Ricky Church reviews Batman #25…
“The War of Jokes and Riddles” part one! Don’t miss this extra-sized anniversary issue! In his own words, Bruce Wayne narrates a harrowing, never-before-told story of the Dark Knight’s greatest failure…and the horrors it unleashed! In the spirit of YEAR ONE and THE LONG HALLOWEEN, prepare to see a side of Batman you’ve never seen before—get in on the ground floor of a classic Batman epic in the making!
It goes without saying The Joker and The Riddler are two of Batman’s most formidable foes. Joker often challenges Batman on a philosophical level while Riddler an intellectual one and while both share an obsession with Batman, the two couldn’t be more different in how they operate against the Dark Knight. Tom King sets out to examine what happens when happens when Joker and Riddler go to war in Batman #25’s introductory chapter to King’s ambitious ‘The War of Jokes and Riddles’.
This first issue is all set up as King takes readers back to Batman’s early days as a crime fighter, hot of a string of successes in Gotham City. Unfortunately for him, Joker is going on something of a rampage at the same time Riddler escapes and seeks an alliance with the clown. While this is a set-up issue, it doesn’t detract at all from making the story very engaging and tense. It moves along at a good pace, ending on an intriguing note that will make readers look forward to the months ahead.
King has a very good grasp on the two villains, particularly Riddler. Many writers avoid him because they think he’s a tough character to write, especially wit all the riddles that have to be used. King, however, writes a very smart and even menacing Riddler. He’s able to capture your attention with just his words, though still comes off very threatening in a couple scenes. One scene is a bit surprising because Riddler has never been a physical villain, preferring to use elaborate death traps over physical violence. It seems like a moment for shock value, but also speaks to how Riddler adapts to his surroundings.
King’s Joker, meanwhile, is pretty terrifying. Its weird to see a Joker who is not able to laugh, but that actually raises his threatening presence. A Joker who can’t bring himself to laugh turns out to be a terrifying force in what he’s willing to do to try smiling. Riddler’s analysis of why this is, that Batman has made everything too predictable for him, is pretty on the nose. Their conversation (or rather, Riddler talking at Joker) was the issue’s best scene. Its rare we ever see these two one-on-one with each other, which is just another reason that this storyline is so appealing.
Mikel Janin’s art is very good throughout the issue. He makes Joker look scary with every image, especially in the close-ups of his face, and his collage of several of Batman’s rogues is one of the standout pieces from the issue. His take on Riddler looks a little more physically imposing than usual at times, but its also nice to see he’s remaining a bit consistent with Greg Capullo’s Riddler design considering this takes place not too long after ‘Zero Year’. June Chung’s colours also make it a very vibrant issue with a wide array of different colours throughout the issue.
Batman #25 is a great first chapter to ‘The War of Jokes and Riddles’, promising a very enticing battle between two of Batman’s greatest and most well-known enemies. His handling of Joker and Riddler is already very much in character and with the flash-forward shown at the end, should be a very interesting story to come.