The last year and a half have elevated Kite Man, a D-List relic of a comics age gone by, from campy leftover to memetic contemporary gag, as Batman writer Tom King has woven him into the fabric of Gotham City. With a repeating motif of inevitable crime failure and a mantra of “Hell yeah” and his own name, Charles Brown (seriously!) has become a spot of levity in the otherwise relatively dour landscape of the Dark Knight.
Recently, however, fans have been treated to a different side of their new favorite punching bag. The “War of Jokes and Riddles” arc has been intercut with a two-part origin story titled “The Ballad of Kite Man,” in which the villain’s quirks -- from his affinity for, well, kites, to his excitable battle cry -- are looked at with a no-holds-barred seriousness. And as it turns out, Gotham’s resident recurring gag might just have more to say about the city and the history of Batman than anyone would have expected.
“I think some people don’t think [The Ballad of Kite Man] plays into the 'War of Jokes And Riddles,' but that’s totally false," artist Clay Mann told CBR of the plan behind Charles Brown’s surprising reimagining. "The first part may not have been obvious, but I would definitely say this [second part] definitely is. On the last page, you really see how Kite Man is wrapped up in the whole thing.”
He went on to tease that he may or may not be working on a project involving one of his dream DC characters. Asked if he had any hopes for his continued time as a DC exclusive artist, he responded by saying, “I can’t say too much, because it might actually happen.”
As for his art in those giant, villain-packed crowd scenes and splash pages that “The War of Jokes and Riddles” has so frequently utilized, Mann confessed that he wasn’t involved in the selection process of those ensemble beats. He does, however, always try to work one very specific Easter egg into all of his work.
“I try to put Tom Selleck in everything I do,” Mann said. “If I have to fill up space or something, I put him in.” Why Selleck? Well, Mann explained, he just loves Magnum P.I., which is as good a reason as any.
Batman #30 apparently has one of Mann’s secret Sellecks hidden somewhere in the start of the issue, so keep an eye out for a familiar mustache and maybe some aviator shades lurking in the background. Or, if you’re really feeling up for a challenge, take a look back at Mann’s other recent work, like Poison Ivy: The Cycle of Life and Death for a strangely non-sequitur game of “Where’s Waldo?”
Batman #30, featuring the second half of "The Ballad of Kite Man" by Tom King and Clay Mann, is on sale now.