The War of Jokes and Riddles
Batman #25 came out yesterday and officially kicked off the “War of Jokes and Riddles.” This battle features the Joker and the Riddler going head to head in a story from Batman’s early years of crime-fighting. The story is starting out great (as we discussed in our review) and is producing quite a buzz throughout the comic book fandom.
There are 3 art easter eggs in Batman 25 today. Seen reference to two of the three on the twitter. So far. You all are good…
— Tom King (@TomKingTK) June 21, 2017
After its release, some mystery behind the story was introduced when writer Tom King tweeted out that he and artist Mikel Janín inserted “3 art easter eggs” in this issue of Batman. Today, we are taking a detailed look at these three “easter eggs” and attempting to decode what they may mean for the “War of Jokes and Riddles.”
Mild spoilers for Batman #25 ahead
1st Ever Appearance of the Joker
In April of 1940, artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger introduced a character who would go on to become one of the greatest villains of all time. This character was the Joker. Stylized as the “Clown Prince of Crime,” the Joker was a criminal mastermind who’s schemes would continuously be stopped by the Batman.
In this page from Batman #1, the Joker is seen for the first time ever. A man has just been killed and we, as readers, are being shown the face of the murderer. The latest issue of Batman pays homage to this moment in a splash page of the Joker being confronted by the Riddler.
1st Ever Appearance of the Riddler
In October of 1948, writer Bill Finger and artist Dick Sprang introduced a brand new character to the world of DC Comics. This character, Edward Nigma, was so obsessed with puzzles that he started to perpetrate acts of crime under the guise of “The Riddler.”
In this page from Detective Comics #140, Edward Nigma first comes up with the idea of committing crimes as the Riddler. The latest issue of Batman pays homage to this moment in the page just opposite the one with the Joker, shown above.
“I Shall Become a Bat”
In Batman: Year One, fans were first introduced to Frank Miller’s modern revision of Batman’s origin. It took Batman’s initial origin, a two page story from Detective Comics #33, and revamped it for a new continuity. Regarded as an instant classic, Year One is still seen by many to be the golden standard for Batman origin stories.
In this page from Batman #404, “Batman-Year One, Chapter One,” a bat crashes through the window of Wayne Manor. Upon witnessing this, Bruce Wayne gets the idea to become more than a random vigilante, he gets the idea to become Batman. The latest issue of Batman pays homage to this moment by depicting Batman crashing through a window in nearly the exact same way that he saw a bat do years beforehand.
What does this mean?
These are three very specific references to very meaningful moments in the history of Batman. They all harken back to the “birth” of the three players in this “War of Jokes and Riddles.” The concept of “Batman” was created when that bat flew through the window and “The Riddler” was just a man before deciding, in this moment, to truly begin committing crimes. Even Joker is “born” here, since his lack of an official origin prevents him from having a moment akin to the other two.
If this was all Tom King’s intention, then it is clear that there is a theme of origins running through this work. With a focus placed on taking up the mantle of a hero or villain, it could be possible that King will be digging into the psychological change that these characters undergo when “becoming” their super-identity. This goes along with the theory that every Batman character, even Batman, is crazy in their own way. It may be that this arc will end up looking at the psychology behind this, especially since Bruce feels this is a story he must tell Selina before their wedding.
Or it could be possible that we are simply looking far too deep into these fun little references. Either way, things like these are great to see and show that Tom King truly knows and understands the characters he is writing, something which will surly lead to a better and more authentic story for all of us.