I thoroughly enjoyed the first issue of this series. The writing was dynamic, the art excellent and Joker was actually funny instead of being a murderous psycho in clown make-up. This issue picks up right where the first one left off: inside the interrogation room in the GCPD headquarters, where Gordon is interviewing Joker. Let’s check it out.

This is another fun issue, albeit slightly less strong than last month’s release. There are two parts to this comic. The first half is about Riddler, whereas the second half is about a SWAT team securing the puzzle box that’s currently being kept inside the GCPD evidence room. I like that the issue opens with Riddler’s sequence, during which he delves into a tomb to find a magical artifact. It’s a fun and adventurous story that leads into a different scene where Riddler meets Joker to discuss the possibility of working together. All of this is very intriguing and something that I want to see unfold.

But, by contrast, the second half about the SWAT team bores me. The narration is dry, there’s no more comedy, and the creative team hasn’t managed to make me feel the same urgency that the characters are feeling, mostly because I still don’t really understand what the puzzle box is. Had the issue been structured differently, with the SWAT team rushing into the evidence room before cutting to the Riddler segment, I think the build-up and pacing would have been stronger. Not only would it have been an action-driven opening that would make readers ask questions, but the issue would’ve ended on a much more intriguing cliffhanger that really would’ve made me hungry for more. The cliffhanger that we actually get just doesn’t pack the same punch and, as a result, diminishes the build-up throughout the book.

This month Merino is joined by Hixson to create the art. Merino’s work isn’t as impressive as it was in the previous issue, but that’s because this time Merino doesn’t get the chance to flex his artistic muscles as much. Merino still finds great angles and close-ups, and he makes all the characters look and behave realistic. Even though most of Merino’s scenes are just about people talking in rooms, at least the artwork is still dynamic enough to keep me engaged. On a technical level, it’s solid stuff—I just wish that the script called for more exciting scenes than the ones we got.

Hixson’s Riddler pages, on the other hand, are fantastic. He makes the scenes inside the tomb claustrophobic by using smaller panels and close-ups, and the art that Hixson created for the Riddler/Joker scene is hands down the best work inside this issue. We find the characters inside a basement, watching a boxing match. The lights match both Riddler and Joker’s outfits, as both have green and purple as their primary colors, which washes across the panels like a wave of madness. The way that the conversation between the two villains is interrupted by close-ups on the boxers creates a tense visual atmosphere that goes hand-in-hand with the mind games that Riddler and Joker are playing with each other. Hixson’s inks are a little bit thick and muddy at times, and I can see how that might not be someone’s taste, but I think that this contributes to the grimy aesthetics of the basement. The only thing that perhaps doesn’t work out very well for Hixson—or Merino, for that matter—is the fact that their styles are vastly different, which can creates a somewhat jarring transition. Perhaps it would’ve been better if DC had hired only one of these artists to draw this issue and not both, if only for consistency’s sake.

Recommended if…

  • You’re looking for a different kind of Joker story.
  • You are a fan of Hixson’s art—it really is worth a gander!

Overall: It’s an entertaining book, but it’s just not as good as #1. The art is solid, but the two featured artists’ different styles clash a little bit. I also find that the issue could’ve been structured and paced better, because now it just kind of peters out toward the end. That said, the first half of this issue is really cool and the mystery of the puzzle box keeps me hooked, so I still recommend this one!

Score: 7.5/10

Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with an advance copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.