Written by: Jim Starlin
Art by: Jim Aparo, Mike DeCarlo, Adrienne Roy
DC Comics, 142 Pages
A Death In the Family was one of the biggest Batman stories to happen around the time that I was getting into comics as a serious reader and not just a casual one, who just occasionally picked up stuff other than G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero.
When I was in elementary school, this is a story that all the kids talked about and I remember trading my hardcover copy of Arkham Asylum for this and The Killing Joke. I felt like I definitely won in that trade and it’s mainly because of this story.
I was the rare Jason Todd fan. Sure, nowadays other people like him because of how he came back as the Red Hood and carved out his own legacy. Before that, however, people pretty much hated Jason. I think I mainly liked him because he was Robin when I started paying attention and I saw through him being a prickish pain in the ass and knew that there was something deeper inside him that was needing to come out. The problems Jason presented Bruce/Batman with were different than Dick Grayson’s, the original Robin. He simply made things more interesting, as you knew his attitude and temperament would somehow come to a head in a big way.
While I love this story and I really liked how it altered the Batman series going forward, I always thought that Jason died too early and that they missed out on exploring him more. I guess that’s why I really gravitated towards his stories when he finally did return, nearly two decades later.
In regards to this story, it’s exceptionally well written and presented with great care and a respect for the character, even though the fans called a hotline and actually voted for Jason Todd to die.
This is still one of the best, all-time classic Batman stories ever written. It also has great art by Jim Aparo.
I liked that this takes things out of Gotham City and that the story is kicked off by Jason Todd discovering that his biological mother is out there, somewhere. He goes in search of her and while that’s happening, The Joker is off selling a missile to a Middle Eastern tyrant, which brings his story and Jason’s crashing together in a tragic and emotional way.
Jason does find his mother but what he finds with that costs him his life and turns Batman into someone that wants vengeance against The Joker for what he did to the child that Batman was supposed to raise and protect.
This is a pretty heartbreaking story that has stood the test of time and is still emotional, even if you are aware of what actually happens to Jason Todd after his death.
If you are a fan of the Caped Crusader and haven’t read this, you probably should.
Pairs well with: other Batman comics of the late ’80s/early ’90s, as well as the early Red Hood stories from the ’00s.