12 DAYS OF THE BATMAN! DAY 9: THE RIDDLER

Riddler 006

Edward Nashton was an unscrupulous carny who rigged games of chance to always have the upper hand.  Smarter than everyone around him, he mastered every puzzle and brain teaser Soon he became Edward Nygma- E.Nygma- and turned to crime to enrich himself as he outsmarted the police. Which, of course, lead him to the one puzzle he couldn’t solve- the Batman.

People debate whether Batman’s presence truly prevents crime or encourages bizarre criminals to commit more elaborate and outlandish crimes. In fact most of Batman’s rogue’s gallery would exist whether or not he was there to oppose them. The Riddler may be the major exception: while he might still commit crimes if Batman wasn’t there to challenge him, he could just as easily make a fortune in legitimate enterprise.

The Riddler first appeared in 1948’s DETECTIVE COMICS #140, in a story written by Bill Finger and drawn by Dick Sprang, and wasn’t a particularly popular or memorable character until the first episode of 1966 BATMAN TV show with actor/comedian Frank Gorshin in the role. Offscreen, Gorshin had an insight into the character I liked, seeing the Riddler as a genius who did whatever he wanted for kicks:  he’d play piano at a concert level; he’d perform Shakespeare in the park; he’d fight the Batman. I didn’t necessarily like Gorshin’s hysterical line readings, but I liked his thoughts on who the Riddler was.

My take on the Riddler is fairly traditional, although I incorporated the receding hairline introduced by artist Alex Ross. Suave and self-satisfied, the Riddler is one of the few criminals who rivals  Batman’s vast intellect.

Tomorrow a mother of an edition of installment of 12 Days of the Batman.

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