YMMV: Death of the Family


  • Broken Base:
    • Fans are split between whether this a story that intelligently analyzes Batman, the Joker, and the relationships the two have with each other as well as their cohorts under a very dark and amazing lens, or a retreading of the same storylines and themes that almost all encounters between the two deal with nowadays while turning Joker into a Villain Sue.
    • Similarly, Joker losing his face (and some of the gory acts he commits in the storyline) is either creepy and edgy in terms of character demonstration, or ridiculously over the top and impossible to take seriously. Interestingly, Detective Comics #1, where Joker gets his face removed, was written by Tony Daniel, but before his plans with that idea were revealed, he left Batman, and the Death of the Family saga's writer, Scott Snyder, had to deal with the removed face and go in his own direction with it, since it would be very difficult to effectively retcon.
    • Some people think the symbols and ideas in the story (Joker genuinely loving Batman, the whole king and jester parallel, etc) aren't bad ideas in and of themselves but the Joker's characterization ruins their effectiveness because he prattles on and on about them in practically all of his conversations with Batman, ruining any kind of subtlety the story could have had.
  • Complete Monster: The Joker is as monstrous as ever. Starting by attacking the Gotham City Police Department to retrieve the face he had cut off, he murders nineteen police officers and threatens to kill Mayor Hady, but instead kills Hady's police guards. Reenacting old crimes, the Joker attempts to poison Commissioner Gordon and blows up the Gotham reservoir. The Joker hunts down the whole Bat-Family, trapping them in the Batcave and leaving them soaked in gasoline while he forces Batman to watch. He attempts to set them ablaze before Batman stops him, but leaves a contingency: his special Joker gas to force them to kill one another if not for their Heroic Willpower. The Joker here shows how terrifying he can be when he decides to cut loose and is defined by his twisted obsession with and desire to hurt Batman.
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: This and the following arc "The Pearl" (which had Damian Wayne dying and the rest of the Bat-Family grieving in one way or another-like Batman becoming a workaholic Knight Templar again) pretty much triggered this on Batman-related titles. The Broken Base reactions about The Joker are either the tinder, the fuel, or the whole damn fire-needless to say, people found this arc depressive.
  • Foe Yay: Taken Up to Eleven here. The Joker's plot against the Bat-Family could even be seen as a male (and even more twisted) version of Woman Scorned.
    • This is essentially confirmed by some of the interviews with Snyder detailing his ideas for a follow-up when the Joker inevitably comes back; Plus, when Batman declares that he's through with the dances and games and the like in the finale, the Joker appears to be slicking back his hair and adjusting his tie in a manner that suggests he expects Batman to confess his love for him at last.
  • Ho Yay: The Tim/Jason relationship, including the way the Joker positions their bodies after knocking them out, gives off this vibe.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Harley Quinn. It's no secret that she is a villain. However, when you see the Domestic Abuse Joker puts her through and the fact that she's not really enjoying it this time around, you will feel sorry for her. She goes so far as to tell Batman how whacked out the Joker is this time. Now that's jarring for her character.
  • Magnificent Bastard: The Joker using incredibly meticulous planning and master manipulation in order to break up the Bat-Family. And it works.
  • Narm:
    • In Batman #16 Joker at one point dramatically in a one page spread yells for Batman to "Sit. [His] Ass. Down!" Only for the word "ass" to be censored, in a series that involves the Joker wearing his decomposing face as a mask, as well as beating a child on-panel.
    • Lots of the Joker's lines come across as this.
    • Joker wearing his own face as a mask can come off as really dumb and trying way too hard to be freaky.
  • Nausea Fuel: The Joker's face has begun to rot in the year since its removal.
  • Squick: Joker got his face back, and he's used a belt to wear it like a grotesque mask. He wears it upside at one point, with his eyes visible from it's mouth and vice versa. Towards the end of the story it even begins to rot.
  • Tear Jerker: In the conclusion issue, after the Batfamily remove their bandages to find that their faces are still attached and the Joker had created fakes, Bruce shares a rare tender moment with his son. This in and of itself is somewhat of an emotional climax for the two of them, but it becomes much worse when you know that chronologically the very next thing that happens is Damian's death.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: The aftermath of the story was swiftly forgotten about less than two months later, with the fallout of Damian Wayne's death in the unrelated Batman Inc. #8 taking precedence in the Batman books. Nightwing and Red Hood & the Outlaws were the only two titles directly affected, with Nightwing relocating to Chicago after his Trauma Conga Line and Red Hood choosing to have his memories erased because of how much the Joker has affected his life, whilst Teen Titans and Batgirl carried on as if nothing had happened.
    • A criticism of the time was that the reason the event couldn't work in the first place is because, as of the New 52, there was no real family to 'kill' and Batman had turned from being an Informed Loner into an actual loner.
  • Villain Sue: The Joker has been criticised by many for being this. Some complaints say he borders on Jeph Loeb's Hush levels at times.