Tom King Talks about the Rogues and “The War of Jokes and Riddles”

by Adam Poncharoen​sub
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Since the ending of the New 52 and therefore the beloved run of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman, Tom King has been at the reins of the flagship, where he is knee-deep in the newest arc entitled, “The War of Jokes and Riddles.” (Parts 1 and 2 of have been reviewed by my colleague Eric Lee)

Recently, King sat down with The Washington Post, where he discussed the current arc and his hopes, while also discussing his take on the Rogues.

Being that this arc pits two of Batman’s most infamous Rogues, King discusses how he views them, mostly viewing them as darker reflections of the Caped Crusader:

“The Joker is [Batman’s] insanity. The little part of him that broke when his parents died and he couldn’t put back together. That’s all the Joker is. It’s Batman without love. The Riddler is the opposite of that. It’s the detective in him. That utterly logical, has to get things done, has to solve this problem [guy]. It’s Batman without the humanity.”

Of the Riddler, King is intent on giving the Riddler his time to shine. Invoking the moment that the Joker became a monumental villain following the release of The Killing Joke and Tim Burton’s Batman, King says “We’re trying to elevate Riddler the way that movie elevated the Joker. Sort of be a villain worthy of that much attention.” To do so, he enlists the help of Mikel Janin as the artist to bulk up the Riddler to make him physically more imposing against the Joker.

An Emotional Purging

“The War of Jokes and Riddles” takes place in the past and is told to Selina Kyle following Bruce’s proposal. Of the current arc, King explains Bruce’s motivation to tell the tale:

“Batman has gone through a lot of emotional things. He’s come to the point where he proposed to Catwoman, he’s trying to find a piece of happiness in his life. What [Batman] says is before you marry me, I have to confess my darkest moment, because you can’t marry me until you know the worst of me.”

It seems that King wants Bruce to go through an emotional purging before he can spend the rest of his life with someone he loves. The guilt he feels seems to stem from the number of casualties Batman failed to prevent in a war that was indirectly caused by him.

Thus far, this arc is seemingly turning out to be a very memorable one in King’s run. It provides a deeper look into Bruce’s current psyche by examining a very dark moment in his past as a crimefighter while still providing a ton fan service to excite any Batfan.

Points to one character

Despite the emphasis on two of Batman’s most famous Rogues, it’s still an important point for King to emphasize how this is very much a Batman story. He expresses his admiration for this universe, about how no matter the subject of the examination, it still falls on one character. He says, “When you explore Gotham, when you explore the villains, all of them point to this one character. This iconic American symbol for how we deal with pain and loss and how we move forward after it.

Part 3 of “The War of Jokes and Riddles” will hit shelves on July 19th.

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