Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Tom King
Art: Mikel Janin
Colours: June Chung
Inks: Mikel Janin, Hugo Petrus
Release Date: 4th October 2017
The story finally reaches its end, Bruce/Batman finishes his tale to Selina and everything is laid bare. The reason for the war, the difference between a joke and a riddle and, of course, the all important question that Bruce asked Selina what seems like a lifetime ago, it’s all answered here.
Tom King has been writing a darker, more brooding Batman recently and this latest arc sees that trend continue. The battle between the Joker and the Riddler finally succeeds in breaking the Bat, mentally at least, and we finally understand why a war like this can never be allowed to happen. The Riddler’s twisted persona is on display in full force this issue as he reveals to everyone the motivation behind the entire battle. We are reminded of just how weirdly protective the Joker is of Batman and there are nods to The Killing Joke and the “one bad day” scenario.
Mikel Janin really gets to sink his teeth into the story and use some of the most haunting depictions of a Joker without a smile. Riddler’s insanity and exasperation is written all over his face as he realises no one else can understand the logic he is following. The entire conclusion takes place in one room so the body language and facial expressions are key this issue, with Janin delivering a powerful finish to his work.
June Chung’s colours once more breathe life into the book, giving the entire event a ghastly elegance. The colours used are darker and more stifling than any of the other Bat family books which is the way it should be considering the tone. An overpowering darkness both surrounds and penetrates each panel, carrying with it a sombre weight.
In the end this is a story that starts off with one singular focus but all too quickly it became apparent that a lot more was going on here than what we knew. By the time we reach the conclusion the plot has narrowed, but King still manages to answer multiple questions, one of which is an overhang from last month. It feels self-contained yet it clearly effects Batman’s world on a fundamental level, and although it is not tied in with the Metal event, if one thing in the tale changed it could well have been.
A well told and truly dark Batman tale that will have lasting consequence to his world in the long run. It is an uncomfortable setting for fans of the Bat but the ending of the story humanises him in ways that many other writers struggle with. Definitely a book worth your time and a place in your pull list this month.
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The writer of this piece was: Dave MacPhail
Dave Tweets from @ShinKagato