Writer: Tom King/Artist: Mikel Janín/DC Comics

Tom King’s officially been in the driver’s seat for Batman for a year. And what a year it’s been. To celebrate the journey we’ve all taken thus far, King brings us an event DC’s been building up to for a while.

When I first heard about “The War of Jokes and Riddles” I was a combination of curious and confused – the former more than the latter. There are plenty of reasons one could come up with to have The Riddler and The Joker face-off. But would the one King chose be any good? The answer is yes.

The latest issue of Batman keeps Batman in the background as he narrates the story of a time when two of his greatest foes went to war, essentially over him. If your main points of reference for either the Joker or Riddler are from another medium, it’s time to catch up and find out just how incredibly powerful they both are. If this issue does anything, it shows just how destructive and capable they both can be with the proper motivation.
Ah, speaking of motivation. Allow me to stand up and applaud the mental acrobatics it took to figure out that Batman was the spark to starting this war. Both of our main characters, because Batman’s working increasingly well as a supporting character, are staving off bouts of depression and complacency in their lives.

After their countless run-ins with the Dark Knight, neither have anything to show for it outside of busted riddles and ruined punchlines. How do they plan to fix it? Well, Joker believes that getting rid of Batman once and for all will help him laugh again. Riddler, meanwhile, needs him alive so that he can’t tell an unbeatable riddle to a dead man.
Issue #25 of Batman is what made hits the nail on the head of what King is doing in this run. He’s adding a new level of depth to every character he gets his hands on. The Joker’s been depressed before, but this representation of it is fresh. The Riddler’s been capable of more than brain-twisting for a while, but was he ever able to walk out of prison with so much brutality and ease? Nah. This is some new level sh*t. When it comes to writing ability, King went for the Arabian Flip and stuck the landing.

Also good to see that Batman and Catwoman are still going strong because if there weren’t any callbacks after issue #24 I would’ve flipped a table and demanded some answers.

9.5 out of 10

Reading Batman? Find BNP’s other reviews of the series here.

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