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on 14 November 2001
This collection incorporates one of the most shocking and revolutionary events in comics history - the choice by the readers to kill off one of the most well-known characters in the DC world.
The storyline takes you along the second Robin's (Jason Todd) quest to find his real mother after Batman grounds him for being too reckless. His quest inevitably crosses the path of Batman's search for the Joker, who has managed to get his hands on a nuclear weapon, and the two aid each other in their tasks... with disasterous results for the young Jason, and a damaging impact on the Batman and his beliefs.
This is a fine addition to a Batman fan's collection, featuring Superman in a supporting role - being devil's advocate to the Government and providing Batman a source to pour out his grief - and setting the tone for the darker style of Batman comics during the 90s.
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SPOILERS

Joker busts out of Arkham Asylum (the place is useless, really) and heads to the Middle East to sell a cruise missile he's had in storage, and Batman follows to stop him. Meanwhile Jason Todd aka Robin is working through some emotional issues and finds out that the woman he thought was his mother wasn't his biological mother so he sets off to track down his real mum.

I know this book is always on peoples' lists of "must-read" Batman stories but, besides Jason's death, there really isn't anything particularly good about this story. There are too many coincidences - Jason's search for his mother takes him to Israel, Lebanon, and Ethiopia, to find each of the three women who could potentially be his mum; these places also happen to be where the Joker goes to sell his missile/make money, and of course Batman and Robin cross paths in each instance!

Then there's the Joker. First off I hate how he's drawn in the `80s, his face is ridiculously long like an Easter Island sculpture. Second, I hate how his entire motivation in this book is money. I realise the Joker of the 21st century is far cooler, just think of that scene in "The Dark Knight" when Heath Ledger's Joker burns an enormous pile of money, but did Jim Starlin have to make his Joker so pathetically hung up on cash? In one scene when Joker's money is destroyed he slinks away in the shadows whining "My lovely money... whatever will I do now...?" - so pathetic.

And then there are the strange nuances with Batman and Robin. In the middle of a desert Batman and Robin take down Arab guards and don their gear, but they manage to pick the guards that suit their superhero outfits so Batman gets a blue robes and Robin red robes. Then Batman says something about covering a large amount of terrain using something that will make them "invisible" - hang-gliders! He reasons that anyone looking at them will think they're birds. Yeah, birds have jets don't they? Robin's outfit too is really stupid. Those bare legs and little green scaly shorts look so daft it's a wonder they got away with it for so long.

When Jason dies, Batman gives a summary of his life and gives a lame reason for wanting to have a child as a sidekick fighting criminals at night - "I guess I was just lonely". But he vows to "never again" allow a minor to help him fight villains as evil as Joker and Two-Face. Right, except right after this he meets Tim Drake and trains him to become the new Robin. Sigh... I don't know why Starlin tried to reason Robin into existence, just accept that it's weird but it is what it is. He's a colourful moving target to draw gunfire away from the guy dressed in black (or blue in this book). Move on.

I'll give credit to Starlin for making the death scene very stark and brutal, though the events afterwards that keep Batman from attacking Joker completely negate any of the impact because you're wondering how on earth such nonsense made it into print. The Joker becomes ambassador for Iran, that bugbear of Cold War 1980s America. Yes, ambassador. What absolute rubbish.

This is such a bad `80s comic book full of poor dialogue and plotting and that cheesy comic book style of drawing that instantly dates it, that it's amazing it's held in the high regard it is. It's reputation must be held up by aging fanboys who look back on this era with nostalgia and ignore the fact that the Batman books of this time (barring a few exceptions) were mostly terrible and can't hope to stand up to the generally high quality of the Batman books being written today. I suppose every Batman fan must read this if only for the mythology aspect of it, but it's not even the end of Jason Todd. He comes back in Judd Winick's "Under the Hood", so that the book's sombre and dark cover underlines the silliness of superhero comics in general - characters come back all the time, there are never any real endings.

Anybody looking for a fun Batman read will not find it here, nor is it a deserved classic; "A Death in the Family" is just a book that happens to have an event in it that some consider to be important but really isn't. Definitely missable, this is ultimately a disappointing read.
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on 7 December 2011
This contains;

-Batman A Death in The Family
Restored and recoloured artwork

also though it contains the full story Batman A Lonley Place Of Dying, with introduces Tim Drake as the third Robin. This story is out of print and is very expensive to get by it's self, it's better than Death in the Family too.

