Recently, a local used bookstore came upon a big shipment of Batman trades. With all the “Jason Todd is back” hysteria going on, I thought picking up “A Death in the Family,” “A Lonely Place in Dying” and “Hush” volumes 1 & 2 would serve as a good Robin retrospective.
I remember reading these “A Death in the Family” issues back in the ’80s when I visited my cousins, but this was my first exposure to that story in however many years it has been since it came out.
Reading ADITF all these years later, it’s a shame that a storyline as important as that is so embarrassingly rooted in ’80s middle-east paranoia. I had no recollection of the driving theme of middle east terrorists, arms-for-hostages, and the Ayatollah. As far as I could remember, Jason Todd died in a warehouse explosion in Gotham City, not Ethiopia.
It’s not that the setting of the story is necessarily bad, it just really cries out “I AM A PRODUCT OF THE REAGAN ERA!” It’s nice when stories are a little more timeless.
It’s not all bad. One thing ADITF does well is to cleanly present the tension between Jason Todd and Batman before the big clang-and-bang. I did also enjoy the “confession,” if you will, from the DC editors on how they decided to put the decision in the readers’ hands.
But when it comes to looking back on important stories of the ’80s, there are the classics, like “Year One,” that should be kept on the shelf to be read, loaned out, and re-read. Then there are those others, best left in their respective longbox, summarized in a sentence or two when needed.
In “A Death in the Family,” the Joker kills Robin.