A Life In The Family
After the huge shake up that A Death In The Family did to The Batman Universe I am very eager to dive into it’s direct sequel and see how the effects of Jason Todd’s death have played out.
I’ve had this book for a number of years and have made several attempts at reading it. However, I’ve never actually gotten all the way through it.
Mainly because this mixes with a teen titans story to me and I just…didn’t care. In the past I would’ve just sold it BUT it’s out of print so I knew holding onto it may be valuable. Turns out it was, and now I gotta get through this (crap I sound like Daniel Bedingfield) even if it’s just mainly for my two loyal fans who read these reviews. SHOUTOUTS THEM.
So let’s dive into ‘Batman: A Lonely Place Of Dying.’
A lonely place of crying
The book opens as you’d expect, displaying a traumatised and disparate Batman. He blindly goes into fights without planning, acting almost as if he has a death wish, the guilt of Jason Todd weighing on his shoulders. It’s touching to see Alfred admit how deeply he cares for Bruce whilst also stating that he won’t play nurse for the rest of his life. Batman is in the Abyss and what’s worse is that Two Face is planning to put him there permanently.
Two Face FM
I love Harvey Dent’s introduction in this book. He is listening to the radio and the voice reading the news out begins to taunt him. Throughout the plot the two have a back and forth via the wireless. It’s brilliant that his dual personality can narrate the goals of the one whilst showing a protest between the dark and light. It reminded me of the tet a tets that Gollum has in the Lord Of The Rings films and is a creative and entertaining look at the character’s dichotomy. From the offset Two Face makes this book better on every panel that he graces and I wish that the central arc of the story was focused solely on his feud with Batman.
However, that doesn’t mean that this book is bad.
Stalking The Dark Knight
One of the best elements of the book is its mystery that surrounds the Bruce and Dick Grayson stalker. From the off we view this shadowy figure taking pictures of Batman murmuring how different Bruce is acting. It adds an element of threat when he tracks down Dick Grayson and this story thread makes the book a real page turner. You want to learn the mystery man’s identity more for the fact that he knows our hero’s.
He is revealed to be Tim Drake and his transition into Robin throughout the book really feels earned. Unlike Jason he wasn’t a thief and his parents didn’t die causing Bruce to be his guardian. Drake really feels like he worked for the position of Robin, even if at first he wasn’t willing to accept the role.
End of spoilers
The book ascends into a personal story early on when it follows Dick Grayson on his journey home, back to Haley’s circus. There is a slight murder mystery tangent here that doesn’t add much of the plot and feels like filler in order for us to get caught up on Dick’s story. The stalker’s true identity is revealed here and he pleads with Dick to restore the relationship with Bruce and bring him back from the brink. Honestly, it’s good to see the little look at Dick’s life without Bruce but this section wasn’t really needed in the collection. It’s a teen titans issue that could’ve perhaps been summed up in two pages or less in the main arc. I think on my initial read I struggled to get invested into the story after this and here I faced the same problem. I got through it though.
Wow I am such a hero.
Two face and the Twin Towers
The book begins to pick up again upon shifting focus back to the Two Face and Batman story. It’s brilliant how they both inner monologue trying to guess what the other is thinking, trying to second guess each other’s insanity. Two face even considers blowing up the Twin Towers (I didn’t realise Alkida loved comics till now….I’m trying to do another pun but the best one I can come up with is ‘Bin-man and Laden’ so I’ll leave it). The book escalates as the two psychologically almost intertwine to get the other and this main plot thread is neatly set over Tim Drake arriving at Wayne Manor and giving his back story. The book really hooked me at this point and his transition into Robin feels triumphant and how perhaps the Jason story should’ve been told as to not annoy fans at the time.
I love how Dick pretty much forces the role on him stating that Batman put him through hell and the first thing he learnt was to become a man, not stay a kid. It’s a really in depth look at child psychology and how abuse or even a strenuous lifestyle from the younger years can leave adults feeling bitter and resentment even if it wasn’t the guardians original motive.
We see the struggles still continue as when Nightwing and Batman work together, the caped crusader is overly authoritive. Stating that he’s not in the teen titans any longer, if he wants to work with him he does it the Batman way.
To be honest, the two are really as stubborn as each other and it’s only the reader who can really notice the kinship that the duo possess. The two end up in a Two Face trap and Drake must step up to the plate and rescue them.
The climax ends as you’d expect with Drake saving the two and helping to stop Two Face. Bruce reluctantly accepts the new Robin and we get the true message that there is no Batman without Robin, he too is a symbol. It’s a nice end that reveals that the Joker has been the voice taunting Two Face the entire time. Sure it wasn’t needed but it ends the book with a bit of black comedy and that’s never a bad thing in the dark knights lore.
Overall this book has a great heart even if it suffers from a few lacklustre issues that bog the pacing down slightly. It’s still probably the best Robin origin story, even if it fails to measure up to the Robin death story that we’ve just had. You’re probably best waiting till this book gets a reprint or comes out digitally but fans will still have a fun time.
Leave a comment whether you agree with my ranking or not.