The War of Jokes and Riddles
On Wednesday, DC has finally released the highly anticipated issue which kicks off the 8-part event that is The War of Jokes and Riddles. Marking the 1-year anniversary of the title’s relaunch, Batman #25 is an extra-sized issue that features pencils by Mikel Janin and the creative writing of Tom King.
Since its announcement, writer Tom King has teased how this story will end up revealing the Dark Knight’s greatest failure. As suggested by the title, the story revolves around the Joker and Riddler, both of whom King revealed to be conflicting with each other.
Though I’m not gonna go into deep into what goes down in this issue (it’s some pretty crazy shit), I’d like to share my impressions of part one of The War of Jokes and Riddles.
Throughout this issue, Batman narrates the events that led up to this ‘war’ in Gotham. From what we see in the panels, the Joker takes on a more ominous tone that sort of diminishes the maniac side we often get from him. After losing to Batman so many times, it seems like the Joker is fed up with how things were and decides to get serious.
The Riddler, on the other hand, is characterized as more physically built than he ever was before. In this story, Edward Nygma doesn’t seem to be the scrawny, villainous geek we’re all used to. If anything, this is the most threatening the Riddler has ever appeared.
In short, the villains of this story begin deviate from their classic portrayals. However, Tom King’s vision for these two characters was, actually, very well written and was probably the best part of this issue. We get to see the Joker and the Riddler in a whole new light, in a way which we’ve never seen before, and it reveals what drove the two to spark this war in Gotham. And from what Batman tells us within these pages, we’re about see him go through the darkest of times in order to keep Gotham from falling apart.
I generally found this issue to be dark-- well, darker than the other Batman issues we’ve seen throughout the year and I absolutely love it. The story itself, in my opinion, shared a very similar vibe with Alan Moore’s Batman: The Killing Joke, for it delves into the more pessimistic side of the Batman mythos.
Given the events that occurred in Batman #25, so far, I certainly feel like this new story arc will be on par with Batman’s other great stories including Scott Snyder’s Court of Owls and Jeph Loeb’s Batman: Hush.
Part one of The War of Jokes and Riddles merely provides the context of what this war was fought over. However it’s an introduction that Batman fans can’t miss. Although the story takes place years before the current events in DC Rebirth, Tom King does an excellent job in tying this story to the events that occurred back in previous issues and what Bruce Wayne is currently going through.
What works so well with this issue is how it continues the theme of Bruce Wayne dwelling on dark past, and I can’t find it to be any more fitting. I highly recommend this issue for any comic reader to pick up.
The War of Jokes and Riddles continues in Batman #26, coming out on July 5th.