COMIC BOOK REVIEW - Batgirl: Death of the Family
By The Masked Medic
I did tell you that I was making more of an effort to read some comic books and get you guys more of these reviews! After a fairly decent hiatus from the Bat-Family, I thought it was time that I returned to read the second last tie-in for the ‘Death of the Family’ event! Since I’m leaving the main Batman novel to last, I thought I’d check in on Barbara Gordon, aka, Batgirl, and see how the Joker’s antics affected her!
‘Death of the Family’ starts with a one-shot issue which sees Catwoman bust one of the Talons out of prison. This Talon doesn’t speak and Catwoman sees herself feeling sorry for the young girl. However, the person who’s paid for the job wants to use the Talons to continue their mission of Terror. Batgirl breaks in to stop the plot, and together with Catwoman must take on a team of Talons. The actual crux of the novel, however, sees the Joker kidnap Barbara’s mother who has recently resurfaced. Not knowing that Barbara is her daughter, he ransoms her life to Batgirl in exchange for Batgirl agreeing to marry him. It’s all a little weird, I know. To confuse matters further, Barbara’s brother, James Gordon Jr. is also involved and attempts to leverage his mother’s life to hand over Batgirl to the Joker. Batgirl agrees to save her mother, but when the Joker reveals that he plans to cut off her arms and legs and keep her in a basement, old wounds resurface for Batgirl and she goes all gung-ho on the Joker and his goons. Cut to the crossover issue where the Joker has the entire Bat-Family tied up and bandaged and has created fakes of their faces, placed in front of them, to convince them he’s cut off their faces, and you have some seriously mentally scarred heroes. In the aftermath, Batgirl begins to hunt down both her brother and the goons hired by the Joker. Despite achieving some success, Batgirl finds that although her work to send the cops the details of the goons was invaluable, the best work she does is in the field and sets out to take some of them down herself. Can she catch these criminals and stop them from hurting more people? And just how will she stop her psychotic brother?
I think, bar Jason Todd, aka Red Hood, no one else has faced the devastating effects of the Joker’s actions as Barbara has. Therefore it was clear that this event tie-in was going to be a little more personal than some of the others, and in truth, it really did feel like that. The constant internal monologue that we get is fantastic to see from a character development point and for me was the first time that I got to see just how much Barbara’s headspace has revolved around that one event. Adding in the family connection, with her brother and her mother meant that ‘Death of the Family’ was an extremely apt title for this novel. I have to say, that I did find the whole Joker wanting to marry Batgirl a little weird, but then sometimes I think that female characters are underutilised and perhaps the only way to make them relevant is through romance?
I have to say, I thought the artwork for this comic was extremely apt for the character and the story. It felt dark and gritty and some of the scenes where Barbara fights Joker’s goons looked very 90’s which given the flashbacks to ‘The Killing Joke’ felt appropriate. I have to say, I wasn’t completely crazy about the covers but the one above seemed pretty cool. Overall, this novel felt like it had the most independent story of all the other tie-ins and I think the series is improving well!
I don’t think we often see this side to Batgirl in the comics, but she can be just as full of rage as Batman!
Clearly has to be Batgirl, especially in the novel's second half!
Story Arc: ★★★½
Character Development: ★★★★