“A year from now will you remember me?” asks the first panel. I can’t imagine it will be hard to forget The War of Jokes and Riddles. The current series is not without harsh critics, yet many esteem it genius. No matter how you view Tom King’s Batman, this issue might surprise you.
We are winding down The War of Jokes and Riddles with a hopeless scenario for the Clown Prince. The Bat-Riddles alliance has him cornered with no escape. But with Gotham stuck in between Riddler’s arrogance and Joker’s madness, can there truly be a winner? And furthermore, what was Batman’s great sin that will influence Catwoman’s decision?
To appreciate the current Batman run, you must understand that Tom King’s writing style is not typical, nor is it straightforward. Some questions will not receive an immediate answer and readers may be confused by the non-linear storytelling more than once. Anytime an author makes such an attempt. he runs the risk of alienating the casual reader or even insisting upon himself. Even a few issues of Batman have felt like King holding back, in an attempt to avoid those mistakes. Not this issue. The story is full of great moments to reward your patience. And oh, did I mention it is fun? We finally are treated to the epic final confrontation of the Joker against the Riddler’s army with the Bat caught in the middle. Catwoman’s mysterious involvement is ultimately revealed, and even our old friend Kite Man finally gets the chance to put a smile on the reader’s face.
Yes, we live in a world where Kite Man is the most interesting part of the monthly Batman book and it is glorious. It speaks a lot to King’s script when he can bring the emotional distress and depth of an indie comic to one of Gotham’s “joke” rogues. The dark comedy aspect sets this series apart from the rest. Not since Morrison have we seen a side cast this interesting. Many will come for Batman and stay for the side characters.
A story this large demands artwork that conveys the scope properly. Mikel Janin provides a cinematic, life-like feel unlike anything else on the shelves. The colors make the art vibrant and realistic while grounding this in a comic book world. Most panels are absolutely perfect, others you might notice a fairly awkward pose. In spite of this, the artwork is overall fantastic. For a story with so much necessary dialogue, the nine-panel gird works wonders. In a single page, you find a conversation that another creative team would need three pages to tell.
I have to recommend this issue as another solid chapter in the Batman Rebirth series. The War of Jokes and Riddles is a story we will be discussing years from now, and fun issues like this will make the re-read worth it. There are enough epic moments to make any Batman fan pump their fist in the air and yell Kite Man’s catchphrase!
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