MINOR SPOILERS BELOW
Tom King is putting his own touches on the long and incredible Batman history with Batman #26, which continues The War of Jokes and Riddles. In the second chapter of this tale, we discover that this war between The Joker and The Riddler had happened a year after Bruce became Batman. This is similar to the excellent Zero Year Scott Snyder and Greg Cappulo created in their run a few years ago. Batman’s past is always being retold, and it is amazing that after this many fantastic runs by so many good creators, it can still be interesting. Thankfully, in my opinion, King is off to a great start with this arc, and I am excited to see where this goes.
Here we get a different version of The Riddler. He’s angrier, a little more out there, and even has his shirt unbuttoned, exposing his bare chest (now complete with a carved in question mark), and a long ponytail. There have been so many different versions of Nigma, and it was fun to see another one. He came across as a little bit of a Guy Ritchie character, and while he was still obsessed with the riddles, seemed a much more intimidating foe physically, instead of just mentally. The Joker is mostly similar to the classic version you all know and love (or hate), and he is obsessed with jokes, and punchlines, and searching for them in this story. It creates some awkward comedy, as he’s a lost comedian looking for a reason to laugh. Unfortunately killing seems to be the only thing that he seems to find humor in. Together these two crime kings of mind games are preparing to go to war with each other (see, this arc is not just a clever name), which will set up the other villains of Gotham City to join sides.
As for art, Mikel Janín once again shows he was made for this book. I have enjoyed every artist on this book. Be it, Gerads, Finch, and others, but Janín provides splash pages that are pure works of art. Each of the artists provide a unique style to this run, and it makes it so much better. DC should be applauded for this, and more specifically, the editorial team. The other thing I wanted to mention about Janín, is the way he draws emotion. The looks on The Joker, Riddler, Ivy, Batman, and others in this book is incredible. Sometimes you don’t even need the text to know what they’re thinking. June Chung does a fantastic job on colors, by playing with the different shades of green, purple, and blue for each of their respected villians and hero.
So far, The War of Jokes and Riddles is a lot of sadistic fun, and while it is another dark and brooding Batman story, sometimes those are the best ones. There’s just enough intrigue and mystery just around the shadowy corner of this arc to be excited to see where it goes, even if it does seem a bit disturbing at times. King has proven he can deliver an ending before, and I am hopeful that this story cements his run as another iconic tale in the bat-history. I recommend this book, as well as Batman #25, which started this arc.
Story: Tom King Pencils, Inks & Cover: Mikel Janín
Colors: June Chung Letters: Clayton Cowles
Story: 8.5 Art: 9.5 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy
DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review