Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's "Death of the Family" has gone a long way toward establishing Snyder as a believer in the idea that the very existence of Batman creates and inspires some of his greatest (and most insane) enemies. It's not a new idea, but it's one Snyder explores in a more impactful way then I've seen from other writers. It's honestly hard not to get caught up in it, which is a mark of fantastic storytelling.
To be honest, The Joker isn't my favorite of Batman's villains. He's great, but in the hands of even the best writers, he often becomes tiresome. He loves to hear himself talk and added to his particular brand of insanity, it can all become a lot of cryptic nonsense rather quickly. Additionally, in superhero comics, good ideas frequently get repeated with tiny variations, and so The Joker wears out his welcome with record speed. It's unfortunately true in Snyder's story thus far -- The Joker goes on and on and on and I find myself aching for Bats to just finish him so we can move on to the next story or villain. However, Snyder is a particularly smart writer and clever plotter, and so just when I'm beginning to tire of The Joker, Snyder delivers a brutal cliff-hanger of an ending that will leave readers aching for more. As a result I find myself not the least bit tired of The Joker but instead on the edge of my seat to see where Snyder will go next.
Well played, Snyder, well played.
On the visual side, Capullo continues to impress me with his Batman, even beyond the strong square jawed hero-y-ness that I love, Capullo has dug deep into Batman's world and found both the beauty and the horror. (Okay, mostly the horror, but that's fitting.) Everything is fantastically well-considered, from the Joker's horrifying tied on face and the roles Joker has others characters fulfilling, to the shock of a horse on fire and the simplicity of Batman's shadow in a cavernous room. It's really gorgeous work. Capullo has to capture more iconic characters in this single issue than most artists have to tackle in an entire arc, yet he handles it all with seeming effortlessness.
While "Death of the Family" hasn't been my favorite Batman arc of all time, it's good solid comics, and this issue has readers poised for it to get even better before it finishes. It's only the best of creative teams that can take a character I've already tired of and re-invent them, all while building a pivotal story. I can't wait for what's next.