JOKER's Return: Clues To 'DEATH OF THE FAMILY'
The event, which will have tie-ins in several DC comics, spins out of a story starting in Batman #13 by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo. After the success of their "Court of Owls" storyline and the subsequent tie-in event "Night of the Owls," DC is hoping this event will be even bigger.
Snyder is getting to utilize his favorite Batman rogue for his follow-up to "Court of Owls," calling this the biggest, most impactful Joker story in years. "This is really my big exploration and love letter to the Joker," Snyder told Newsarama.
So what clues have we been given about the New 52 version of The Joker? How will his return impact the Bat-family characters, now that their histories have changed? And what have the Bat-writers been hinting about their tie-ins to "Death of the Family?"
At the heart of the "Death of the Family" storyline appears to be the question of whether or not The Joker knows the identities of the Bat-family and, in turn, Batman himself.
The solicitations for the "Death of the Family" issues of Batman includes this question: "What must Batman do to protect his secret identity and that of those who fight alongside him?"
Scott Lobdell also revealed a similar description to Newsarama in our recent interview:
"Joker may or may not know your identity, and that is maybe the most horrifying part," Lobdell said. "Imagine, as crazy as the Joker is, you can at least go to bed secure in the knowledge that once you take off the mask you are a little safer. But if he knows who you are....aiyeee!"
Batman #14Although there have been several changes to DCnU characters thanks to last year's reboot, Snyder indicated in an interview with Newsarama that this isn't a different version of the Joker.
"You will see the iconic face and the grin, and he might look a little bit different and scarier," Snyder said. "But you'll find that he's still himself at his core. And he's really here in his blood-stained clothes going to work."
The history of the relationship between The Joker and Batman — like The Joker being his greatest enemy and the terrible things he's done to Jason and the other members of the Bat-family — are still a part of the DCU history. And according to Snyder, they fuel this storyline.
And although The Joker has been gone from the pages of the DCnU for the last year, according to Snyder, he's been spending that time planning and planting traps. "A year ago, Joker decided, I'm going to walk away from Gotham, I'm going to plan my revenge, and I'm going to come back in a year and bring it all back," the writer said. "So this is what he's been planning to do for a long time. And all of those things are set in motion."
"Of The Family?"
While Snyder has promised that the story in Batman will be "100 percent self-contained," the story crosses over into several other titles.
Suicide Squad #15
As James Tynion IV told Newsarama earlier this week, "There’s always something electric when two iconic villains are on a page with one another, and when one of those characters is The Joker, that electricity is quite a bit more deadly."
"The Joker story is really a huge turning point and changes a lot of things" for Nightwing, Higgins said. "There will be seismic shifts coming out of the Joker story."
But perhaps the most anticipated reunion will be those between The Joker and the two more immediate members of Batman's heroic family who have been traumatized by him in the past.
As readers found out in Red Hood and the Outlaws #0, Jason Todd is more closely connected to The Joker than her realizes. Joker claims that he orchestrated most of the major events in Jason's life, from his father going to jail to his mother's OD on a drug laced with a chemical that simulates death. It appears that The Joker built Jason up, just so he could tear him down.
This adds more gravity to their meeting — something Lobdell hinted about in his interview with us. "Joker feels a lot closer to Jason than people have realized. Giving birth to someone is a very intimate experience, but so too is taking their life. In that way, Joker feels a sort of proprietary relationship with Jason that he doesn’t with any of the other Bat-family."
"'Resolved' is kind of a tough word, here," Simone told Newsarama in July. "There's definitely a feeling out there regarding this stuff that someone is fixed or not fixed, like an on/off switch. It's not that binary, but she is facing this stuff head on. And I am pretty sure a Joker/Batgirl story is inevitable, but I can't say more than that. Think of two trains on the same track facing towards each other...there's nowhere for either of them to go but towards collision.
"It is the once-and-for-all confrontation between the Batgirl and the man who shot and paralyzed her. It does not go as he expected," she said.
"This story starts in issue #14, and I have to say, it's pretty shocking. That's all I'll say right now, however."
The Mask of Joker
One of the most obvious changes to the Joker we'll see in "Death of the Family" is that he's wearing the loose skin of his face as a mask.
"He really is going to, obviously, have a new look. At the same time, we want it to echo his iconic look," Snyder told Newsarama. "So it's Joker in a much more horror movie fashion."
Or perhaps he has been wearing a different face? Maybe even the face of someone close to the Batman family?
It's doubtful, since Snyder didn't build this story from the Detective ending. He told Newsarama his "Death of the Family" story was formulated before Detective writer Tony Daniel chose how to end his first issue last year.
So what will Joker look like when he returns?
On the cover of Batgirl #15, DC revealed the basics of how the Joker will now "wear" his familiar smiling face. He has constructed a mask out of the skin of his face, using hooks and a belt wrapped around the back of his head.
But artist Greg Capullo intends to make that look even creepier than we've seen on that cover. "I've established the main look with the belt in the back and the hooks in the mouth, kind of holding everything in place, but think about that," he told CBR. "You move in different ways, and that skin can shift on you. Maybe a hook busts loose, and part of your face is flapping free.
But perhaps the most telling comment Capullo has made about the way Joker will look was in his Newsarama interview a couple months ago, when he said, simply, "it's going to be over-the-top, over-the-edge Joker stuff."
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