Before I begin this look at the latest three installments of the "Death of the Family," I should warn you that there are some pretty substantial spoilers in this post. So look away if you must, comic book fan!
The sixteenth issues of "Batman," "Batman & Robin," and "Batgirl" all end with the same gruesome scene: Joker holding a fancy dinner tray with some horrible bloody thing hidden under the lid. Yes, "Death of the Family" is going all "Se7en" on us, playing a game of "what's in the box? WHAT'S IN THE BOX??!!!"
So let's play this game, shall we?
What could be possibly so horrible under that silver lid that even the Penguin gasped in disgust?
1. Alfred's Head
This seems like too easy an answer, but it is the most obvious. Alfred was abducted at the beginning of "DotF" and apparently tortured by Joker. We have not seen him since. In some ways, Alfred is the family in the Bat-Family -- the "glue" the held all the various Bat-Friends together. So to kill Al would be a terrible blow for everyone.
Then again -- that seems way too obvious a resolution.
2. Tim Drake's Head
Or other somesuch body parts. Not trying to get the old-school (by which I mean, the Nineties) Bat-Fans into a tizzy, but when we line up all the Robins and pseudo-Robins of the current "New 52" Universe, Red Robin comes up as the most redundant. Nightwing's Dick Grayson, and he's an icon and not going anywhere. Jason Todd's the edgy asshole/anti-hero. Damien's the rotten little Seed of Batman. But Red Robin?
I quote Scott Lobdell's interview with us last month on the subject of Tim Drake:
"I think what happens to Tim... is so shocking that even I am shocked with what I got away with..."
Remember: Tim Drake was introduced in an arc many moons ago called "Death In The Family." So things would be going full-circle.
However, as we see on the cover for April's solicitations, Red Robin is indeed on the cover with his head firmly on. But maybe his tongue was ripped out? Maybe he was forced to eat somebody else's face? I know these are rather unplesant and grody things to consider...but this is "Death of the Family" we're talking about (and many moons ago there was an issue of "Catwoman" where somebody was forced to eat somebody else's face off. Just in csae you need precedent).
3. Jason Todd's Face
I base this on a line from the April solicitation copy for "Red Hood & The Outlaws":
"What horrors lie beneath the mask of the Red Hood?"
So's those are my three guesses. Of course, there is a fourth guess...that what the Joker is holding is nothing of importance at all...and the joke's on us! Ha Ha!
We'll find out the answers next month!