What makes the Riddler tick? This issue does a fantastic job at seeing what Riddler does when the heroes are gone. He plays. Plain and simple. Unlike the other crazies in Batman’s arsenal of rogues, Riddler is intelligent and is the man with the plan. His plan? Wait for Batman to get back. While not actually involved with this issue, Scott Snyder clearly has a plan for the master of puzzles, and I like it.
Ray Fawkes however is the real hero of the story. He gets the smarmy, slightly flamboyant charm of the Riddler down instantly and makes an extremely compelling tale of a villain who’s only out there to play the game. And why play when your greatest opponent is gone? This playful and fun answer to a world without heroes doesn’t mean he isn’t a threat though, as he wrecks shop and takes some revenge all in the course of getting up to the roof of the Wayne Enterprises building. But before I get ahead of myself, I’ll point out the highlights.
1. The look. For ages I was concerned that the Riddler would be the tattooed, mohawk wearing clown that appeared in Batman #1, but he is clean cut and suave as ever.
2. Everyone calls him crazy. And this issue proves he’s not. He’s just too smart for his own good.
3. He’s in it for the game, not senseless carnage like his cohorts.
Rating before reading: 8
Rating after reading: 9
This book nails the character. I had expected my inner fan boy to love the issues, but I never expected Ray Fawkes to so thoroughly grasp the character. This issue is hilarious, charming, and clever. The creative use of the Riddles narrated at the beginning translated into the 5 ways Riddler got to the top of the building. All of which are both awe inspiring and true to form for the Riddler. What’s most shocking though is the ending of the issue, where Riddler decides to not play for any team and instead sit on the roof and play solitaire until a better game comes along. That better game is Batman. The one thing that stops this from being the best Riddler story ever is the art. While mostly fine, there were quite a few moments where Jeremy Haun’s proportions were off distorting the character and taking away from the moment, rather than enhancing it. Still, if you want a definition of the Riddler, this is it. And if you have ever disliked the character, I think it is because you misunderstood what he stood for.
Until the next time, Riddle me this:
My servants cannot leave me, in all they number five. They bring me everything I want, and I keep them alive. What am I?