“WO-JAR” slow down there! That’s right, “The War of Jokes and Riddles” part two is here and we are treated to another piece of the ghastly puzzle that is the best Tom King Batman arc yet. We’re entering a bloody and terrifying civil war. There are lines being drawn. Joker and Riddler are carving up Gotham, turning the entire city into a giant crime alley. The GCPD and a not-quite-Batman Bruce Wayne are stuck between a quiz and a punch. Bring out the dead!
What is this all about?
‘THE WAR OF JOKES AND RIDDLES’ part two! The Riddler and The Joker escalate their bloody feud, and the villains of Gotham City are forced to choose sides or be caught in the crossfire! It’s up to Batman to push himself to the limit and keep innocent citizens out of harm’s way.
Batman’s school of nocturnal hard knocks marches on as he relives a difficult past for the benefit of his bride(?) to be Selina Kyle. In another reality, the “war” would be bride’s side vs. groom’s side. I’m still not sure about this version of Riddler. After being maimed by Joker in the last issue I love where this takes Mr. Nigma. Initially, I thought the portrayal strangely leprechaun-esque, but the Tim Burton homage is perhaps just the push I need to give this whole thing a chance, as that cape-film got me into Batman. (Carving a question mark into his chest might have been a tad on the nose, however). Poison Ivy joins the fray to mix it up with a Gotham crime family with bad luck…not naming names. In the end, Riddler is the life of the mind and Joker is all horror clown id. Joker continues to be scarier than ever. His murder for laughs gag creeps me out. One wonders how Gotham (or Bruce) can survive two titans of villainy tearing the world in half.
Overall, Tom King is building a fine story that might be best served all at once instead of in chapters. This is a slow burn, but at least it’s a good read. There has not been a great deal of Batman to be found yet, which might put some fans off. I imagine as this war escalates, the dark knight will grow into something more formidable than what we’re getting now. Riddler and Joker are mostly fully formed and besting the detective thus far.
Ultimately, Mikal Janin’s art is the reason to add this book to your pull. Previous arcs of this run have featured good and, at times, great art. Janin’s work is better than that. With King’s sometimes melodramatic Bat-narration and leisurely pacing, the art compels the eye to keep investigating and following along. The greatest rogues gallery in comics looks evil in the best possible sense.
Reviewed by Jeff Daily
Written by Tom King
Art by: Mikel Janin, June Chung, Clayton Cowles
Published by DC Comics
Release Date: July 5th, 2017