Batman (Volume 4) The War of Jokes and Riddles (Rebirth) by Tom King

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batsvol4coverTitle: Batman
Story arc: The War of Jokes and Riddles
Universe: DC Universe Rebirth
Volume: 4
Author(s): Tom King
Artist(s): Mikel Janin, June Chung, Clay Mann
Publisher: DC Comics
Format: Single Issues
Paperback Release Date: December 19th 2017
Pages: 200
Genre(s): Comics, Science Fiction
ISBN13: 9781401273613


Previously on DC Universe Rebirth’s Batman:
Batman (Volume 1) I Am Gotham by Tom King
Batman (Volume 1.5) Night of the Monster Men by Steve Orlando
Batman (Volume 2) I Am Suicide by Tom King
Batman (Volume 3) I Am Bane by Tom King
Batman/The Flash (Volume 3.5) The Button by Tom King


“And so it came. Over the next months, as I fought to hold the city together, Gotham divided. Then fell. Into Slaughter. Misery. Torture. Mayhem. Havoc. Betrayal. Devastation. Insanity.”

— Tom King, Batman (Volume 4) The War of Jokes and Riddles

With unique charisma and a never-before seen story, writer Tom King, alongside artists Mikel Janín, June Chung and Clay Mann, resuscitate the hopes of fans with what will probably go down as one of the most intriguing wars that the Dark Knight and Gotham have ever faced.

Taking place after the events of the New 52’s Zero Year, The War of Jokes and Riddles tosses two of the most unpredictable villains in a pursuit of happiness. Narrated by Bruce Wayne as he raises the curtains on this event to his newfound love Serena Kyle, the War of Jokes and Riddles offers readers a glimpse into the madness that veiled upon Gotham and that flirted with the resolve of Batman.

While the first couple story arcs written by Tom King have been shaky at best, his writing style begins to show confidence. Although the repetitive nature of his script is still present, it now has new purpose and works a lot better with characters whose sanity can be questioned. Tom King also shows that he can have a better grip on his narrative with the extra couple of issues; this volume collects issues #25 to 32.

One of the most surprising joys of this volume also lies in Tom King’s characterization of some of the most iconic villains of all time. His portrayal of both the Joker and the Riddler aren’t reminiscent of the images that fans have of these characters in the past year. Joker is introduced as the maniac we all have grown to love, but also comes with a life crisis. Batman’s ability to predict all of his moves has taken away the Joker’s ability to be unpredictable, hence taking also away his ability to laugh since being unpredictable is what cracked him up. This struggle to find anything funny is what is developed throughout the story arc and is delivered remarkably in my books.

Riddler is also portrayed differently with far more charisma and with a stronger physical build. He shares a struggle with Joker and looks to solve the greatest riddle of them all: Batman. But the problem that he points us is how they’ll both lose if either one of them does the one thing they both want first: kill the Batman. In hopes of building a partnership, these two villain quickly show readers that they are however incredibly incompatible. And so was born the War of Jokes and Riddles.

With two completely different modi operandi, these two insane villains grow in threat level and seek the aid of other villains, thus creating a massive division among all the criminals in Gotham. Tom King does a fantastic job in showing how this war among criminals could only create more casualties as the days go by, but it’s the artwork that delivers the biggest jolt by presenting us with majestic and exquisite full-page panels of the chaos that rids Gotham.

Credit has to be given to Mikel Janín (as well as the other artists who have worked on this story arc) for pencils and ink. Although there’s a lot of action going on, the story also focuses on the characters. A lot of panels are devoted to the details and the little gestures, but don’t be fooled. As little as they may be, they often held a lot of meaning. For example, there’s a whole page with equal-sized panels with just Joker trying to laugh. I felt like they really nailed those moments and conveyed far more than what words could ever have been able to do within a page.

The story also introduces us to an intriguing character who plays a pivotal role in the denouement. An interlude chapter offers readers the opportunity to understand his character and to quickly build an emotional connection to his destiny. At first he’ll feel like a question with no answers, but as Bruce Wayne continues to tell this story, you’ll only feel the ultimate blow when the character’s real purpose is revealed. Which brings me to mention how brilliant the ending was.

The final issue of this story arc is one that hit the Internet like a storm. Not only did it end on Serena Kyle’s verdict on Bruce Wayne’s big question, it also gave us the ultimate plot twist to the War of Jokes and Riddles. Readers found out what Riddler’s real intention were, plans within plans were outplayed and Batman gave us a glimpse into his mind and his conflict regarding what really distinguishes him from all the villains out there.

Brilliantly executed and cleverly plotted, Tom King sets the table for bigger things to come. While there are scenes throughout the story that challenged my sense of belief, I’ve come to compromise with King’s vision and see if this story arc is the beginning of great stories to come. One thing is for sure. The War of Jokes and Riddles is by far the best story arc that King has written so far for Batman.


You can pre-order your copy now!
Amazon (USA)
Amazon (Canada)
Chapters Indigo
Book Depository

MY OVERALL RATING: ★★★★☆

Till next time,

lashaansignature

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23 thoughts on “Batman (Volume 4) The War of Jokes and Riddles (Rebirth) by Tom King

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      Yep, Superman’s Rebirth run is one of the rare ones that’s actually going quite well. The rest aren’t as great though. I religiously follow Tom King’s Batman run as well as James Tynion IV’s Detective Comics run, so I can’t really tell you exactly why the others aren’t going so well, but from what I’m seeing from other readers, they seem to have issues about them too.

