SYNOPSIS: “THE WAR OF JOKES AND RIDDLES” part five! Batman has done his best to keep the peace, but with neither faction backing down, he may have to choose the lesser of two evils if he wants the violence to end. Will Batman embrace the murderous anarchy of The Joker or the bloody fascism of The Riddler? If he wants to win, he’ll have to choose a side -- and either way, he loses.
Much like its plot, BATMAN #29 is a delicious nine-course meal properly prepared by writer Tom King and an art team capably commanded by Mikel Janín. Jett declared on Twitter that this is "one of the most original Batman stories I've ever read in my 50+ years of Bat-Fandom," and friends, he's not wrong.
What's your favorite "Batman on film" moment? For me it's the scene in THE DARK KNIGHT where Batman goes undercover as Bruce Wayne in broad daylight to rescue Coleman Reese. He prowls the streets in Wayne's Lamborghini, calling out the names and faces of (almost) every cop to Alfred (because of course Batman would know the names and faces of every cop in Gotham, because that's what he does) to achieve his goal, which he does in a fake traffic fumble that only Bruce Wayne could accomplish.
We get something similar in this issue, with Batman using Bruce Wayne to get The Joker and The Riddler (and a few of their deadliest cronies) to put the brakes on "The War of Jokes and Riddles" long enough to break bread.
And not at a fancy restaurant, but right at the dining room table...of Wayne Manor.
As you can imagine, Alfred is not amused.
Our hero talks to them like Batman without losing Bruce Wayne's voice, lining out a big-money plan to end the war once and for all. You'll have to read the issue to discover his proposal. It's absolutely bonkers, but we also know that Bruce would never put Batman into that kind of situation if he couldn't take it.
And of course he can take it. The fun will come from seeing how Bruce decides between the cases made by each faction, and we won't find out about that until next issue. What makes this issue tick is its originality and, to a large extent, its art. Janín inks his own pencils (with an assist from Hugo Petrus); June Chung provides the handsome colors. And as perfect as her colors are in details such as the different shades of green in The Joker, The Riddler, Killer Croc, and Poison Ivy, the most stunning images in this one are black and white panels and splashes that serve as flashbacks and fantasies of The Joker and The Riddler playing out Wayne's plan in their heads.
My favorite two pages in the whole thing have a full-color Joker and Riddler in each corner with a massive monochrome Batman looming over a montage of melee and mayhem behind them. It's more poster-worthy work from Mr. Janín, and we can't forget how much character is in the characters of letterer Clayton Cowles.
I remain blown away by this story. This could easily have been several issues of punching and posturing, but King has consistently made interesting and original choices that make this war human and real, especially to Batman. "The War of Jokes and Riddles" marches on with my highest possible recommendation. - John Bierly
John Bierly still can't believe he gets to write for BOF.
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