Batman #30 marks another aside in the overarching plot of The War of Jokes and Riddles, and again, this sidebar focuses on the character Kite Man. Now, be aware, there are spoilers in this review, so if you've not read it yet, come back later, or if you don't mind being spoiled, then read on.
A Z-List supervillain from Batman's past that Tom King has taken it on himself to repeatedly include in his Batman run, in what at first seemed to be a ridiculous joke. After all, the concept of this villain is hilariously dumb! He's a dude who wears a giant kite! And keeps on just saying his own name and "Hell yeah!"
That's funny, right?
Well, the last aside showed us the tragic origin of Kite Man, and it showed us a whole new level to the character, bringing readers that awkward moment where all of a sudden they empathised with the joke. He wasn't just funny or ridiculous, he was also terribly sad. It was weirdly heartbreaking.
In Batman #30, Kite Man is still running with the Joker — but the big shocker twist is that now Batman has taken a side: Riddler's. And remember, Riddler murdered Kite Man's son.
Throughout the issue, we see Kite Man along with various members of the Joker's crew. They get taken down by the joint might of the Riddler and Batman until ultimately, Kite Man is the last man standing. Joker's last enforcer.
All through, the story is punctuated by a narration; a remembered exchange between Kite Man and his deceased son, who's asking him if his father is a joke. As Kite Man, in his memory, deals with this awkward, and presumably heartbreaking exchange with his son, there is an element of finding one's acceptance with their lot in life.
It's acceptance, but it's also defeat. And that is what yet again makes this tale truly heartbreaking.
We can tell that Batman feels the same. In one of his beatdowns on Kite Man, he is begging him to stay down so it would all be over. We see that Batman gets the joke, too, and has realised it's as tragic as it is funny.
And when you can't laugh anymore, all there is left is to cry, especially in a powerful scene beautifully realised by art team Clay Mann, Seth Mann, and Jordie Bellaire.
Kite Man has become an unexpected star of this Batman run, as we see things from the criminals' side for a change. Kite Man isn't criminally insane; he's not a monster. He's an immensely sad figure, mired in his own depression and inability to see his way out of the hole his life has become. And because he keeps doing what he does, Batman has to beat on him, as much as he'd rather not to.
Because Batman pities him. And we pity him. His pain is something we understand, and we can realise "Oh my god, I'm Kite Man!" And isn't that funny?