Title: Teen Titans: Volume 3, Death of the Family
Author: Scott Lobdell, Fabian Nicieza, Brett Booth, writers; Greg Capullo, Brett Booth, Greg Capullo, Jonathan Glapion, Tyler Kirkham, Batt, Norm Rapmund, Jon Sibal, Timothy Green II, Wayne Faucher, Eddy Barrows, Eber Ferreira, artists
Series: New 52
Publication Information: New York, NY: DC Comics, 2013
Library of Congress Classification: PN6728.T34
Dewey Decimal Classification: 741.5/973
Library of Congress Subject Headings:
Teen Titans (Fictitious characters)—Comic books, strips, etc.
Joker (Fictitious character)—Comic books, strips, etc.
Superheroes—Comic books, strips, etc.
Teenagers—Comic books, strips, etc.
Science fiction comic books, strips, etc.
Graphic novels—United States
“Death of the Family will go down as one of the best Joker stories in history”–Craveonline
This quote is from the cover. Is it one of the best Joker stories? More on that in a minute.
The Death of the Family is part of DC’s “New 52” which has recreated the DC Universe yet again. I followed the first re-imaging, The Crisis on Infinite Earths. This means that all the stories that have come before on all the DC characters no longer exist; the slate is wiped clean. It’s a new universe where the characters are re-introduced, and everything starts over again but with different twists.
One of my favorite Batman stories of all time is The Killing Joke, which was one of the first graphic novels. In it, the Joker destroys the crimefighting career of Barbara Gordon who, as Batgirl, fought alongside Batman. Her back is broken, thereby changing her entire life. That was a very disturbing story. The Death in the Family may be even more upsetting.
The Joker, more horribly scarred than he was in his last incarnation, kidnaps Batgirl, Red Robin and Red Hood–Barbara Gordon, Tim Drake and Jason Todd. In the last universe, Jason Todd was the new Robin after Dick Grayson left to become Nightwing. In yet another disturbing story, the Joker kills Todd after it was left up to the readers to decide his fate. This is when Drake joined Batman as his sidekick. In this current incarnation, Todd never died and had a falling out with Batman; Drake became Red Robin and took his place.
I became a fan of the Teen Titans when they were introduced as the New Teen Titans, drawn originally by George Pérez. Drake also is the leader of the Teen Titans even though they really don’t know his true identity although he knows theirs. We get Drake’s origin story that parallels Grayson’s. However, it’s hard to swallow Drake’s reasons for wanting to join Batman. I found it absurd.
The story quickly turns into a Batman story as the Titans fail to find their leader or Batgirl. The Joker has set this up to bring Batman to him, which works. The argument between Batman and the Joker is quite intense, as is what the Joker shows Batman he did to his young protégées.
Is this one of the best Joker stories ever? Definitely. It’s quite disturbing.