There will be spoilers.
‘Death in the Family’ Conclusion- The Punchline
Story: Scott Snyder
Art: Greg Capullo
As a reader, you know deep down that Alfred can’t die. But then again, it’s comics and I’m sure that at least one version of Peter Parker would disagree. So you worry, and worry and worry (or at least I did) until the day has finally come. The conclusion of Death of the Family is in your hands. You have all this excitement and anxiousness built up and you delicately open the first page, not even realizing that you’re holding your breath.
You slowly enter Gotham. Each panel takes you one more step into the city until you’re entirely consumed and everything around you disappears. As you begin reading each speech bubble, you simultaneously try to remember what happened in the last issue. It’s as if your eyes are adjusting to a bright light, slowly you begin to focus and remember. Once everything is clear, and a few panels in, you start to fight with yourself about your pacing. Do you take your time, read slowly and carefully? Or do you rush through, eager to find out what happens? In the end, you settle for a blend of both.
Then the moment of truth approaches. The Joker’s hand is on the dish, and your hand is already turning the page. You flip the page to see… Alfred is alive, a little crazy, but alive. You laugh to yourself when you realize you and Batman are like a married couple finishing each others sentences such as, “Alfred… Alfred, thank God.”.
A rush of emotions overcomes you. Joy. Relief… and something else you’re not completely comfortable admitting. You’re relieved… but is it just relief you’re feeling? Or is there something else hidden? Is that… disappointment? Not because Pennyworth isn’t dead (I’m not that sick), but because the rollercoaster ride is over. Death of the Family was all the best parts of a rollercoaster, the big dip, the loops and fast turns. It was a lot of fun, but you were always kind of scared at the same time. And once you see Alfred’s manic grin, you hear the mechanical clicks of the track slow down your cart. The yelling stops, the arms go down and you’re left feeling like a cocktail of happy and sad emotions. You slowly catch your breath as you turn each page and realize more and more that the big threat is over… and you don’t quite know what to do with yourself.
As you read on, you feel like the Joker is talking to you. You experience a strange epiphany when you realize you love The Joker more than you love the Bat-family. You quickly tuck that thought away because you should probably feel bad about it, but you don’t.
The story arc is over, and instead of worrying about Alfred, you now have to worry about Bruce.