Writer: Tom King
Pencils: Clay Mann
Inks: Seth Mann
Colours: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Cover: Mikel Janin
Publisher: DC Comics
After the sit down talks of issue #29, we return to the story of loveable D list villain Kite Man and experience how the War of Jokes and Riddles plays out through his eyes. While I say loveable, the one thing Tom King has done is make me care for this man. The first part of this story back in issue #27 was heart breaking. A normal man who gets caught up with the wrong crowd (Jokers gang) leading to the Riddler poisoning his son while doing his favourite hobby – namely flying kites. This trauma caused Chuck to create his own suit based on his son’s hobby and hence Kite Man was born.
This background information causes Batman #30 to read more like a tragedy than a superhero book. By this stage, it is apparent that Batman has chosen to side with the Riddler and together they systematically take down every rogue in Joker’s team with the exception of Kite Man. While usually this would be a fist pumping, feel good issue, I felt a little hollow at the end of it. Here’s a man who has been called a Joke his whole life by family, friends and even his own wife. A man who is viewed as so weak, that he was deliberately the last villain caught just so he would give in under questioning and give away Joker’s last known position. Throughout the story there is a dialogue going on between Chuck and his son Charlie, slowly revealing the doubt that Charlie has for his Dad’s character. It’s just really really sad and therefore it is difficult to feel celebration at Batman doing what Batman does best. And yet, Kite Man is a villain and should circumstance dictate punishment? This of course is exactly what King wants his readers to feel. While contained in a Batman comic, this is not a Batman story. It is the story of the villains and each villain has their own story. When tragedy strikes, how you deal with it may result in whether or not you become the hero or the villain.
A favourite panel in this book perhaps explains why Batman chose to side with Riddler over the Joker. The joker is naturally unhinged and therefore difficult to work with. The Riddler on the other hand thrives off logic. A caveat of working together is that no-one dies. It is interesting that Bruce knows Nigma will only ever operate under these logical parameters. With this arc coming to an end in the next few issues, it’s also worth pointing out that any alliance Batman has created The Riddler is tenuous at best and could well blow up at the start of the next issue but while it runs I am intrigued to see where the story goes.
In my last review, I stated quite clearly that I think Mikel Janin is one of the best artists Batman has ever had. The story of Kite Man is being drawn by Clay Mann however and I think he does a fantastic job. It has a slight noir vibe off it while portraying character emotions very clearly. Inks by Seth Mann compliment very well, giving a softer approach to highlight Kite Man’s emotions and Jordie Bellaire is a genius at whatever she touches so she doesn’t ever need critiqued.
This is a touching a poignant story that I hope will resonate with readers. As per usual, King scripts his issues full blockbuster battles but they fade to the background as philosophy and idealism take centre-stage. Another highly accomplished piece of work.