5/5 Really good by DC, 2 Classics for price of one!!!!
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on 29 May 2015
Say goodnight Gracie!! A great story and one of my favourite reads. Now if im completely honest its only the end of the book that i actually sit back and really appreciate. The first few chapters are quite plain and at some points cheesy with no classic potential atall, But you stick with it and the POW! right in the kisser the tone of the book changes suddenly and quite scarily as the comic readers of the 80s make a decision that changes Batmans life forever. After the climactic event of Robin vs Joker the aftermath is immediatly felt as the atmosphere and tone changes from happy clappy beat em ups in Lebanon to some seriously thought provoking stuff. Batmans character shifts completely as depression, anger, guilt and helplessness all set in at once, he becomes quite unpredictable and as a reader your really not sure what hes going to do. The exchange between Batman and Superman is written perfectly and you can really feel the tension between the two characters.
The story itself starts off when Robin (Jason Todd) continues to act irrationally and dangerously while out with Batman, Batman orders Jason to have some time and to seek help with his unstable emotions. This then leads to Jason hunting down his real mum after discovering that shes still alive. The candidates that could be Jasons mum are all abroad and so Jason grabs Bruces money and leaves to find her without telling him. Batman meanwhile discovers that Joker has escaped Arkham Asylum again and immediately sets out to hunt him down. It then gets abit cheesy as Joker also leaves the country with Batman close behind and all the characters coincidently meet each other in the same country in the same place. The story then develops as Batman decides to help Jason find his real mum but the Joker again coincidently gets there first, from this point the stories tone changes completely... and I don't want to spoilt it (although im sure most readers probably already know the storyline)
Character wise there's nothing overly special going until over half way through, Jason continues to be abit of a douchebag, ignoring orders, being selfish and trying to partake in under age drinking on an air plane. Im kind of not surprised about what happens to him in this book. Just to clarify, when this comic was originally published it gave the readers the opportunity to vote whether he lived or died at the end of the story. As there's very very few graphic novels that contain Jason Todd in his stint as robin at the present time its very difficult to make the decision as a reader in this day and age whether i would have wanted him dead or not (said like a true psychopath). Joker is much like the whole novel, very weakly written at the beginning but at the end of the book he's at his strongest pushing Batman further that hes ever dared push him before and even dabbling in politics.
The art is good but nothing special, its serves its purpose for what it representing, There are a few exeptional panels such as the crowbar beating section and the aftermath in the rubble panels with Batman in mourning.
Overall its half an average book and half an amazing book, Even though its a slow start the story develops into a rightful classic and either way will have you begging for more when you've finished.
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VINE VOICEon 22 October 2007
This is one of the most famous graphic novels in the long history of Batman. The story deals with the tale of Batman's second partner - also called Robin. the first Robin was called Dick Grayson and was genuinely liked by Batman fans worldwide, but as Dick's character developed it became clear that at some point Dick would become a man in his own right. The partnership between Batman and Robin was broken, and Dick Grayson became Nightwing and led the Teen Titans.
Enter, Jason Todd. Another orphan, with a different set of circumstances to both Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson. The fans didn't like Jason in the same way that they had liked Dick Grayson, and after many letters to DC complaining about Batman's new sidekick the authors decided to make a bold decision - they would put the future of the character in the hands of the readers. As you can probably guess from the title, it was not going to be a happy ending for Jason.
The plot mainly deals with Jason trying to locate his real mother. Batman is pursuing the Joker and advises Jason to wait, but Jason runs away on his own personal mission, and Batman puts the needs of the many before the needs of his partner. Right from the off, we see Jason recklessly rushing off into the blue and ignoring the advice of his mentor...
As the plot develops the two storylines of Batman and Robin interwine, and the Joker enters the fray to spice up the action.....
Most people will know how this book ends, but it is a very interesting journey to the ending. There are some twists and turns. Some tough choices from Batman, and from Robin.
