Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Greg Capullo
This has been my personal favorite story to have come out of the New 52, and I'm slightly sad to see it end, but everything has to end, and it's better to end whilst ahead, as some stories drag on, and lose quality cause of that.
The grand finale to the Death of the Family crossover. Joker has all the Bat-Family sat around a table with Batman at the head of the table. The fates of everyone involved is in the balance, and Batman has to figure a way to stop Joker, without anyone dying.
A brilliant way to end a terrific storyline. Scott Snyder has done a brilliant job on this story, and like he's done throughout he's ended it in a way that is very entertaining. The thing I liked about this issue was that nothing was has it seemed. Okay some of my own speculations were hinted in this issue (as to what was under the trays), but at the same time Snyder gave something that nobody could have fully predicted, and if they did I'd be surprised, and amazed. I also liked that Snyder continued to toy with me as a reader by pushing me a little closer to the goal whilst moving it by miles. I always like when you're questioning the contents of an issue, and this issue does this brilliantly, as I was questioning it before during and after reading the issue.
As usual the art was amazing and Greg Capullo did a fabulous job. His work on the series has been nothing short of phenomenal, and although he's not my favorite Batman artist he has done something very different with this series, and I will always remember it. His style of artwork more than suites this story, and I have really enjoyed the gruesomeness of his artwork throughout. Capullo also puts ton's of detail into his work, and it's easy to notice, as you have a character like Joker, who has his removed face as a mask. The detail in Capullo's art shows all the decay, and rot on Joker's face, and it's truly wonderful. He also adds suspense and drama with his artwork, and I love that he tries to show Batman in the shadows every now, and then without using it as an excuse to lower the work load.
As I said earlier Snyder and Capullo did a brilliant job with the suspense in this issue, and that was one of the things I loved most about the issue. At the start of the issue it is highly speculated to what's underneath the trays that Joker showed each member of the Bat-Family at the end of their tie-in stories. I also loved that despite the speculation that there was still a lot of variables that Snyder kept hidden till later on in the issue, and that he didn't spoil them at the start of the issue. The only minor annoyance I had with the issue however was during this sequence. Although I liked the suspense it kind of took away from the dread that the tie-ins ended on, but it was minor, and I personally would prefer having that than losing the suspense.
I loved that the symbolism was still on show in this issue, mainly with the first page of the issue having a skeleton bat coming out of the dark. It shows the role reversal between Batman, and Joker, whilst also showing how Joker's perspective on Batman, which is Joker feels that Batman should be in the darkness, and that the Bat-Family have exposed his, bringing him into the light (or at least that's how I see it). I liked this as at the end of the day this is what is driving Joker in doing what he's doing, as he wants a focused Batman that has no baggage to hold him down.
The coup de grâce was that there was a fight between Joker and Batman. How could this issue not end without the two arch rivals fighting one another. The fight was nothing short of outstanding, and it really added to the story. The dialogue during the fight couldn't have been any better, as it added to the speculation as to what either person knows about the other. I also liked that Joker started to act more serious, and that Batman changed into an entirely new gear. It showed how far he'd been pushed, and that he was still able to think of an ingenious plan that allows him to play things his way, and not Jokers.
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!
I usually hate giving away spoilers, but for anyone that can't contain themselves, and want's to know the outcome of this issue read the paragraph bellow.
What happened to the Bat-Family? Nothing. Joker was only playing a game with them, and although he planned to kill them he never succeeded. What did Joker know? Nothing again. It is revealed that Batman visited Joker as Bruce Wayne, and that although it was obvious by Bruce's conversation that he was Batman, Joker couldn't care less for his identity by blanking him out, not wanting to ruin his personal fun. What has this done to the Bat-Family? A lot. The events in this storyline will affect ever member of the Bat-Family in some way or another, and it will also be questionable as to whether the Bat-Family still trusts Batman. What happens to Joker? He falls down a waterfall loosing his face mask. It is unknown whether he's dead or not, but I'd be surprised if he was.
This was a brilliant end to a extraordinary story. It will be hard work to top this story but I wouldn't be at all surprised if Snyder manages to do it. I would highly recommend both this issue and the entire storyline which hasn't disappointed (at least not in this series).