Review: Batman #30

In the second “War of Jokes and Riddles” interlude, it’s the making of a super-villain! He’s been pushed by Batman to snitch on The Joker, and cajoled by The Joker to betray Batman-now, the flunky who would be Kite Man finally snaps. He’s lost everything, and a life of crime is the only way to go.

Batman #30 is the second part of “The Ballad of Kite Man” we follow up with Kite Man who’s now chest deep in Joker’s crew as the war rages between the Riddler and Joker. Batman has chosen sides and is taking down villains one by one, with some rules to go by.

The first part of “The Ballad of Kite Man” was one of the best single issues of the year and this second part is just as solid as we see a man slide into villainy… in a rather pathetic sort of way. And it’s that sad reality of the character that’s the draw.

Writer Tom King brings you into this character’s world as he reflects upon what’s going around him as he thinks about his child. You can see the desperate and sad nature of it all and by the end of the issue I felt both disgusted and sad for him. King has added more depth to Kite Man in two issues than probably all of his previous 57 years of existence. The character isn’t as much of a joke as his a tragedy. This is the average schmoe who turns to a life of crime as nothing else is working and even then no one takes him seriously. Add in domestic issues and the character feels like a fully realized arc in two issues. We see his slide and by the end of this issue it’s a very different Kite Man, one I hope we see more of.

But, it’s that end of the issue that is the answer to both the riddle and the joke. We see how both the Riddler and Batman see him and though he’s the last man standing (not really a spoiler) it’s not because of his strength but his weakness. He’s seen as a joke and thus answers the riddle of why he’s left for last. King’s set up is utterly brilliant in this way and one that you can debate at depth.

The art by Clay Mann is amazing and the use of every character is top notch. King delivers humor in his story and the panels where it exists had me laughing out loud (many say this, I actually did it) and at the same time Mann’s decisions for what he does and doesn’t show creates an ominous atmosphere of Batman stalking the Joker’s allies one by one. He’s the predator that lurks off panel that you only see quickly or at the last second. It’s the Batman we knew exists but rarely see.

Is perfection too much to call something? The first part of Kite Man’s story and this create two issues that for me is the best of the year for me. Kite Man has turned from a joke to a tragic character and one I have a lot of sympathy for. Just utter brilliance that can show that even joke characters can be made into something special.

Story: Tom King Art: Clay Mann Cover Art: Mikel Janin
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review