Batman: A Death in the Family by Jim Starlin

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“It’s painfully obvious which path I must choose. The question is: How will I ever be able to live with this decision?”

— Jim Starlin, Batman: A Death in the Family

       Let’s cut to the chase. If the cover of this trade paperback doesn’t single-handedly give away one of the biggest events in Batman’s history, then something’s wrong. Aside from the fact that Batman : A Death in the Family is considered to be one of the most important reads for comic fans and that the death of a Robin is seldom tragic, this volume was a stunning disappointment. I’ll be frank, I jumped into the volume without prior knowledge of the story to expect or even the additional content introducing the new Robin—yes, my friends, there are more than one Robin’s out there. Oh, don’t give me that look. With all those different costumes and physical disparities compared to the original Robin, you’re going to tell me that the kid behind the mask was always the same? Batman : A Death in the Family jumps directly into an action scene with an emotional and aggressive Robin who later finds out a truth that will change his purpose in life. With the intention of uncovering the details behind this truth, he sets himself on a journey outside of Gotham while Batman tries to stop the Joker from launches a nuclear disaster. Filled with coincidences in a step-by-step adventure, Jim Starling and friends write up a story with one key moment. A death in the family.

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“You must be punished! Prepare yourself for a severe spanking, young man. But let me tell you right from the start… This is going to hurt you a lot more than it does me.”

— Jim Starlin, Batman: A Death in the Family

      The main storyline called A Death in the Family is separated in 4 books. Collecting them all into one, this trade paperback also adds a follow-up story to A Death in the Family in order to introduce a new character into the Batman family. Funny thing about this so-called masterpiece is how Robin’s fate was decided by the public. In fact, there was an advertisement that went around to get people to call and vote for Robin to live or die in this story arc. As tight as the votes were, the decision was made and history was changed. The main attraction to this trade paperback is the gruesome death delivered by Batman’s greatest foe. As much as the story was linear and filled with some of the biggest coincidences, the final scenes related to Robin’s death is nonetheless memorable. The sheer cruelty in the violence and the execution of the murder is simply iconic and will forever be remembered.

     The narration in this volume was absolutely annoying. Personally, I couldn’t stand Batman’s inner voice. It’s crazy how robotic and systematic it was. To top it off, some of his thoughts were simply unrealistic and over-zealous. To put it out plainly, some things are better off left to be deduced. Readers don’t need a narration that spells out the obvious or one that tries to make Batman sound rational from the inside. Let the actions do the talking. Maybe this comes to down to personal taste, but I felt like the writers tried too hard in trying to explicitly indicate Batman’s thought process, desiring an awe-effect from readers. As if Batman’s calculated and split-second decisions should impress readers on the spot. In the end, the direction the narration went only resulted in a funny-talking Batman who’s desire to push away—while still keeping close—the highly emotional and mourning Robin.

       For a volume that is proclaimed a ground-breaking classic, I was quite dissatisfied by the storyline. I honestly did not expect the story to take place outside of Gotham most of the time, especially not in Middle East and Africa. This made room for a less serious take on the events and a less appealing story where major characters are killed off. The worse part in all this is the last book in the 4 part story arc. With the arrival of another superhero and a ridiculous political twist to the storyline, I was left brain-dead and mouth open. Thankfully, I was able to reconcile myself by admiring the artwork and remembering myself that I’ve just witnessed one of the biggest events in Batman’s universe. Speaking of the artwork, Batman: A Death in the Family has the colorful and classic style of the old comic age. I’ll always be able to appreciate this art, no matter the story. I was actually quite amused by the looks for Robin (them legs, though).

