Batman: A Death in the Family

batman a death in the family cover trade paperback tpb
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Art: 8/10

Great shock value

So-so stories surrounding the death of Robin and the appearance of the new Robin

Comic Info

Comic Name:  Batman (Volume 1)/New Titans

Publisher:  DC Comics

Writer:  Jim Starlin/Marv Wolfman/George Perez

Artist:  Jim Aparo/Tom Grummett

# of Issues:  9

Release Date:   2011

batman #428 cover a death in the family robin killed

Batman (1) #428

Reprints Batman (1) #426-429, 440-442, and New Titans #60-61 (December 1988-December 1989).  Jason Todd has learned that the woman he believed was his mother was really his adopted mother.  Now, Jason’s out to find his real mother with or without Batman’s help.  As Batman tracks the Joker in a worldwide hunt, Robin and Batman’s paths cross, and Batman and Robin learn that they can help each other.  When tragedy strikes and Jason is killed, Batman finds himself alone…with the threat of Two-Face looming can a new Robin rise to fill Jason’s shoes?

Written by Jim Starlin, Marv Wolfman, and George Perez, Batman:  Death in the Family was a massive hit both as a comic and early graphic novel.  The early collections only collected issues #426-429, but current collections include the “A Lonely Place of Dying” story that ran in Batman (1) #440-442 and crossed in to New Titans #60 and 61.  Collections also often include a glimpse of what would have happened if Jason had survived the bomb blast.

What makes Batman:  Death in the Family so interesting is that the readers really killed Jason using Joker as an instrument.  The Joker had been highly violent in the late ’80s and recently just crippled Barbara Gordon (aka Batgirl) in Batman:  The Killing Joke by Alan Moore.  This combined with the fact that Jason Todd, Dick Grayson’s Robin replacement, was losing popularity…he was whiny, obnoxious, and always causing more problems for Batman than help.  DC gave readers the chance to call a 900 number (at fifty cents a call) in to kill or save Jason…and apparently, they wanted him dead with the kill squeaking past the saves. Jason was beaten with a crowbar and blown-up…so I guess you can say he paid for being unpopular.

batman #442 cover lonely place of dying robin

Batman (1) #442

The character of Robin however remained popular, and Batman without a Robin just seemed wrong.  They needed a reason for Batman to get another Robin and risk getting a new kid killed so they created the very likeable Tim Drake (named after Tim Burton who was directing the Batman movie).  Tim was actually introduced in Batman (1) #436 (August 1989) in the “Year Three” storyline that showed the deaths of Dick Grayson’s parents.  In “A Lonely Place of Dying” Marv Wolfman was given the task of reintroducing Robin which was successful and even led to Robin getting his own solo series.

The only problem with both “A Death in the Family” and “A Lonely Place of Dying” is that the issues surrounding the significant events seem a bit dull.  The lead-up to Jason’s death with the plane hopping adventure seemed trite, but Joker’s joining of the U.N. was interesting (if not a bit ridiculous).  “A Lonely Place of Dying” has the mentally shattered Batman tracking Two-Face…for way too long.  This combines with Teen Titan issues and both come off as a bit confusing since Wolfman jumped around in the plot a bit.

Batman:  A Death in the Family is a must for any Batman fan and a pretty good read for those who aren’t.  The series had lasting effects on Batman and the DC Universe and only in recent years has Jason Todd returned to life as the Red Hood (where I still find him obnoxious).  If you ever wanted to see a superhero go out with a bang, check out Batman:  A Death in the Family.


Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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