By Tom King, Mikel Janin, June Chung, and Clayton Cowles
DC Rebirth has been a humungous success as many stale books got a much needed face lift and a new direction. While the New 52 had some excellent books, the Snyder and Capullo run on Batman will usually be what fans would agree is the greatest success out of the line. This is brought up because following a series like that is extremely difficult. There was a bar that was set extremely high, and one that was not going to be easily met. What did DC do with that? Brought in Tom King, who simply shattered expectations. This run on Batman has been just as enjoyable as Snyder’s, and we’re in the thick of “The War of Jokes and Riddles.” Where this story goes next is always a surprise, and King has kept us guessing the entire way.
Tom King does a lot of things right in this issue. His portrayal of the Joker has been good through this arc. It’s nice to see that what happens when the Clown Prince is unable to laugh, it clearly drives him mad. On the flip side of the coin, King has portrayed the Riddler as someone who thinks he’s too smart for the Joker’s games. To see these two go at it is great, and it’s odd that we haven’t seen it sooner. King brings a grand scale to this issue; seeing all Batman’s villains fighting one another and not him is exactly as fun as you’d hope. The appearance of Kite Man has been an interesting one for this arc. This issue we get to see more of why he’s on the team, which is a vital role in the issue. King also shows us why Batman has been around for so long; he has gadgets and money, but it’s hard to argue that his super-power isn’t his brain at this point. This issue ends with a good cliffhanger that should get readers excited for a resolution to this wonderful arc.
The pencils this issue are handled by Mikel Janin with colors by June Chung and letters from Clayton Cowles. It’s hard to say anything negative about Janin’s pencils. The first page, a close up of an angry Joker, sets the tone for the entire issue. Janin draws it wonderfully, and even though it’s creepy and sadistic, we’re still drawn to the image. It’s also great seeing Janin draw Catwoman in an older costume. There should be some nostalgia setting in as you look at these panels of Selina. The colors by June Chung are vital to the pencils laid down by Janin; they give his work an eerie feel on the joker, which makes him even creepier. The flip side to this is that Chung also gives us a gorgeous blue sky in panels where Kite Man is trying to convince Killer Croc to put on his kite. The pencils and colors in this issue are top-notch and only add to the greatness of the book.
Batman #31 continues to set the high bar for DC. The work that Tom King is doing is masterful and a reason why Batman is everybody’s favorite hero. The pencils and colors are a key part of why this issue is successful too. Janin and Chung draw wonderfully and use the perfect color palette for this book.