Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Mikel Janin
Release Date: 21st June 2017
I hate compromises. I hate them even more in art. Sadly, Batman #25 feels like a compromise too far.
I’ve made no secret that I have very much enjoyed King’s Batman in spite of the tonal shifts that frequently happen between arcs and issues. The latest issue kicks off the “War of Jokes and Riddles”, which pitches long standing villains The Joker and The Riddler against each other.
Told via flashback, this issue feels off-kilter. On one hand there is a potentially great interpretation of The Joker, which draws as much from his Golden Age depiction as it does the more recent portrayals. This is a cold, calculating psychopath who has no fear or limits. At times this ventures into Gotham Central territory. This is a good thing.
Sadly, the portrayal is diminished as it shares space with the New 52-style depiction of The Riddler. Sadly, Mr Nygma comes off as Joker-lite, with his more buffed-up appearance robbing the character of the grace and style seen in the Animated Series or the excellent “Dark Knight, Dark City”.
Without giving away spoilers, I will say that more so than usual, this story would have been better served in Detective. An epic crime story taking place in the Gotham Underworld would have played out wonderfully, but in the more “superhero” slanted Batman, this feels out of place. This arc could have been featured in Legends of the Dark Knight, such is the tone and pitch of the story.
This should feel like The Long Halloween, but worryingly it feels more like “War Games”. Out of the two tales, the former is a high point, one I truly hope this arc reaches. The writing is strong, the art striking, but overall there is something missing, a connecting piece to bridge the gaps. Once again, King’s Batman feels like an independent psychological thriller trapped inside a summer blockbuster.
Batman #25 is a good read, but it should be a great read. Hell, it should be a must read. But you should still read it. This is an entertaining comic, it just isn’t an important comic. And that’s a damn shame, as it has all the components to be. Did I tell you that I hate compromises?
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The writer of this piece was: Craig Gorman.
Craig Tweets from @Gorminator1979