     To add more flesh to this skeleton, Batman: A Death in the Family also contains a couple of additional single issues that follow up to the events in the main story arc. Essentially, the additional stories added at the end revolves around the arrival of a new Robin and his rise to the mantle of Batman’s side-kick. What’s fun about this story is the panel-time that the New Teen Titans get. Seeing Cyborg, Starfire and even Raven was quite satisfying. Although readers aren’t given the chance to see them kick-ass or use much of their powers, being able to see their design back in the days is fascinating. The story pertains to finding out where Nightwing has disappeared to, while Batman faces Two-Face in a fight that seems to lead him to defeat. In the meantime, an unknown character tries to find and get Nightwing to help a morally destroyed Batman; after all, he lost Robin. The introduction to this Robin is weak, but interesting. It does make me want to learn more about the character, even if the way he got the “job” could be summed up to blackmail. But hey, to each their own way to success!

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“I created Batman to project an image. It succeeded. To be effective, the symbol has to be greater than the reality.”

— Jim Starlin, Batman: A Death in the Family

       Although this volume was surprisingly disappointing, it still remains an essential to any Batman fan. It sets the foundation to other story arcs that are much more amazing; yep, I’m looking at you Batman : Under The Hood. This trade paperback is bound to put you on an adventure and discover more about Robin and Batman’s relationship. If the full-page panel showing Batman carrying a bleeding and lifeless Robin doesn’t send chills down your spine, we’re going to have to talk about therapy options. Batman: A Death in the Family is definitely worth reading, and you shouldn’t skip the occasion to see Joker’s plan to sell missiles to terrorists, Robin’s bitter fate, Batman’s misery due to the loss of a partner and plenty of other unpredictable surprises.

Did you read A Death in the Family? What did you think about this trade paperback?

You haven’t, you say? How about you read this story for yourself!

You can purchase a copy of Batman: A Death in the Family by clicking on this hyperlink !

Don’t forget to share your thoughts in the comment section below, as well as like and follow us so we can get you guys more reviews to enjoy!

MY OVERALL RATING: ★★★☆☆/

Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 11.24.49 PM

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9 thoughts on “Batman: A Death in the Family by Jim Starlin

    • transhaan says:

      Thank you so much! Yep, I think everyone knows what essentially happens in this trade. But stunningly, there’s a lot more in it, and now I understand why people don’t talk about those parts! 😀 You should definitely check it, for the sake of knowing what happens to Robin! Thanks again for checking my review, happy to hear your thoughts as well. 😀

      – Lashaan

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Chris Evans says:

    Sorry to hear you were disappointed with this one my friend, true it’s not quite the masterpiece some would make it out to be but it’s still an important and influential story – the death of Jason Todd is the jumping off point for the Dark Knight Returns (being the event that causes Bruce to hang up the cape and cowl). But of course DKR is many times greater!

    Great review and great to hear your viewpoint 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • transhaan says:

      Thanks man. Yeh, I sadly wasn’t impressed by the storyarc. I do agree that it’s an important and influential one though. The main event of the trade is one of the most dramatic and unprecedented. It was still a fun read in general, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who’s a fan of Batman or who’s simply curious. Thanks again for stopping by and checking out the review! 😀

      – Lashaan

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Bookstooge says:

    Well, after your review of Under the Red Hood and our comments, I came to check this out. I think I might give this a go, especially if the new Robin you mention is Tim Drake. I’ve got 2 graphic novels of his Robin and really like them, so it sounds like a good fit.
    I’ll have to see if the library carries this, definitely NOT going to spend money on it until I read it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      Thanks for checking it out, you didn’t have to hahah I appreciate it. Yep. Tim Drake does get introduced in this volume, but I definitely don’t recommend spending money on this volume. It has some pretty weak parts here and there. I do however recommend reading it (especially a library copy, that’s a perfect solution) before Under the Red Hood though! Do share your thoughts with me or a review whenever you end up reading it though. I only know a couple other people who have read it, so your thoughts on it would be super interesting! 😃

      Liked by 1 person

      • Bookstooge says:

        My guess is I’ll do a series of Robin oriented weekends in January. Start with death in the family, then the 2 Drake/Robin gn’s then Under the Red Hood. Probably do something on Sunday.

        Now, the really important part is coming up with a clever series title to amuse everyone *wink*

        Liked by 1 person

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