Batman #27
BATMAN #27 tells the origin story of a lesser-known Batman villain named Kite Man. Writer Tom King's addition of intense, emotional drama into Kite Man's life makes this a compelling must-read rather than an obscure story about an obscure villain.
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An Emotional Origin
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Tom King slows down “The War of Jokes and Riddles” to tell the tale of Charles “Chuck” Brown. Chuck, the man who would be Kite Man, starts off as a small-time criminal and unwilling informant for Batman. King writes a brilliant story showing life for ne’er-do-wells caught up in the Riddler and the Joker’s war and Batman’s efforts to stop them both in BATMAN #27. King expertly shows how an already broken man can be beaten down so much that he decides to dress gaudily, strap a kite to his back and call himself “Kite Man.” Artist Clay Mann sharply draws Chuck’s forlorn face, showing, without a doubt, that Chuck is in a deep depression, not knowing what to do with his life. King and Mann create an engaging must-read for Batman fans.

BATMAN #27: Kite Man Year One

BATMAN #27 opens with Chuck sitting at a bar, absent-mindedly making a paper airplane while speaking about aerodynamics. King sets up Chuck’s whole character in these four panels: a hopelessly depressed man obsessed with flight. Throughout the issue, more hints to his future identity present themselves. Chuck’s son, also named Charles, loves flying a kite. There are constant references to “the wind.” Intermixed with these references are multiple examples of life beating up poor Chuck. He’s persistently used, abused, and made a fool.

Batman #27
BATMAN #27 page 2. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

King adeptly manipulates the audience’s emotions in order to make them sympathize with a criminal who flies around in a kite. He crafts Chuck into a truly sympathetic character. Sure, he drinks perhaps a bit too much, works with psychotic criminals, and blows off his son’s birthday party, but the reader feels for him nonetheless. King never shows Chuck feeling any ill-will towards innocent people or even Batman. Chuck stays much too passive for most of the issue to feel anything other than resigned indifference. King gives significance to Chuck’s name, Charles Brown. King makes sure Chuck lives up to his comic-strip counterpart’s name by wallowing in abject depression.

READ: Want more BATMAN? Take a look at our review of the previous issue!

Hell Yeah

In Kite Man’s prior appearances in Tom King’s BATMAN series, he only had two characteristics: his devil-may-care attitude and his use of only two phrases, “Kite Man” and “Hell yeah!” During these appearances, it seemed like Kite Man was just a thrill-seeker having fun flying a kite. Why not? His catchphrase is “Hell yeah,” after all. Well, in BATMAN #27, King reveals the origins of this phrase.

Batman #27
BATMAN #27 page 7. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Chuck’s son, Charlie, uses the phrase often. Chuck constantly tells him to stop using it otherwise he’ll end up in the place he references. We don’t know where Charlie learned this phrase. Did Chuck use it in the past? King never reveals that. We do learn, however, why Chuck ends up saying it as Kite Man. The Riddler commits an absolutely tragic crime, which finally gives Chuck the impetus to become Kite Man. Did Chuck have a mental break before choosing this moniker, and Riddler’s actions just pushed him over the edge? Again, King never makes it clear. He does, however, show Kite Man walking up to the Joker and introducing himself before using his signature catchphrase for the first time.

The Many Faces of Kite Man

In BATMAN #27, Mann adroitly draws Chuck’s facial expressions with so much emotion — or lack thereof when necessary. Chuck’s default facial expression is a neutral, almost bored look. Mann quite accurately portrays what a depressed person looks like with this expression. When people are depressed, they don’t look pitifully sad. They look resigned or indifferent like Chuck does.

Batman #27
BATMAN #27 page 5. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Also, Chuck, like most people with depression, does show emotion at times. He looks appropriately afraid when Batman hangs him upside down and interrogates him. He looks angrily distraught when he learns of the Riddler’s terrible crime. After this happens, Chuck smiles for the first time when he dons the Kite Man costume and utters his first “Hell yeah.” Mann expertly conveys all of Chuck’s emotions and his depression through his detailed facial expressions.

READ: Be sure to take a look at our review of the first chapter of “The War of Jokes and Riddles”!

BATMAN #27 – A Must-Read Interlude

In BATMAN #27, King masterfully adds depth to a formerly laughable character. Not only did he make Kite Man a pitiable figure, but he even added pathos to his seemingly ridiculous catchphrase. Mann’s art adds more emotion to an already emotional story. If you’re already reading BATMAN, don’t skip this issue. It might not move the current “The War of Jokes and Riddles” storyline ahead, but it provides a must-read interlude set within the timeline of the storyline.

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