Can we get a round of applause for the return of the Joker? It seems appropriate that the first big storyline post-reboot would involve the Joker; he is after all the greatest supervillain out there. One of the first graphic novels I ever read was 'The Killing Joke' and to me it is the perfect example of what sets the Joker apart from other villains. What is terrifying is not that he shot Barbara Gordon, but how he tortured her father with pictures of her, undressed and bleeding. While the Joker works on a smaller scale than most other villains (not attempting world domination and the like) his storylines almost always have more of an impact on the reader because he attacks at a more personal level.
Everytime we are faced with the Joker we see a slightly new adapation, a new layer of his personality being explored as yet another writer puts their stamp on him. Unlike many other characters where this would create confusion and be downright annoying, with the Joker this works because of the complexities of his character. Even in cartoons and children's comics the character still seems true and unaltered and Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger's portrayal of him were the highlights of the movies. With Scott Snyder writing 'Death in the Family' which started this month we can look forward to yet another interpretation which, from interviews with Snyder and reading the latest comics looks to be very promising. In Batman #13 we see the Joker we all know and love with Snyder's interpretation as well as a new Joker that has changed over his year away. He seems more vicious and very intent on his goal which is not to kill Batman but to better him, to harden him. The Joker seems to acknowledge that Batman is the best when he is struggling and in pain which shows us what we can expect from this story arc.
The big question from all the clues, foreshadowing and now the first comic is who is going to die? The title hails from 'Death in the Family' in which the Joker kills Jason Todd, the second Robin and this will also be the first time that Barbara Gordon will truly face off with the Joker as Batgirl after he shot and paralysed her in 'The Killing Joke'. 'Death in the Family' is one of the few times that we see Batman give over to his emotions and truly blur the line he has drawn out for himself between good and evil, since this happened shortly after 'The Killing Joke' it is safe to assume that they both played a part in his numerous out bursts and leaving the Joker so his assumed death. So will we see a death in the Batman family? And will this lead to a final breaking point for Batman? If Batman and the Joker are not only opposites (two people who lost greatly but came out of it very differently to become each other's arch nemesis's) and yet parallels then the killing of the Joker would surely mean the end of Batman. It would mean Batman crossing the line between what he defines as good and evil and I believe he could not carry on as Batman after that. But then, how much lose can Bruce Wayne or Batman take before he breaks?
It's definitely looking to be the best run to come out of the reboot so far and I'm not the only one who thinks so. Going to pick up a copy of Batgirl #13, I found out they were completely sold out and would not be getting anymore in. With the writing and art crew on the run and their interpretations of the characters so far I think we are in for one hell of a ride and I can't wait to find out what they are all capable of.