      I’m just glad that King’s Batman just got a lot more better since that Flash crossover event about the new mysterious Big Bad in the Rebirth universe.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Beth (Reading Every Night) says:

    Great review for this comic Lashaan. It sounds like Tom King’s writing has come a long way, and it’s great to see his potential show in this volume where it maybe didn’t before. The ending to The War of Jokes and Riddles (by the way I also love that title) being described as the ultimate plot twist in your review makes it sound intense, and I am so glad you enjoyed this one Lashaan.
    Again great review. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      Thank you, Beth! Yep, definitely. I’m glad to have kept on going even if I had problems with earlier volumes (although.. even if they REALLY bad, I would’ve probably continued anyways because it’s Batman. :D).

      Believe me when I say the ending is intense. It’s not even just about the way Bruce Wayne concludes his story about the War of Jokes and Riddles, but also by the emotional depth in Catwoman (Serena Kyle)’s decision to Bruce’s big question (I don’t know if you’ve heard about what that question was because of the Internet or anything though).

      Thank you so much for reading, Beth. I appreciate that. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Beth (Reading Every Night) says:

        That’s all right, and I guess you’ll be continuing on to the later volumes as well (I’m assuming based on what you said about the ending to this one there are still later volumes right?)
        Don’t know what the big question is, I manage to be lucky enough that I can avoid spoilers because I’m not very active on fandom sites or social media sites where things like that are normally spoiled. 😀
        That’s all right. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

          Oh yes, it’s an ongoing series. There’s an issue coming out every 2 weeks. Next volume would probably in a while though (wait around 5-8 issues).
          I’d gladly tell you what it is if you ever curious hahah Of course, for now, its repercussions can only be seen within the comic canon story line for Batman, but maybe some day in the future they’ll adapt it into a movie and make it happen hahah

          Liked by 1 person

          • Beth (Reading Every Night) says:

            Well hopefully that wait will prove worth it when it is released. 🙂
            I’ll say no. If there’s a possibility, however slight, it could be adapted into a movie I wouldn’t want to be spoiled for what could happen. After Wonder Woman I’ve developed a fondness for DC as well as Marvel! 😀

            Liked by 1 person

  2. Dani @ Perspective of a Writer says:

    Repetition in the narrative actually drives me crazy! So 5is sounded like a bit of a slog… but then you started talking about how Joker has a crisis because he can’t laugh and you talked about the frames showing this and how amaze they were and I’m like… well every writer has a weakness… his can be some repetition if he can build a character arc like a pro! 😁👍🏻 such a depthful review Lashaan!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      Yeh… Repetition can be tricky. There are authors out there who know how to use it insanely well though. Like Of Mice and Men. Absolutely love how repetition was used in that one. Yep, it really was well done and it’s a very intimate look at these characters, especially through the artwork! Thank you for reading Dani!! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Books, Vertigo and Tea says:

    While I am still dodging super heroes haha (although you make it so hard to do), you have to appreciate any story arc that concludes with the unexpected! I love that it seems like the writer really grew with this series! Fabulous review. But I expect nothing less from you Lashaan 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      You can’t dodge them forever!! 😀 Justice League (movies) and The Punisher (Netflix) both come out this week!!! 😉 Oh, yes. I’m really glad that it was a great improvement and that the ending was completely unexpected. Loved the twist and hope that the next story arcs will be this original! Thanks Danielle! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      It sure was. It can also be pretty much read as a stand-alone too. And wow. I don’t know how you “guessed” that, but yes. I wonder if they’ll make it happen in the current live-action universe. They do plan on making a Gotham Sirens movie (which is the name of the famous trio composed of Catwoman, Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn) so maybe they’ll tease something between Cats and Bats someday. The one we got in Tim Burton’s Batman Returns was excellent though!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Chris Evans @ Geek Blogger UK says:

    I’ve been very much looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this arc Lashaan and your analysis is right on the money! I know you haven’t been fully taken with King’s work on Batman to date but glad to see that this story was more to your liking.

    King’s handling of the Joker and Riddler was no let down and Janin’s art is a real plus. The interlude chapters with Kite Man were a great addition and broke things up nicely, no doubt allowing Janin to pencil the whole of the main arc. One thing I really appreciate about King’s Batman run is that it has always managed to maintain strong visual consistency which is no minor feat given DC’s twice monthly publishing which is often problematic with a lot of their other titles.

    I wonder, some years down the line, if “the War if Jokes and Riddles” will be considered one of the greater modern Batman stories, in the same vein as “Under the Red Hood” and “Hush”?

    On an unrelated note, what are your thoughts on Brian Michael Bendis joining DC? I’d love to see him produce a run on Batman that’s equal his work on Daredevil!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      Bro. King’s first volumes were such a pain to read for me. But with each issue/volume that came out, I started to see how he saw Batman/Bruce Wayne as well his writing style. I’m quite glad that it panned out in the end with this story arc. It really has a nice edge to it and shows that with that couple extra issues, he can deliver. I know he isn’t a bad writer either, I’ve heard great things from his other comic series (Mr. Miracle, The Vision, etc.) so it was only a matter of time before he’d have a better grip of Batman.

      Exactly my thoughts for the Kite Man interlude chapter. And that is true about the artwork. It is definitely the strongest point of the whole Batman Rebirth run for me too.

      I don’t know about that “classics status” though. I think it’ll be one among all the Rebirth titles though.. and then just be considered a classic like Under the Red Hood and Hush, but… on a lower tier or something. The thing is.. The classics we know and love from pre-52 were sooooo much longer. The volumes were THICK. It’s something I miss from that era of comics. Nowadays every volume of Rebirth is super thin and every story arc is done after 5-7 issues. DC Comics need to bring back the longer series runs.

      BMB is a fantastic addition to DC, but only if he works on one particular series and not many at the same time. He’s done some amazing classics in his career and could easily contribute to the DC lore. I just hear that his last Marvel series he’s been working on have been horrible though… That is scary.

      Like

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