuit, and is not even close to looking sharply dressed this time around. However, he gets the normal purple suit in the end.
The Dog Bites Back: When Clayface finds out that Poison Ivy was controlling him with a plant from the Amazon, he is... unhappy. So he goes to her and attacks her while her guard is down.
The Dreaded: Joker is usually this... and he seems intent on cranking it Up To Eleven this time.
The Man They Couldn't Hang: When Harley Quinn tries to point out to Joker that a girl always has a secret or two, he gets a noose made of chains around her neck and starts pulling, saying that she should "hang" around and tell him a few secrets. She survives this.
Tongue Trauma: Harley bites off the Joker's tongue and spits it out in front of him. It doesn't affect his ability to speak.
Undying Loyalty: Subverted with Harley Quinn to the Joker. She ends up fighting back, and escapes him. She also declares that while she may love him, that does not mean that she belongs to him.
Unholy Matrimony: Poison Ivy and Clayface have become a married couple. It gets subverted when it turns out that Ivy is using a plant from the Amazon to control him, and Clayface is broken free from it. Clayface is so unhappy about it that he decides to attack her while her guard is down.
Villain Has a Point: The Joker tells Batman that having an network of allies has made Batman soft and weak, that they are only holding Batman back, and that Joker would be doing Batman a favour by getting rid of them. Judging from what he's pulling on Alfred, Commissioner Gordon, Batgirl, and Jason Todd, he might actually have a point there.
Villainous Breakdown: Joker finally stops laughing and freaks out when Batman whispers that he knows Joker's real name.
Walking Spoiler: Everything about Harley Quinn in this storyline is a spoiler.
Would Hit a Girl: Joker punches Harley Quinn in the face, because... she had hubris on her face.
Adam Glass really didn't like having to tie into the storyline; after the forced tie-ins, he starts issue #16 off right when the last pre-Death In the Family issue leaves off and doesn't bring it up again. Glass also used his tie-ins to expand on Snyder's first two issues of the storyline, revealing that Harley was blackmailed into helping the Joker and have her and Joker fight it out as far as Harley rejecting the Joker and trying to bring him to justice.
J.H. Williams and Grant Morrison outright refused to have their storylines derailed by the crossover and as such, Batwoman and Batman Incorporated both are not part of it.
You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Joker says that he has done this to a long chain of Harley Quinns before the present one. He tries to do the same to her. However, she escapes him and lets herself be put in prison.
You Keep Using That Word: Joker is quite willing to point out to Damian that he doesn't really qualify as a "clown", despite being called this frequently.