The good points of this book start with the plot. Considering the writers almost had to write two endings, the flow of the story is pretty seamless. You are sucked into the lives of the main protaganists, and although the ending is quite easy to figure out, there are plenty of times when you feel that the tragedy could have been avoided. This alone keeps you gripped. The characters get plenty of page coverage too. Batman, Robin and the Joker are all allowed to shine and develop throughout the book. There is also a 'surprise' appearance from another DC character, and this adds to the plot and gives a very nice twist at the end of the tale. The artwork is of the eighties, and therefore feels a little dated, but in no way does it detract from the story, and that is the test of time - a good plot.
It does have it's faults though, but they are fairly minor. The Joker plotline after the death of Robin is way over the top, and really unneccessary. And during this time there is no sense of Batman losing his cool, giving in to rage or going over the edge. To me, that oould have been a very interesting couple of chapters i.e the moral dilemma of what Batman should do with the Joker.
Other than that, this is one of the better Batman graphic novels, and well worth your time. I really enjoyed this, and would recommend it to everyone.
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on 20 November 2011
I first read this story when I was 12 and even then wasnt overly impressed the death of Jason Todd was a huge event for Batman and impacted on the comics for years (it seemed like every crossover and event story batman had after this contained a scene where Jasons memorial in the batcave was broken). The story itself is a little clumsy, Jason finds out his real mother may still be alive but it just so happens her name is smudged and there are three options so off he goes alone to find her, at the same time Batman is hunting the Joker who has escaped again. Then Bruce and Jason just so happen to bump into each other as they travel the globe on their seperate missions and then it just so happens that Jasons real mum is working with the Joker. At 12 these unbelievable coincidences didnt bother me so much, now they stand out like a sort thumb.
The scenes where Jason is beaten with a crowbar by the Joker are still pretty horrific and the image of Batman holding his lifeless body is always haunting however I have always found Jim Aparos art to be stiff and lifeless there are a few times where he nails certain images but on the whole nothing in this graphic novel changed my view. Its a shame that such an iconic story doesnt stand up to the tests of time maybe DC will see fit to reboot the story, the recent animated movie 'Under the Hood' had a much better set up for Jasons death and his Ressurection.
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on 12 May 2004
Jason Todd (the second Robin, after Dick Grayson) was never popular. In this collected edition he finally meets his death at the hands of the Joker. Readers were given the choice at the end of Issue 3 to vote on whether a badly beaten Jason Todd lived or died. I'm sure you can guess which way the vote went.
I didn't read much Batman when Jason Todd was alive but this tale is certainly a good read and will pretty much tell you everything you need to know about him. Anyone with an interest in the Batman Mythos should read this book as it is an important part of Batman's history. If anyone has read the recent 'Hush' storyline then you will see that Batman is still feeling the death of one of his partners now.
A further recommendation for anyone interested in other Morbid Batman stories is Alan Moore's 'The Killing Joke'.
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on 29 September 2012
It get's a little eighties cartton style here and there but let's look at the better parts, it adds dimension to some if not all of the characters involved, we see what happened to the second robin and also included is the perhaps better story of Two-Face and Batman fighting whilst the third robin is introduced, a must have. The book itself is well designed with decent pages.
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on 16 July 2003
Dick Grayson was the original Robin, a sidekick to Batman with a cheerful costume and lots of witty banter to keep the Dark Knight from being overwhelmed by his depressing life. Grayson left for leadership of the Titans, and was replaced by Jason Todd. The writers originally intended for Jason to be fairly similar to Grayson, a basic character clone. But he started turning different by accident of the writing style, and readers started writing in, saying they hated him. SO the publishers gave readers a choice to write in- choose if Robin dies or not after an encounter with the Joker. And the readers phoned in and chose...
The shock value is a little diminished after 15 years but it's still an engrossing story of Jason's search for his real mother that ends rather badly. It is spoilt by ridiculous caricatures of Middle east people, with Iran choosing the Joker as its UN ambassador going a tad too far beyond reality, even for a comic book that was quite silly. The death of Jason resonates for a long time in the comics, with Batman being very cautious to ever risk anyone else's life in his war on crime.
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on 17 November 2009
Apart from the slightly kitsch feel to this graphic novel, I enjoyed it immensely. It was chilling, destroying and brilliant. Bring on more Batman!
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