Batman #30 serves as another transitional chapter of “The War of Jokes and Riddles,” with perennial sad sack Kite Man again finding himself caught in the middle of the citywide conflict. But as solid as Kite Man’s origin story was in Batman #27, this issue truly captures the tragic, goofy appeal of this Z-grade villain.
Kite Man is a joke. That’s really the running theme of this issue. Writer Tom King and artist Clay Mann follow poor Chuck Brown as he teams up with one villain after another, each time ending in painful disaster and leaving Chuck even worse off than he started. The punchline is always the same, and Kite Man is determined to keep laughing or die trying. Over the course of these misadventures, King paints Kite Man as a pathetic yet compelling figure. He’s not clever or bloodthirsty or crazy enough to hack it as a Gotham City supervillain. Yet he keeps picking himself off and trying again, if for no other reason than he’d rather keep laughing at himself rather than face the misery his life has become. King’s script lends extra pathos to Kite Man’s sad plight by juxtaposing the present with a series of narrative captions relaying a conversation between Chuck and his late son. It takes skill to make readers care this much about such a dumb character, but King makes it seem easy.