Batman #28, written by Tom King and drawn by Mikel Janin and June Chung, sees the continuation of the epic War of Jokes & Riddles arc. The story takes place early on in Batman’s career and it features a brutal gang war between The Riddler and Joker. Here are my thoughts on what turns out to be another powerful issue.
The story is told as a flashback by Batman to Catwoman and it details his emotions over one of the toughest fights of his career. It opens with Commissioner Gordon choosing to meet the Riddler and Joker separately so they can deliver a message to Batman.
Both criminals recruit new soldiers into their war, which leads to a violent battle between Deathstroke and Deadshot. Evenly matched, the two mercenaries go on a five-day rampage, with innocent lives caught in the crossfire. Batman gives chase and the battle sequence between all three of them makes for some amazing artwork.
During the fight, Batman’s rage gets the better of him and he steps over the line. It’s a great scene because it highlights that Bruce is still inexperienced and prone to making mistakes. It’s rare to see him let his emotions get the better of him in a fight, reminding the reader that even Batman had to start somewhere.
King’s writing is strong, presenting Batman as more of an observer than a participant in the story. This works with the flashback style, as Bruce is recalling a memory. King’s characterization of Gordon, Joker and Riddler are also impressive.
Chung and Janin’s art has an action-packed feeling that matches the high stakes of the issue. The panels with Deathstroke and Deadshot fighting each other are some of the most vivid I’ve seen recently. There’s one page that features them firing a bullet at the same time. The way the bullets are rendered looks like something out of a crime film.
Batman #28 shows off the ingenuity of the Riddler and Joker, while also providing a good jumping on point for new readers.