Shadowhawk takes a look at the March covers for the Bat-family titles in a post-Death of the Family setting. Contains spoilers for the Death of the Family crossover and from Batman, Incorporated #8.
“The emotional fallout from Batman, Incorporated #8 won’t hit home until you look at these covers.” ~Shadowhawk
Death in a superhero comic is a really funny thing. Whenever someone dies, especially someone of note, a horde of comics come together to “celebrate” the event with an outpouring of grief. And then months, even years, down the line, said superhero always comes back. Many of the most notable names on American comics have suffered this symptom: Batman, Spider-Man, Superman, Jason Todd/Robin, and others. With DC’s latest revamp of its entire line, opportunities are ripe for more deaths on the horizon for the wide range of characters in the DC universe.
One of the latest major crossovers in the DC comics line-up, Death of the Family brought Joker front and center to the comics world, in an appearance across several titles that is as chilling, terrifying, and mind-frakking crazy as Heath Ledger’s performance in The Dark Knight, if not more so. Whether it is Gail Simone’s Batgirl, Scott Snyder’s Batman, or Kyle Higgins’ Nightwing (to name a few), the Joker has been busy on his most elaborate caper yet. Many people, me included, thought that the crossover would end up with the death of one of the characters involved. Snyder’s own scripts very much kept that tension alive right at the end, kept the reader guessing what was going to happen. The Joker written by all the current writers of the Bat-family titles is a terribly twisted villain with a really horrible idea of humour. A shocking, violent death at the hands of the Joker was just around the corner it seemed.
But, in a highly unexpected twist, it’s not the Joker who ends up killing one of the people close to Batman, but someone else. It is in the pages of Grant Morrison’s Batman, Incorporated #8 that Damian Wayne is laid low. The title is not part of the Death of the Family crossover so Damian’s death, coming at the heels of the various #17 issues of the Bat-family titles in which the characters all try and come to grips with what has recently happened, is even more shocking.
I am not following the title either, so I don’t know what actually happens. I also think that Damian is, or rather was, a class-A jerk from what little I’ve seen of him in the first volume of Batman and Robin, and in a couple issues of World’s Finest. So I didn’t much care for Damian’s apparent death. All I thought of when reading the news was “meh, who cares?”. As it so happens, I do care now, after having seen the exclusive cover reveals for March’s issues for the various Bat-family titles, over at Buzzfeed.
Almost all these covers reflect on the (unread on my part) events of Batman, Incorporated #8. There is a wave of sadness in them that I’ve rarely seen in comics. Without further ado, here are the covers. I don’t know if these will be the primary covers or if they are variants. The covers on DC’s own site for all these titles are rather low-key in general.
Batman #18 by Scott Snyder. Cover by Greg Capullo. One of the best covers, simple and effective in its emotional delivery.
Batman #18 by Scott Snyder. Variant cover by Andy Kubert. Another emotional cover that recalls the fallout of Jason Todd’s death in “A Death In The Family”.
Batgirl #18 by Ray Fawkes. Cover by Michael Janin. Another great cover, despite the fact that there hasn’t been much on-screen interaction between Barbara and Damian in the New 52 universe.
Batman, Incoporated #9 by Grant Morrison. Cover by Chris Burnham. Dark, moody. This could almost be a generic “dark” Batman cover, but is aptly contextualised.
Batman and Robin #18 by Peter J. Tomasi. Cover by Patrick Gleason. This one provides a very strong counterpoint to the alternate, more upbeat cover featuring both the father and the son.
Nightwing #18 by Kyle Higgins. Cover by Eddy Barrows. This one definitely trumps the Capullo cover and also rams home the emotional impact of Damian’s death.
Catwoman #18 by Ann Nocenti. Cover by Tony Daniel. The oddest cover here since there appears to be no connection to Damian’s death.
Detective Comics #18 by John Layman. Cover by Jason Fabok. One of the most emotional covers in the line-up, casting Batman as the tired hero who is struggling to come to terms with what has just happened.
Red Hood and The Outlaws #18 by Scott Lobdell. Cover by Mico Suayan. Not sure what to make of this one, really.
Teen Titans #18 by Scott Lobdell. Cover by Eddy Barrows. This one makes sense in the context of the previous issue, but is still rather… tasteless. A lot will depend on the script within I think.
World’s Finest #10 by Paul Levitz. Cover by Kevin Maguire. Another emotional cover as Helena Wayne, from Earth 2, reflects on the death of the brother she barely knew. And is that Batman in the shadows, or is it just Helena herself?
So, what do you think of these covers?