We’ve come to Batman #30, which is our second interlude in “The War of Jokes and Riddles” and the conclusion to “The Ballad of Kite Man”…
If I had to pick my favorite thing from this issue, it would definitely be the way that Kite Man is portrayed as a “fish out of water”. He’s simply not a career criminal. He’s just a normal person thrown in with all these crazies and he simply doesn’t know how to interact with them. He still has this sense of civility about him that turns him into a complete doormat around all these psychopaths.
While the story takes place in the present and shows the fall of the house of Joker as seen through the eyes of Kite Man, there is a much more poignant story being relayed to us throughout that involves Kite Man’s recollections of his son. Specifically, the way his wife would belittle him in front of their child. And much in the same way that Kite Man maintained an air of civility with his new cohorts, he did the same with his wife. Even though she was belittling him, he didn’t retaliate, and instead allowed her to save face in regards to their son’s perception of her. Now maybe some people would say he is spineless for not standing up for himself, but I think that was mighty big of him to not act in turn. While I did like that, I’m not sure his son completely understood the honor in his actions. Instead, deciding that the best way to relate to his father was to become a failure himself. And I think that’s really sad, because, don’t we all want our children to surpass us?
I also couldn’t help but notice this little passage. Sure, in context it totally makes sense for Kite Man to be saying it, but it got me to thinking. Is this Tom King talking to all his naysayers? I’ve met King a couple of times now and sat through several of his panels, and I definitely think he’s the kind of individual that rebuttals with humor. On occasion, I’ve even found him somewhat self deprecating. And that really fits in line with what he had Kite Man saying in this story. That, “If you are laughing with them, then at least you are laughing.” I’ll be honest with you guys. The more I do this job, and the more I get to know the people behind these stories, it starts to become ever so slightly more difficult to critique their work. That’s not to say I am any softer now than when I first started doing this (just look at all the nitpicks I have below). But it does give me a slight feeling of regret that perhaps a writer or artist that I criticize might think that I am attacking them personally instead of merely taking issue with their product. Then again, their product is an extension of who they are, so how could they not be offended by criticism. It’s definitely a weird vicious circle.
Not that this has anything to do with the review directly, but since this is the first Kite Man story since SDCC 2017, I felt like sharing a fun little story with you guys:
After I explained what it was, he said, “Wait…are you showing this to me, or giving it to me?” When I told him it was his, he was very surprised and asked why. I simply responded, “Because it’s Kite Man’s first appearance.” He was very grateful. He actually offered to give me an interview (which I’ve had with him before), but I didn’t want him to think I was giving him a gift just to get something in return so I graciously declined. In any case, you could say that this was simply to show King my appreciation for all he does. After all, he brought an obscure character back into the limelight. So for that, I thank him.
Time for some Nitpicks:
In Batman #28 it was mentioned that Batman and the police couldn’t intervene in the war because, if they did, The Joker would detonate a bunch of bombs he had hidden around the city and The Riddler would execute a bunch of civilians he had at gunpoint. Well, Batman is intervening. So why isn’t The Joker setting off those bombs? Sure, Batman is now technically on Riddler’s “team”, but he is still intervening. I can’t imagine Joker and Riddler wrote up some kind of rule book before this war started that dictated what they could and couldn’t do. Besides, even if they had, “All is fair in love and war” and “There is no honor among thieves”. Essentially, I can’t think of a good reason as to why The Joker is allowing Batman to steamroll him. Especially if it is based on a technicality.
The Tweedles are depicted with a rather peculiar speech pattern. I was going to say that they finish each other’s sentences, but it’s actually more than that. It’s like they share a hive mind and jump back and forth multiple times in the course of a single thought/sentences. It’s weird because I don’t recall this being a facet of their personality. I mean, maybe I’m forgetting something, but in all the stories I can recall off the top of my head (and without spending an exorbitant amount of time flipping through every appearance they have ever had) this isn’t the way they speak.
The scene with Harvey/Two-Face also seemed off to me. Throughout the scene, Harvey has a conversation with himself. To clarify, Harvey’s two distinct halves are simultaneously present and speak to one another. While this may be something that’s happened a handful of times in the character’s past, I really don’t think he is typically displayed in this fashion (or to this severe of a degree). Generally, he is seen with one side of his personality being more dominant and in control. You’ll see points where Two-Face begins to waver as the Harvey personality begins to take hold, but I don’t recall there being a “Gollum schizophrenia scene” in his past.
Even though I didn’t care for the depiction, I still thought it was cool that this particular Two-Face line was delivered by the distorted image of Harvey’s reflection from the water.
The way I figure it, since the whole story is simply Kite Man having conversations with one person after another, King probably threw in some uncommon characteristics simply to give things a little more pizazz and make them stand-out more from each other.
I’m sorry, but what in the hell is this?!?! Batman just launched a missile or something at Man-Bat and then allowed his still burning (and most likely unconscious) body to plummet to the ground. That is completely completely completely uncalled for. Don’t get me wrong, Batman is no stranger to excessive force. But come on! This really doesn’t seem like something Batman would do.
And while we are on the subject of things that Batman is pretty unlikely to do, let’s take a look at the final scene.
Odds and Ends:
- Oh, I don’t know….how about Killer Croc and Clayface!
- Solomon Grundy was on Joker’s team. Where was he in all of this? Penguin too, but I don’t need to see how Batman would take out Penguin. You don’t need any kind of special tactics for that.
- It was a little anticlimactic to see Batman taking out Joker’s entire team so effortlessly, then again, it was totally bad-ass to see Batman taking out Joker’s entire team so effortlessly.
- Throughout this story we see several posters featuring The Joker. I think it’s safe to say that these are modeled after the U.S.Army recruitment poster from 1917.
- We’ve seen this quote before (on the cover of Batman #25), but it was also a line uttered by The Riddler in the 1995 film Batman Forever.
- The BatPlane from this issue looks very much like the design from Batman: The Animated Series.
- You love Kite Man! Hell Yeah!!!
Part 2 of “The Ballad of Kite Man” focuses on ideas over action. That’s not to say that plenty of action doesn’t happen in this issue, but it takes a backseat to Kite Man’s internal musings. Considering that this story wraps up some major elements of “The War of Jokes and Riddles”, and downplays what I am sure many expected to be one of it’s main draws (the fighting), I can’t help but imagine that some people are bound to be disappointed by this. But for my money, there’s still enough to make it worth the cost of admission.
SCORE: 7 / 10