In Review: Batman #30

Nice, but so what?

The covers: Mikel Janín has created another outstanding cover for this series, with the Riddler and his allies surrounding the Dark Knight. Two-Face goes down from a right punch, as Clayface, the Scarecrow, Deathstroke, Poison Ivy, Killer Croc, and the Riddler rush forward, with the leader holding a knife. The characters look fantastic and the background is an outstanding light green question mark pattern on white. I love this. The Variant cover is so odd looking, I had to pick it up. Crafted by Tim Sale and Brennan Wagner, a gigantic Joker holds his hands before him to catch Batman or Kite Man should they fall. The tiny characters look cool, but the Joker is so bizarre I couldn’t not look at him. The coloring also adds to the strangeness, with the Clown Prince of Crime in lime and the city behind him in violet. This teeth and eyes are yellow. I wouldn’t call this an incredible cover, yet there’s something about it that fascinates me. Overall grades: Regular A+ and Variant B

The story: This interlude to “The War of Jokes & Riddles” is the second part of “The Ballad of Kite Man” by Tom King. Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee are approached by Kite Man at the beginning of this tale to do a recon mission into Riddler territory under orders from the Joker. Things don’t go as planned, with Batman intercepting the trio. As a member of Team Riddler, the hero takes them down, pinning Kite Man to a wall with a warning underneath: WHO’S AFRAID OF THE BIG BLACK BAT?? A few hours later, Kite Man sits before the Joker in the center of circus ring. He tells the Joker it was Batman, who was wearing a green armband to signify he’s fighting for the opposing team of criminals. When he tells the madman that Dee and Dum were taken and he doesn’t know where. The Joker raises a chair and begins to beat the man unconscious in rage. The unconscious villain hears his child’s voice in his head for the second time this issue, the first occurring while he was pinned to the wall. Both sequences ends with him waking up as his child asks him if he’s a joke. The remainder of the issue follows the same pattern: a new villain teams with Kite Man, he’s beaten and the other taken, with him replaying a conversation with his child. After the third time of this mental replay, I skimmed those pages. Instead, I completely read the pages that featured the more famous villains paired with the third-string villain. Unfortunately, those scenes didn’t last long enough. The final page finally had some payoff for the repetitious story, but it wasn’t enough. If anything, I expect Kite Man to commit suicide by the end of this War-That’s-Never-Shown. Yes, this story greatly expands Kite Man’s character, but he remains a third-string character that’s stealing focus from other, better villains. Nice, but so what? Overall grade: C-

The art: The visuals by Clay Mann on pencils and Seth Mann on inks are good, reminding me of Jerry Bingham’s Bat-work. The first page introduces Kite Man with the Lewis Carroll characters who look fantastic. The background is also well done, with the premises being overseen by characters that are similar to those from a Tim Burton film. The second page is a super splash page, showing Batman using an upper cut to knock Kite Man back. His arm band is instantly noticeable, much more so than the figure in the background whose posterior I did not need to see more of. The final panel on 3 is excellent with the tagging on the wall excellent. The violence inflicted by the Joker is shown in a series of close-ups of characters’ hands, making it seem horrific. This is a fantastic case of what is not shown in a panel allowing the reader to create something more terrible in his or her mind. Kite Man’s exit from the tent is slow, given his pain, and was an interesting thing to see, as this scene is usually missing from most super hero comics. The hysterics of a villain on 5 are fantastic, creating a desire for me to see more of this character in other books. The villain that appears on 11 is an absolute fright, looking like a deformed mess. Page 12 consists of five horizontal panels that mirror the action on 5, albeit from a different point of view, but instilling the same effect in the reader. An iconic character gets a great full-paged splash on 15, with the background behind this individual outstanding. That said, had the image been pulled in closer to the character, the weight of his words would have been stronger, because his face would be more clearly seen. 16 and 17 is a double-paged spread that’s full of details and is incredibly creepy. Loved the character in the lower right. Page 19 shows a character’s breakdown, with 20 containing several panels where the visuals are the perfect compliment to the dialogue. I especially like the slight smile shown in panel five. Overall grade: A-

The colors: Reality plays heavily into the book’s colors, done by Jordie Bellaire. As with previous issues, the colors are very drab. Nothing is bright in this book. The first page is faded colors, which could be so to mirror reality or how the life has gone out of the Joker’s fighters. Only one of the Tweedles’ shoes is a bright red. Even the sound effect on Page 2 is an off-yellow. The armband on Batman is noticeably green, but it’s a very faded emerald. The yellow tagging under Kite Man on 3 stands out, as does the narration running through his head that’s shown in a bright green and orange. Red is used for the curtains in the circus, which dominate the final two panels on the fourth page, emphasizing the action that’s just occurring just off panel. The explosion on 7 is terrific, but is so blanketed in yellow as to make the artwork disappear in the blast. Kite Man’s visor is good in orange, but even that doesn’t pop visually. The coloring makes the visuals seem incredibly real, but it’s not as fun as other books. Overall grade: B

The letters: Dialogue, the story’s title, the book’s credits, sounds, moans, Joker’s unique dialogue font, dialogue, yells, and screams are created by Clayton Cowles. The sounds of the book really stand out, beginning with the punch on Page 2; I really like the like the sound at the end of 4. The unique font used for the Joker’s speech is a good way to have him stand apart from other characters, having a thin, shaky look to mirror his twisted nature. Whenever Kite Man replayed a conversation from his past, it’s differentiated from other speech with the shape of the balloons, rather than having a unique font. It should have been a different font as it’s a different form of communication, but this is a minor nick. A decent job. Overall grade: A-

The final line: Readable, but not memorable. Definitely an interlude in the larger tale of war between Joker and Riddler. The visuals are fine, but the story leaves one shrugging their shoulders in the necessity of such a tale. Overall grade: B-

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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