SYNOPSIS: “THE BALLAD OF KITE MAN” part two! In our 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.
"Kite Man! Hell, yeah!" Who would have thought that Kite Man -- KITE MAN! -- would come to epitomize so much of the heart and horror of "The War of Jokes and Riddles." Issue #30, out today, calls itself an interlude (as did issue #27, which began this Kite Man story), even though it emphatically answers a big question posed by Bruce to Alfred at the end of the original and incredible issue #29, which we here at BOF HQ are still giddily gushing over.
Clay Mann (pencils) and Seth Mann (inks) step in once again like champs for Mikel Janín on art duties, and the realism they bring both to action and emotion is handsomely realized by gorgeously dismal colors from Jordie Bellaire, whose bittersweet palette paints exactly how the fighters in this battle are feeling. Everyone's exhausted, no one even cares why they're fighting anymore, and any sincere reasons behind initial loyalties are long forgotten. It's just war for war's sake, foolishly fought in the names of a pair of murderous madmen.
We knew Batman was going to take a side, but we still don't know what game he's playing. All we know is that the eyes of this story -- which belong to Kite Man -- are filled with tragedy and tears. Writer Tom King accompanies these gut-wrenching pages with Kite Man's soul-crushing remembrance of a conversation he had with his young son, whose despicable murder at the hands of one of the war's generals has placed Kite Man in the unique position of being the one man in this abysmal battle who just keeps pushing the boulder up the hill, even when he knows it's always going to roll over him just before he gets to the top.
Page after page, partner after partner, Kite Man gets knocked down harder and harder. The tragedy is how and by whom, culminating in an ending comprised of three people in a room. If issue 27 is still as fresh in your head and in your heart as it is in mine, the emotion and confusion you'll feel is overwhelming, and it's yet another reason why King's story here has been so masterful.
I say it in every review -- we feel the reality of the war because of how capably King has made it human. And you know he's doing something right when Kite Man -- KITE MAN! -- has you on the verge of weeping. (Or perhaps past the verge. I admit nothing.) I want justice for his boy so badly I can taste it, and you will, too. In the meantime, seek out this superb and surprising story. - John Bierly
John Bierly still can't believe he gets to write for BOF.
Check out JOHNBIERLY.COM to read about the other things he writes about.