Gotham Throwdown! Riddler vs. Joker (Round 1)

Batman #25 came out in print and digital formats this past Tuesday, but it wasn’t the Caped Crusader that everyone was necessarily clamoring to read about this week. Turns out the greed of two of Batman’s biggest arch rivals have pitted their wits and forces against one another. Ladies and germs, this is a story that a lot of fans have been waiting for for sometime. In this corner, it’s the patron of purple pants! The man of masquerading makeup! The killer clown! It’s…THE JOKER! And over here in this corner, it’s the inquisitive interrogator! The curious questioner! The green gangster! He’s…THE RIDDLER!

I wouldn’t mind seeing Mr. Freeze thrown in the mix, but I’ll try and contain my fanboy greed and make it through this article without mentioning Victor Fries a second time (that’s pronounced ‘freez’ not ‘fryz’).  Writer Tom King pens the script for issue #25 of Batman, subtitled “The War of Riddles & Jokes (part 1)” while artist Mikel Janín is responsible for the exceptional main cover as well as pencils and inks.  King and Janín prove to be a dynamic duo in their own right as this issue wastes no time in getting gruesome in a hurry.

There is a narrative that is interlaced throughout the issue amidst the dialogue of the characters, both main and supporting.  While I found it curious at first who could be providing these thoughts from afar, it is revealed eventually by the time the book ends (sorry, not telling).  Nevertheless, I found it a little distracting at times but I think a second read (which this is totally worth) would allow things to gel a bit more and make more sense…otherwise it just feels like a mysterious third party reflecting throughout the book which gets a little monotonous.

Ultimately, this issue sets the stage for the aforementioned ‘Riddles & Jokes’ story arc.  Make no mistake, this is no run-of-the-mill fisticuffs between Batman and his opponents.  Batman #25 reveals an impending doom upon Gotham that pits the Riddler against the Joker while the Dark Knight takes a backseat.  The issue is violent and immersive while giving readers a glimpse into the Riddler and Joker’s psyches, though the mere sampling of what runs through their minds is upending enough without getting their full-blown thought processes.  There is no question I am onboard for issue #26 to see where this villainous throw-down goes.  It’s psychotically smart and visually gripping, a combination so befitting for a bloody tale to be told in Bruce Wayne’s hometown.

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