A Death in the Family vs. Red Son


Jedi Master DJR
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I recently checked out Batman: A Death in the Family and Superman: Red Son. Now while I knew Jason Todd would die in B:ADITF and the basic concept of Superman being a Soviet in S:RS, I had never read these graphic novels before I checked them out. So perhaps my uninitiated thoughts on this material may be of some entertainment to you.

Now if I wanted to bore everyone, I could just point out all the things I liked about B:ADITF and why it deserves to be a classic. Not going that route, instead I will point out where this graphic novel JUMPS THE SHARK! Don't think you agree? Read on.

There is no way in hell Iran would make the Joker their ambassador to the UN. It does not make any sense for the 1980s or now, it's just silly. Pick an imaginary country or something. Iran's Supreme Leader throughout that time was a horrible leader, with policies I abhor, but he's not Dr. Doom. And the UN is not so stupid and ineffective that they would allow the Joker on the premises, let alone in the UN Chamber. It would make as much sense as Timothy McVeigh or Osama Bin Laden as the ambassador from Iran.

Secondly, was I the only one that noticed that Batman was completely robbed of choosing whether he would kill the Joker or making the decision true to him, no matter how personally hard for him, of not killing the Joker? I am not interested in watching how nonsensical diplomatic immunity or Superman can stop Batman from making that choice. It would have been a much stronger story if Batman had told the US government to stuff it and pulled his handy kryptonite shard from his utility belt so that Superman could not stop him. Then, show Batman choosing NOT to kill the Joker, after you build up that he would. That is one of the strongest moral aspects of Batman's character and should shine in the moment when he would be most likely to consider revenge.

Moving on to S:RS, I really enjoyed this story as well. I especially loved the manner in which, The Batman, springs up in this story. It felt so right and was thought out very well. I must also say the story didn't feel dated to me, a child born shortly before the fall of the Soviet Union. It struck the right note, not jingoistic for the USA compared to the USSR in practical terms, and it had Luthor pose this amazing question that changed Superman's mind. The idea of a great argument reaching Soviet Superman and changing his mind was wonderful to read. And of course the idea that Lex Luthor could change the world for great good if he wasn't so damn egotistical never gets old nor does the fact that no matter what Superman Does Not Fight Wars. I haven't watched or read Watchmen yet (I know, shocking!), but certaintly Superman: Red Son should be covered in Lit classes in my opinion, it's really wonderful.

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  • 3 weeks later...

You can't really compare an out of continuity story like Red Son to a death in the family, it's two different things. It's also Superman and Batman, it's like comparing an apple to an orange, both are enjoyable, but are entirely different.

Also, Superman is an all American boy, who would not allow murder to happen, even if it was deserved, although, he did kill people pre crisis. Also, Batman would have gone to jail if he killed ambassador Joker, and Joker would have won, as not only did Batman break his rule, he also broke the law and is now in jail, unable to do what he is meant to do and save the world.

Also, at the end of the day, the story would have been different if fans didn't vote to kill Jason, but they did.

Also, in Knightfall, Batman does beat the crap out of the Joker while screaming about Jason. Also, if Batman wanted to kill the Joker, he would have found a way, he's batman, the man could beat god if given the time to prepare.

I've never read Red Son, so I can't comment on how good, or even if it's bad. That's why I'm focusing on a death in the family.

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Also, in Knightfall, Batman does beat the crap out of the Joker while screaming about Jason. Also, if Batman wanted to kill the Joker, he would have found a way, he's batman, the man could beat god if given the time to prepare.

Please tell me that was a sarcastic statement.

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Also, in Knightfall, Batman does beat the crap out of the Joker while screaming about Jason. Also, if Batman wanted to kill the Joker, he would have found a way, he's batman, the man could beat god if given the time to prepare.

Please tell me that was a sarcastic statement.

In a way yes, but Batman prepares for nearly everything was my point.

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You can't really compare an out of continuity story like Red Son to a death in the family, it's two different things. It's also Superman and Batman, it's like comparing an apple to an orange, both are enjoyable, but are entirely different.

Also, Superman is an all American boy, who would not allow murder to happen, even if it was deserved, although, he did kill people pre crisis. Also, Batman would have gone to jail if he killed ambassador Joker, and Joker would have won, as not only did Batman break his rule, he also broke the law and is now in jail, unable to do what he is meant to do and save the world.

Also, at the end of the day, the story would have been different if fans didn't vote to kill Jason, but they did.

Also, in Knightfall, Batman does beat the crap out of the Joker while screaming about Jason. Also, if Batman wanted to kill the Joker, he would have found a way, he's batman, the man could beat god if given the time to prepare.

I've never read Red Son, so I can't comment on how good, or even if it's bad. That's why I'm focusing on a death in the family.

These just happened to be the two graphic novels I picked up at the time from the library that I have seen repeatedly considered "classic" stories. I wasn't really concerned whether either was "in" continuity or not considering Marvel and DC's ideas that a story like Batman Year One occurs at most 4 or 5 years before say Batman RIP where Tim is talking about iPods or something is nonsensical.

Anyway, I think my thread may have been a little convoluted to spark interest at first, but I suppose that makes sense. I think in general what I am trying to say is that while I consider Red Son to be a classic story for Superman, I just can't say the same about A Death in the Family. I think ADITF was a big "event" before we really had events because of the way the fans voted. But at the same time, I just find the work weak not just because of Ambassador Joker from Iran (which could be forgiven compared to other wacky plots), but because Batman is robbed of making the choice of whether to kill the Joker or not. To me, it is not enough to say Batman could have if he really wanted to. The clear intent, I think, of the last pages of ADITF was to rob Batman of that choice. Otherwise, why have Superman there to stop him? Why make the Joker a diplomat with the immunity that entails? I'm sure other works addressed this choice by Batman later, but again I think it is bad storytelling to not let Batman choose in this comic. To me, it's like using techno-babble to solve a problem in a science fiction story, it doesn't really do anything for me.

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