Written by: Tom King
Art by: Clay Mann
Batman #30 is the second part of The War of Jokes and Riddles' interlude, The Ballad of Kite Man. Kite Man is under the employ of the Joker, but now that Batman has sided with the Riddler, Joker's army is steadily decreasing. This issue follows Kite Man as he goes on mission after mission with Joker's allies. From Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum to Dr. Freeze, each mission with Batman taking them out, but leaving Kite Man to return to the Joker.
When I read the first part of The Ballad of Kite Man, I was surprised how much I enjoyed an issue of Batman that had very little Batman in it. The second part has even less Batman, but I enjoyed it even more than the first! Tom King has a talent like no other of making C-list and D-list characters interesting and emotional beyond what most readers could ever expect. He presents Kite Man as so many other stories before have presented him: as a joke. King goes the extra mile by exploring how self-aware Kite Man is. How he knows he's a joke but he won't just quit because everyone laughs at him. It's truly a remarkable story and a great interlude that stays relevant to the overall story.
Clay Mann does a great job at finding the right tone with his art. There's the grittiness that Mann is so good at, but there's also emotion and story in his panels. This is really a painful story about Kite Man, and that pain is felt through Mann's work.
The War of Jokes and Riddles may not be what we all thought it was going to be, but these interludes seem to capture the heart of the whole story by allowing King's masterful character work to shine.
9 / 10
Batman #30 is a shining example of Tom King's unique ability to give an emotional and compelling story to a character no one seems to care about.