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YMMV / A Death in the Family

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  • Alas, Poor Scrappy: Jason wasn't exactly the most favored character at this time, but lots of fans thought his Family-Unfriendly Death was... a bit too much. Frank Miller of all people said, "An actual toll-free number where fans call in to put the axe to a little boy's head... to me the whole killing of Robin was probably the ugliest thing I've seen in comics, and the most cynical." A major factor to this is most likely Wizard Magazine, which had a horrible habit of slamming characters or concepts they didn't like. There was even an April Fools Top Ten of Characters that should Stay Dead and Jason was #1. Thus, if it wasn't how brutal Jason was cut down, it was certainly because certain people wouldn't stop making fun of it. Which was arguably the point — fans wanting to see Todd written out of the series got precisely what they wanted.
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  • Common Knowledge: Yes, the Joker does beat Jason with a crowbar. However, he didn't beat him to death with it, as some mistakenly believe. What finished the job was getting left in a building he blew up.
  • Complete Monster: The Joker is as monstrous as ever. After escaping Arkham Asylum, during which he kills a number of people, the Joker steals a nuclear weapon with plans to sell it to terrorists during the Lebanon civil war. He also blackmails Jason Todd's mother Sheila into helping him obtain medical supplies that he withholds from the starving to sell them on the black market, replacing them with laughing gas that, when set off, will kill thousands of people. Capturing Jason Todd, the Joker beats him with a crowbar before killing him and Sheila with a time bomb. After getting a position as the Iran representative, the Joker holds a speech at an assembly, only to try and kill everyone in the building with poisonous gas.
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  • Franchise Original Sin: This, combined with The Killing Joke, established the Joker's Darker and Edgier trending, with the key moment in the story played humorlessly straight. Flash-forward to Death of the Family with the Joker skinning and wearing his own face...
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • It's suspected that Lady Shiva could be Jason's mother. While drugged with truth serum, she states that she's never had a child. Years later, her daughter, Cassandra Cain, becomes the second Batgirl. And Bruce notes that she seems to be about Jason's age. Epileptic Trees have led to some fans theorizing they're siblings because of this.
    • Batman mentions how the American embassy in Iran was taken over. Ben Affleck made a movie — Argo — based on the events of that before playing Batman. Furthermore, that take on Batman explicitly has a dead Robin's outfit in the Batcave as a Tragic Keepsake, with the Joker being responsible for the deed.
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    • In a dark mix of this and Harsher in Hindsight, Superman is called in by the government to stop Batman from killing the Joker as revenge for murdering his son. There's a dark, ironic chuckle to be had at this in light of Injustice: Gods Among Us, where their roles were reversed.
    • Every reason people didn't like Jason Todd and wanted him gone has been defiantly Turned Up to Eleven with Damian Wayne, very much into a Take That! rubbed in the faces of Todd's original detractors.
  • It Was His Sled: Jason Todd gets murdered by the Joker... At least for a time.
  • Mis-blamed: There is the oft-repeated fact Batman fans in the 80s "hated Jason Todd so much that they voted for him to die." This leaves out the fact that the readers who voted for him to live were actually more numerousnote , and that it was a single person who rigged the phone line to dial multiple times that tipped the vote over to the "death" side.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Again, The Joker, as he brutally tortures Jason Todd (the second Robin) right in front of his estranged mother Sheila, before killing both in an explosion.
    • Hell, Sheila herself for tricking Jason into the warehouse so that Joker and his men could ambush him when his guard was down. Sheila's reaction to this? Grimacing, then lighting a cigarette.
  • Narm: Jason's death is the thing everyone remembers about this story, but few remember just how bizarre it gets afterwards. In the last issue the Joker becomes the Iranian ambassador to the United Nations, and gives a speech that basically says that the Iranian government is just like him, because they both hate America. This was likely an attempt at being topical (the Iranian Hostage Crisis was still fresh in people's minds), but it makes very little sense and is impossible to take seriously.
    • Not only that - Superman saves the entire U.N. assembly from Joker's gas attack by sucking it all into his own lungs, something you'd ordinarily expect to find in only the cheesiest of Silver Age stories. While he's holding the gas, he even talks to Batman with no issue. A brief return of super-Ventriloquism, anybody?
  • Nightmare Fuel: Joker's absolutely brutal assault on Robin with a crowbar, delivered in a bright color palette typically seen in lighter DC Comics stories, was absolutely shocking and served to indicate that the days of Camp Batman comics were over.
  • What an Idiot!: What, exactly, do the United Nations expect a homicidal maniac like the Joker to do when he addresses them? Why on Earth did any of the other delegates even show up for his speech?
    • Could be a simple mix of Good Cannot Comprehend Evil and Refuge in Audacity; nobody legitimately believed that even the Joker (who, it must be acknowledged, traditionally doesn't operate outside of Gotham) could be crazy enough to murder the entire United Nations. Superman also acknowledges that there are wider political concerns due to the U.S.'s inability to just disregard diplomatic immunity despite the obvious risk posed by letting the Joker in like this.
      • It's also worth remembering that it's not common knowledge that the Joker is anything but an Ax-Crazy villain. Joker using a gas attack that he himself is immune to? Not expected by anyone but Batman and Superman, who correctly predicted this exact outcome.
      • A close reading of the text and situation implies that America fully expected The Joker to do what he did and wanted him to in the first place. Superman never states or even implies that hanging out at the UN in disguise for the situation was ever his own plan, and the US Government put him on the case of preventing Batman from doing anything to impede The Joker for reasons implied to go beyond merely not wanting a diplomatic incident. It's quite probable they wanted the ambassador for Iran to attempt a terrorist attack on the United Nations in order to completely sabotage Iran's reputation, putting Superman in place to make sure he didn't actually kill anyone. Batman missed the Batman Gambit.
      • If anything, Iran is the idiot here, handing literally every other country at the Assembly (including, possibly, its own allies) a cast-iron excuse to invade it.


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