If you have been following along with the blog over the past couple of months, then you know that I have been reading the latest story-arc in the Batman series entitled “The War of Jokes and Riddles.” You also probably have noticed that I have not been too excited by it, and some parts I have been fairly unkind to. This very last issue has made me begin to rethink my position on some of those problems. But for those who don’t know what has happened up to this point in the story a quick spoiler-filled summary is about to follow, so you’ve been warned.
Batman has proposed to Catwoman and says that he cannot ask her to marry him until he knows the truth about what he did years ago during the War of Jokes and Riddles. In this time the Joker cannot laugh. The Riddler starts a war with the Joker over who gets to kill Batman and all of Gotham’s villains are divided between the two sides. Batman cannot stop the carnage as dozens of innocent civilians are gunned down, including a young boy named Charlie Brown whose father swears to avenge his son’s death by becoming Kite Man and joining the Joker’s forces. Batman chooses the lesser of two evils and sides with the Riddler to stop the war once and for all. With the help of Kite Man, Batman is able to subdue all of the Joker and the Riddler’s forces. This issue begins with Batman, the Joker, and the Riddler all alone in a room together.
It is a lot to process, but it all pays off with this final issue. I am still not a fan of many of Tom King’s decisions in building up this story-arc but this finale issue made my Batman fanboy heart pump harder than it has in a while. All of the I am going to nerd out a little here because I think that every little detail in these pages was so important.
It was all apart of the Riddler’s plan to make the Joker laugh. This was unexpected, even Batman and Joker seem to be thrown off by this reveal. But the Riddler claims that he set every single action in motion to make the Joker laugh, with the big punch line being Kite Man is the one who led to their failure. But the Joker still does not laugh at this and this sends the Riddler into a fit.
Batman tries to kill the Riddler. Realizing that it was all a cruel joke, the death count begins to take its toll on Batman, and in a moment of complete clarity, he lunges at the Riddler with a blade. Only to be stopped by the Joker, who immediately begins laughing. This is the horrible deed that Batman felt he needed to tell Catwoman.
Catwoman agrees to marry Batman. Over 75 years later, it is finally happening. Enough said.
While I still do have my problems with the story, such as the pacing and the physical prowess of the Riddler, this final issue tied things up for me in a satisfying way. Upon giving this book a second read, I’m sure I will be able to appreciate it more for what it is then what I expected it to be. In the end, “The War of Jokes and Riddles” is a must read story for any hardcore Batman fan.