Writer: Tom King
Artist: Mikel Janin
Colors: June Chung
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Anyone picking up Batman #25 with the hope of finding out Catwoman’s response to Batman’s proposal from last issue is going to be let down, but not disappointed as Batman #25 is an absolute gem of an issue. The War of Jokes and Riddles begins with this issue, and just as Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo did with Zero Year Tom King and Mikel Janin are taking the readers back to another lost chapter of a young Batman and what he had to do for Gotham to survive a war between the Joker and the Riddler.
I’ve never been afraid of the Riddler. I can’t say that any more. Tom King did the seemingly impossible in one issue. He made the Riddler scary. King brought out the intelligence and manipulation of a megalomaniac with an IQ off the charts and no regard for human life and made me fearful of the possibility of what the Riddler could truly be. The Joker has always been scary to me, and it’s not just my intense dislike of clowns. Rather it is his psychopathic lust of violence and death without regard and all for a laugh. With Batman #25 King has put these two homicidal maniacs on the path of war and Gotham is ground zero for the coming chaos.
If this were a stand-alone event then Batman #25 would be the zero issue as it sets the stage for what is to come. It tells the tale of how the Riddler and the Joker came to hate one another and what sparked their war. The War of Jokes and Riddles is set a year after Zero Year, so once again we are delving into an unknown past of Gotham and Batman. The book is divided between the two villains, showing us their fates after the zero year of Gotham and the issue builds to their first meeting with the possibility of what could be a bromance to end the ages but becomes something far scarier. Batman only appears for a page, but you don’t miss him as you are riveted to the stories of the Joker and the Riddler and the issue will leave you wanting more.
When Tom King took over Batman there was a tonal shift from what Snyder had been doing. It bothered some readers, especially those who had only been with Batman since Snyder and Capullo had begun their run during the New 52. But long time readers recognized the shift from Snyder’s horror elements to a Silver Age of the Dark Knight detective, reminiscent of the Dennis O’Neil and Neal Adams era of Batman comics, and it works. I have really come to love King’s Batman run and enjoy where he is taking not only Batman but also Bruce Wayne. Joining King for this storyline is Mikel Janin, who is producing the best artwork of his career. Batman #25 is absolutely beautiful. It’s dark, with a noir feel to it but perfectly detailed and very realistic. Janin also knows his comic history, and pays a beautiful homage to the original first appearances of both the Riddler and the Joker with a jaw dropping splash page. If Batman #25 is any indication then the War of Jokes and Riddles is going to be a historic story for the ages.
Verdict: Batman #25 is a gorgeous book visually but more importantly an incredibly compelling read. Tom King and Mikel Janin have created the perfect kick off issue for the War of Jokes and Riddles and it is a must Buy for any fan of Batman or just great comics in general.