Episode 46 – Starlin’s Batman Part 8: A Death in the Family Part 1

Welcome to the forty-sixth episode of The Overlooked Dark Knight. The is a non-index index show where the hosts, Andrew Leyland and Michael Bailey, look at Batman comics that rarely, if ever, get talked about.  Back in episode 39 they started a series covering Jim Starlin’s run of Batman and they are going to continue with that until they get through all of his issues, up to and including Batman: The Cult.

It’s here.

What is quite possibly the most controversial Batman story ever.

Andy and Mike have gotten to…A Death in the Family.

Not the second Incredible Hulk pilot where David comes across a supposedly crippled heiress that is being slowly poisoned by her step-mother, forcing David to become the Hulk on several occasions and he even fights a bear (or, more accurately, a guy in a bear suit) at one point. No.  The guys are covering the story that made headlines because DC decided to use the then new technology of 900 numbers for something other than a phone sex line.

In this first part of the coverage, Andy and Mike talk about Batman #426 and #427, which are the first two parts of A Death in the Family, but when you consider that the issues are double sized it is almost like they are the first four parts of the story.  Jason is out of control and Bruce benches him before getting involved in yet another Joker escapes Arkham case  Along the way, Jason finds out that the woman that he thought was his mother was not, in fact, his mother, so he goes on a quest of his own.  “Shockingly” those two quests collide and Jason eventually finds his mother, but not before the Joker does and some really bad things happen.  Jason and his mother are locked in a room with a bomb and at the end of issue 427 it explodes.  Did Jason survive?

Well, no.  He didn’t.  Sorry for the spoiler.

Mike and Andy really dive into the story, both from a historic stand point and a critical one with Andy being very honest about his feelings about it and Mike admitting that nostalgia googles were worn while he re-read it.  It’s a stark look at what the story represents and how it’s told.

Below are the covers and select pages from the comics discussed during this episode.

Promos played during this episode include…

Andy and Mike want your feedback on this episode so they can read it on an upcoming show!  You even have options in how you leave your feedback.  The most direct way is to leave a comment right here on the site.  You can also send all questions, concerns, fears and trepidations to [email protected].  Then there’ the Facebook page, where you can also leave a Batman related question for Andy and Mike to answer at the beginning of the show.  If you talk about this show on the social medias please include a #overlookeddk so the guys know where to find it.

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Next Time: The penultimate episode in the Starlin’s Batman series and the conclusion of A Death in the Family.


  1. Of course I knew this day would come, and I’ve been dreading it since you started this run. I must say, though, that you gentlemen gave a reasonable and fair coverage and review of these first two (four?) parts of the story. I was in my early 30s when these issues came out, and I well remember my outrage over the 900 number, “Call in to vote on whether Robin lives or dies” campaign. When Jason Todd was made the new Robin, I was surprised, but it seemed natural for Dick Grayson to want to move on and get way from the pixie booties (although he should have had second thoughts about that disco collar on Nightwing’s costume), so a new, younger sidekick for Batman made sense. In the beginning, Jason seemed to be an interesting character, young, still inexperienced, but basically a good kid. Then, stories took him in a more annoying direction I thought. Then the call-in promo, in my mind, sealed his fate. It seemed to me that DC (either writers, editors, or higher ups) had decided to make him annoying to justify killing him off, and the voting campaign seemed a smoke screen to deflect blame for the move onto the readers (on non-readers) who voted. If they were going to kill off the character, I thought they should have the integrity to say, “We, as creators, decided that this was where we wanted to go.” I still kept reading, in the vain hope that there would be a twist I didn’t expect and Jason would live, somehow. Sadly, that beating at the hands of Joker with a crowbar angered me even more. “They just showed, fairly graphically, the brutal beating of a kid, followed by an explosion.” I knew in my heart that he was dead, if not at that moment, then very shortly, and I have never forgotten that feeling.
    This episode of The Overlooked Dark Knight doesn’t change that feeling, but I think you two have done these issues some justice, and I look forward to hearing you do the same for the rest of the story. Thank you.

  2. Top show as ever. I understand Michael’s views but I’m more of an Andy, having been unable to see past the cynicism of the storyline, the stupidity of the characters and yes, all those bally coincidences. Still, it’s fun to look back at, and your insights and opinions were fascinating and fun.

    Random comments: Oh Michael, the Bluejay costume was wonderful, and I quite like Disco Dick!

    Terrific points on Jason’s long-winded way to learn the name of his birth mother. And could he not have discounted Lady Shiva (I love that Jim Aparo haircut) due to the fact that her skin tone is nothing like his?

    Jason in that audio version sounds about 40, I tried to find out who the actor was, but not dice.

    I find Bob Geldof terribly sanctimonious and Do They Know It’s Christmas makes little sense, but it’s a catchy singalong and did so much good that I can forgive it, and him.

    Just think, in another life Lady Shiva was Jason’s mother and he and Cassandra Caine are the Bat Twins?

    And of course Jason’s mother is evil, she smokes on panel.

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