BATMAN #31 & #32

What would you prefer: To laugh yourself to death or to confuse yourself to death? Personally speaking, I'd rather read the following two comic book's created by Tom King, Mikel Janin, and published by DC. That way, the only problem I'll have to deal with, is if I shocked myself to death. It's October, 2017, and it's time for another Batman double review.

TO QUOTE George S. Patton: 'The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other b@stard die for his'.

Once upon a time a war broke out in Gotham City between the Joker and the Riddler, a war in which people died, villains took sides, and at the end of the day, nigh on everyone broke down and cried, cried, cried. But then, one fateful night, Batman stood up and decided to put an end to this mess, once and for all. In doing so, however, he had to join forces with the Riddler and come up with a plan that would negate this battle without suffering any casualties.

The first thing he did; was to urge Kite-man to divulge the whereabouts of the Jokers hideout. Then, once he did that, afterwards he hired Catwoman to help him scope out the place in question, before tricking the Riddler and his army of men to fly inside and take the Joker down.

Yes, that's correct, I did say trick. You see, unbeknownst to the Riddler, Batman made sure that both he and his men were wearing hang-gliders made by Kite-man when they flew into the Jokers sanctuary. That way Alfred could remotely whisk them away once the deed was finally done.

That's everyone except for the Riddler, of course, who quickly gives his two adversaries a big hug as they all live happily ever after. No. Not really. In all seriousness, these three men then face off against each other until one of them finally comes out on top. Batman punches, the Joker kicks, and the Riddler takes out a knife and is ready to stab, stab, stab! But who wins? Who loses? Batman? His two enemies? Gotham? And how does any of this play out when Bruce comes clean to Selena regarding the final outcome of this war? For more information please pick up issue 31 and 32 of Batman today. Trust me, both of these installments are a fairly decent read, basing my findings on the following three reasons. Here, check them out...

Reason One) I DON'T BELIEVE IT:   I'm afraid to say I wasn't a huge fan of how Tom King depicted most of the characters featured in this story-line. For the most part Batman came across as a follower, rather than a leader, and I don't think for one single minute he would casually stand by and allow his opponents to cause harm to someone else.

Funnily enough, I can say exactly the same thing about Batman’s Rogues Gallery, as most of them were depicted as a bunch of obedient cretins who obeyed every instruction the Riddler gave them. I mean, they're villains, for crying out loud, not henchmen, and I don't think any of them would follow someone else's orders so easily. They never have before.

Now in stark contrast to this, I did enjoy spending some time with Tom's version of the Joker and the Riddler. In the case of the Joker, I liked the way in which his frustration came out through his actions (sometimes they were funny, other times they were strained); whereas in the Riddlers case, it's good to know that this smug b@stards biggest problem is his own ego (thus maintaining a consistent character trait that we've previously seen during his other appearances). 

Reason Two) BANG OR BUST:   In many ways this talk of villainy brings us quite nicely onto what I thought about the concluding part of this story-line. Did I like it? Did I find it plausible? And if not, why not? Well, without giving too much away, on the whole I think a good conclusion largely relies on the subtext and relevance it has on the characters involved. Will any of them be affected by the outcome and change their ways? From my point of view, no, not really! The Joker will still be the Joker and the Riddler will still be the Riddler, although, in Batman’s case, he does change, just a bit, but not in the way I thought he would.

You see, when this adventure first began, it implied that it was going to end so badly that it would somehow affect Bruce’s relationship with Selena. But to be honest with you, no, no it doesn’t. At best the ending of this story implies that Bruce takes himself too seriously and dwells on things that are better left forgotten. Not the victims, of course, or for that matter, how he allowed his opponents to manipulate his emotions and the situation that surrounded them. That said, though, in the same breath Bruce has to realize that sometimes things can happen that are out of his control, and he has to come to terms with this in spite of the way it makes him feel. Seriously, Batman has always been depicted as a fairly stoic character, and now Tom’s version has made him out to be a buff Goth, a gruff Emo, as well as a person who lives too much inside his own brain

Another thing about this conclusion I wasn’t too keen on was the implication that the Riddler was able to predict it. Now I know he’s clever, but he’s not that clever, and I don’t think he would be able to factor in all of the variables to figure out the what, the why, and the where of the situation. He’s never acted this smart before so I don’t see why he should now. 

On a more positive note, however, I did enjoy how the resolution fed into resolving the Jokers inability to laugh, albeit fairly indirectly. To me it was the best part of the entire finale, and very ironic, combined with the fact that…

Reason Three) ART ATTACK:   I first saw Mikel Janin's artwork during his initial run on Justice League Dark. Since then I've grown to know him, both as a person and as a creator, and I've admired the way in which he has dedicated himself to his chosen craft and how much detail he puts into his work.

Take the opening few pages of issue 31 for instance. When the story begins we are presented with a big picture of the Jokers face, staring straight at us, eye to eye, as he tries his best to make himself laugh while torturing one of his stooges. As the story then continues you can't help but notice how his body language and facial expressions start to change, one moment to the next. One minute he could be scowling at someone and the next he could be beaten to a pulp, yet each time you can tell that his sullen state is rebelling against the world around him.

I also appreciated how Mikel manages to compose each of his action scenes, particularly those he illustrated at the start of issue 32. He obviously has a very cinematic eye and favors the Sergio Leone / John Woo style of composition, that being the juxtaposition between a tight close-up of a persons face, as opposed to a vast cinematic landscape that flows off into the distance. His pacing is also very well composed, and this is complimented by the choreography he deploys during the fighting sequences, which are clean, crisp, and entertaining to follow. Lovely stuff.

At the end of the 1966 Sergio Leone classic, "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly", there was a three way battle between the three principal characters. You know, similar to the one presented in issue 32, although faster paced and more colorful. So take it away, Ennio Morricone, as it's time for...

The BBC are famous for producing characters that are bold and brassy and very memorable to follow. None more so than Victor Meldrew, star of the British sitcom, ‘One Foot in the Grave', who surprisingly shares some similar traits featured in these two issues. Firstly, his catchphrase is, ‘I don’t believe it’, which was something I often said while reading these books. Secondly, some of his adventures are pretty far-fetched, which is something I can also say about this story-arc. And thirdly, he’s married to a woman with short hair, just like... uhhhh... next! 

Comparison made!

One of the main reasons Bruce told Selena about his war with the Riddler and the Joker, is because he wanted her to know what he did to resolve it. So, out of the following eight scenarios, can you guess what Bruce did in order to resolve this story? Did he... 

  • Attempt to gas the Riddler.
  • Attempt to ignore the Joker.
  • Attempt to shake his ass at the Riddler. 
  • Attempt to bribe the Joker.
  • Attempt to kill the Riddler.
  • Attempt to kiss the Joker.
  • Attempt to shag the Riddler. 
  • Attempt to pull funny faces at the Joker.
Nuff said.

BATMAN #31 & #32 BATMAN #31 & #32 Reviewed by David Andrews on October 18, 2017 Rating: 5

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