Batman made one of the hardest decisions of his life as he decided to take Riddler’s side in the War of Jokes and Riddles. This decision already showed to have major consequences for the war as Batman and Riddler combined their resources to take out the majority of Joker’s army. Now backed into a corner it seems as though Joker will be forced to play whatever last wild card he has up his sleeve. Knowing the Joker that could end up being the worst case scenario for Batman, Riddler and Gotham City. Will the War of Jokes and Riddles finally come to an end? Let’s find out with Batman #31.
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Mikel Janin
Colorist: June Chung
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: In an apartment Joker questions a nervous guy if he will remember him in a year. Joker eventually gets frustrated with how nervous the guy is reacting and beats him to death.
In a nearby rooftop Batman and Riddler go over how Joker has booby trapped the entire tower with a bomb. Batman reveals that he already has someone working on getting inside without triggering any traps: Catwoman.
Outside the tower Catwoman is shown scaling the building and reaches the window that gives her a view of Joker beating a man to death. Joker quickly spots Catwoman and begins shooting her. While falling Catwoman is able to catch a ledge and break into an apartment for safety.
In the present Bruce apologizes to Selina for putting her in such a dangerous predicament.
Back to the past, Catwoman tells Batman there are no triggers in the glass. Batman relays the information to Riddler and says he will leave Riddler to figure out how to use that information.
Riddler stops Batman from walking away, saying that he will come with him. Riddler then reveals that he had Kite Man create kites for his army to use to glide into Joker’s apartment.
Inside the apartment Joker cuts off the guy’s hand and throws it out the window. As soon as he turns around the Riddler glides in with his army.
Riddler quickly subdues Joker and knocks him down. Riddler then mocks Joker for always being in second place.
Batman tells Riddler to stop as the war is over. Riddler aggress and has his army of villains surround Batman.
Kite Man suddenly activates a device that cause all the members of Riddler’s army flying out of the apartment. Batman reveals he had a plan within a plan.
Kite Man says this is revenge for what Riddler did to his son. Riddler knocks Kite Man out for his actions.
Joker gets back up and goes over how his wife asked him what he did today and he said “nothing.” Joker continues to say when his wife tried to interrupt him he said he wasn’t finished talking.
In the present Bruce reveals that it was in this moment with him as Batman, Joker and Riddler wait for the others to make a move that he made a did something that could decide if Selina can forgive him and still marry him. End of issue.
The Good: A Joker left to his own devices is the most dangerous version of the character. That is shown with how unhinged Joker acted throughout Batman #31. That along with how both Batman and Riddler act set the stage for a very intriguing climax to one of the most intriguing Batman storylines in recent memory.
Opening Batman #31 with Joker going utterly crazy as he questioned a nervous guy about being remembered set the proper tone for the rest of the issue. It set Joker up as someone who has nothing left to lose and is letting his own insanity takeover. That mentality made Batman and Riddler approaching Joker’s place carefully make even more sense. At this point Joker will go for broke as he knows Batman and Riddler will come for him and is willing to take them out with him.
That mentality gave us more time to explore the relationship between Batman and Riddler after they officially became partners in the last issue. Tom King made it clear that this is an extremely uneasy alliance with Batman and Riddler still keeping things from the other. Seeing the lack of trust between the two made what each character do come off as less predictable as neither one wanted to show their hand.
That played nicely into how Batman and Riddler ended up using Kite Man to execute their respective plans. With how much time was spent building up Kite Man to be more than one-dimensional villain King delivered the proper payoff with the character in Batman #31. The moment Kite Man got his ultimate revenge on Riddler felt well earned. It was made even sweeter with how it was all part of Batman’s plan to be one step ahead of Riddler.
This all helped to highlight how its Riddler’s overconfidence in his mind that is always his downfall. At this point Riddler knew that Joker would be unable to fight back. Knowing that made it easier for Batman to create a plan that Riddler would not see coming. It also served as an example as to how someone as smart as Riddler will always fail because as soon as he smells victory he allows his confidence to consume him.
Batman’s plan to create a scenario where he, Joker and Riddler are the last ones standing create even more of a mystery as to what exactly is his darkest decision. It is still not clear what Batman will do to officially end the War of Jokes and Riddles. Given how Bruce speaks to Selina in the present it does seem like it was a big status quo changer.
Speaking of the present day dialogue, Batman #31 featured the best use of Bruce being the narrator of the story thus far. King did a great job using Bruce retelling the story to Selina to enhance everything going on in the past without getting in the way of the story developments. Seeing how remorseful Bruce was with how he used Selina during the war made you wonder what exactly he decided to do that would make Selina possibly change her mind on him.
Mikel Janin continues to be a consistent force behind “The War Of Jokes And Riddles.” Even with minimal action Janin gets across how big this story is throughout Batman #31. From the unhinge way Joker acts to Riddler’s overconfidence, Janin is able to get across the state of mind each character is in through his artwork. The final scene had the effective chilling mood that makes you as a reader look forward to how things will conclude between Batman, Joker and Riddler.
The Bad: Nothing.
Overall: Batman #31 was a thoroughly enjoyable fifth chapter to “The War Of Jokes And Riddles.” Tom King and Mikel Janin do an excellent job setting the stage for an epic finally with Batman, Joker and Riddler left alone in a room together. On the way King was able payoff the major character development of Kite Man in a satisfying way. These developments along with several other character choices made the final chapter of “The War Of Jokes And Riddles” something that is highly anticipated.