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Trivia / A Death in the Family

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  • Follow the Leader: In many ways, "A Death in the Family" was basically DC trying to canonize as much of The Dark Knight Returns into 'official' continuity as possible. You've got the hardboiled-verging-on-parody Batman, the more-vicious-than-ever-before Joker who effortlessly escapes Arkham and plays establishment powers like a fiddle, the death of Robin IInote , the geopolitics-choked plot, and - of course - the Hero Antagonist Superman who inexplicably sides with The Government solely to make things harder for Batman.
    • In other ways, it was essentially a sequel to The Killing Joke. It's implied that Joker's current stay at Arkham began due to his capture at the end of that story (referencing it multiple times, particularly as the last important action of The Joker), it centers around The Joker targeting a member of Batman's inner circle after an Arkham escape, Batman muses about how he feels like they're destined to kill each other and The Joker's survival at the end of the story is left ambiguous (but destined to happen).
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  • Trolling Creator: Jim Starlin has openly talked about how much he enjoyed writing this story and killing off Jason; his position is that he never cared for the concept of Robin and feels Batman works best alone.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: The story touches on a number of contemporary political and social issues of the 1980s, such as the Lebanese Civil War, the Arab–Israeli conflict, the Ethiopia famine, corruption and the handling of rogue states, the Iran-Contra case, etc.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Before coming up for the idea for this story, Denny O'Neil briefly considered having a character contract AIDS, as DC were thinking of doing an educational story about the AIDS crisis. They eventually held an office poll to nominate a character. Jim Starlin claims he stuffed the ballot box with Jason's name. They were discounted because they were all obviously his handwriting! Ultimately, the story never went ahead.
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    • Jason would have survived if the result of the phone poll had gone the other way. There's even an alternate ending to the issue where Jason dies, with Batman holding his body before proclaiming Jason was alive. In any case, Jason's mom was doomed to die. Not that she didn't deserve it, mind you. Had Jason survived, he would've ended up in a coma, with no one having any idea as to when, or if, he'd ever wake up. Beyond this, it seems nobody had any other plans for the character.
    • Jason was voted to die by a very slim margin, just seventy-two votes. There were 5,271 votes for him to live vs. 5,343 votes for him to die. Denny O'Neil says that years later,they discovered that someone had rigged the poll by setting up a computer to dial the hotline and vote "die" eighty-six times. If this hadn't happened, Jason may have never died at all... which is not to say he would have stayed, regardless.

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