The most recent installment of “The War of Jokes and Riddles” in Batman #29 sees a break from the destruction of Gotham by the warring factions controlled by both the Joker and the Riddler and sees a sit down hosted at Wayne Manor by Bruce Wayne. A 9-course French meal is prepared by Alfred for Bruce, Joker, and Riddler in an attempt to flesh out which side will win. This issue may have been the most interesting one in the storyline yet, a nice slow story all set within one night during dinner. It is a nice change from the fast-paced, montage style of storytelling that informed the prior issues. This issue also demonstrated just how desperate all three of the dinner guests are for the war to finally end.
As unique and interesting as this story was, it proved to me that Tom King does not know how to write the Riddler. He has made the Riddler into a miniature Bane, with both physical and mental skill, instead of just relying on his mind. There is a part where the Joker throws a knife across the table at the Riddler, and the Riddler simply catches it inches away from his head. That is not who the Riddler is or what the Riddler is capable of doing. It also irritated me that he had several goons right next to him that could have caught the knife instead (Such as Poison Ivy with a vine or Killer Croc), thus showing that Riddler’s intelligence led him to bring the right people to the dinner. Instead, King insists on making the Riddler somewhat of a physical threat and misses the mark on his character almost completely.
However, King nails the Joker. In previous issues, it was difficult to see what kind of Joker King was writing as we saw so little of him, but now there is an issue where we see the type of Joker that is part of this story and I’m into it. I think King’s understanding of the character really shines through when the Joker describes how he would kill the Batman, it felt brutally honest and deranged but with odd emotional connection fans have come to expect between Batman and the Joker. Although this Joker does not laugh, this is certainly an example of younger version of Scott Synder’s Joker.
The issue ends with Bruce agreeing to give one billion dollars to the side he thinks should win, which is honestly completely cartoonish and ridicolous. I guess give them money if you have to, but one billion dollars sounds like Bruce just watched Austin Powers. Anyway, of course the issue ends with the cliffhanger of not knowing who Bruce will give the money to. The next issue is also an interlude featuring part two of the Kite-Man story, exactly what every fan is demanding more of, so we probably won’t get the answer to the big question from this issue until a month from now.
Overall, I give this issue an 8 out of 10. What did you think of this fancy dinner party? Do you like a tough Riddler? Who do you think Bruce chose? Please let me know and as always, thanks for reading and have a nice day!