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BATMAN: A DEATH IN THE FAMILY. Jim Starlin, Jim Aparo & Mike DeCarlo. 1989 D C Comics Titan Book

 

This is arguably one of the most controversial comic book graphic novels ever presented about a well-known superhero-sidekick relationship. Many Batman fans were expressing disappointment about the wimpy nature of the later Robin related stories. He seemed a pale imitation of The Boy Wonder of earlier comics, and many fans preferred Batman to fight crime alone. DC Comics therefore gave the fans a choice of whether or not Robin should be killed off. The only understanding was that once he was dead, he would stay dead. Many heroes had been killed, only to return by some contrived and convenient means later on, but this time, dead would mean dead. By a narrow majority vote, the decision was for Robin to die. And what a death story it is too. There is a sense of sadistic pleasure in the build up to this, almost a parody of over-hyped Soap Opera death of a major character storylines. In what seems a routine adventure, Robin discovers clues about his real mother. (It has long been believed that he was orphaned but now it turns out that his deceased parents only fostered him). With Batmanís aid, Robin finds out that his own Mother is a minor good-natured pawn in an evil plot by Batmanís archenemy, The Joker. The nefarious villain then captures Robin, who is gleefully beaten to a pulp by the Joker and his henchmen. Robin is then battered with a crowbar for good measure. Just as he recovers from this thrashing, to finally reunite with his Mum, the bomb left by the Joker goes off and kills the pair of them. 

 

Batman, unlike the fans, is heartbroken, and he vows revenge on Robinís killer, but the Joker has immunity. He has gone into politics, and gained elected office.He is now rich and powerful enough to protect himself from attack by Gorhamís vigilante, and who does he get to protect him? No other than Superman. Only when the Joker goes off the rails does Superman help Batman to dispose of the villain, who disappears into the Sea. His body is not found, so we know that unlike Robin, the Joker will return. This is a terrific highly irreverent romp of a story. http://www.dccomics.com/

 

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