The Joker is back in town, maybe you've heard? It hasn't taken long for Ogilvy to take advantage of the chaos, taking out rival crime family members, framing it on the Joker, meanwhile, Batman is left to not only deal with the real thing, but all the crazies who worship the Joker, and begin to go too far.
Following the last encounter with the Joker, and his skinning, many pro-Gotham supporters were allowed to protest within Gotham, something Bruce thought would be a very bad idea, and now with the Joker back in town, many pop up gangs are taking it as a sign, and committing pretty large crimes. None are more dangerous than a group of clowns known by the League of Smiles, who Bruce has yet to catch or come across, but he hopes a man who goes by the name Rodney the Torch leads him to the League.
Rodney meets up with the other League members as they plan to attack a memorial service, honoring those who have died by the Joker's hand at a local youth center. With Batman dealing with other gangs within the city, the coast is clear, and the League takes their hostages. Rodney begins to have second thoughts about killing all the innocents, as he's used to just setting things on fire. Ultimately, Rodney lets his hostages go, something his fellow League members don't take too well.
Batman ultimately finds Rodney relatively unharmed, as the League members find him not worth the time to deal with. Bruce almost pities Rodney, seeing how misguided he is in his devotion to the Joker (we learn a bit about his back story, and find out that he's cut off the lower part of his face) but while he's being taken away, Rodney mentions the League of Smiles, finally giving Bruce a lead on where to potentially find them.
Elsewhere, the League of Smiles reports back to their head honcho, Merrymaker, who promises the smiles are just getting started.
Meanwhile, in the back up, Ogilvy meets with many of the random associates of the Penguin Tony Daniel created a handful of issues back, introducing himself to them, and telling them how things are going to go down with Emperor Penguin. One guy, whose name I don't think we ever get (not a big deal, trust me) is more of a traditionalist, he's all about making a statement, not sneaking around and killing people, using the Joker's name to cover their tracks. But you see...
Ogilvy don't give a fuck.
Leading to him blasting a god damn laser from an umbrella at the dude's face, killing him, and leaving a smile mark, proclaiming that the Joker did it. He asks if anyone has any further questions, and they don't.
This book just continues to be so great. Love it, love it, love it. The pacing is pitch perfect, and has a very film edited feel to it. It jumps around a lot, but feels smooth and seamless. I love the fact that Layman picked up on the Joker protestors from earlier in the series, something I thought was a clever idea, but wished it was expanded upon past a simple background detail of sorts. Ogilvy also continues to be an interesting character, whose rise to power I take great enjoyment out of. Finally, once again, Jason Fabok and Andy Clarke kill it on the art. There's a panel early in the book where Fabok seems to pay homage to Lee Bermejo, Bruce Timm and Brian Bolland, something I really liked spotting.
If you're looking for an honest to god "Death of the Family" tie in, you won't find it here. I actually like that, but I just felt like it should be noted. Also, the one panel of Batman saying "This is Batman. Cease your activities at once. Disperse, and return to your homes." ...come on Batman, nerd.
The Bottom Line:
While this isn't really a "Death of the Family" tie in, hell Joker isn't actually in it, but it works on it's own so well. Layman would have never gotten away with Bruce and Joker duking it out here, because it just wouldn't work in any sort of context. Instead, Layman manages to spin his own tale, with Death of the Family as a backdrop, that is not the least bit less compelling to read. Combined with the continued great art, I don't see how anyone couldn't enjoy this book.