The Riddler is one of Batman’s most recognizable characters. Riddler made his debut during the Golden Age of superheroes, eventually becoming part of the Caped Crusader’s rogues’ gallery and cementing his place in the pantheon of great DC supervillains.
Jim Carrey’s now-iconic performance in 1995’s Batman Forever did Riddler a massive service. However, the character has remained largely absent from the many big-screen adaptations of the Dark Knight, at least until 2022’s The Batman. And even though he enjoys considerable mainstream recognition, there are plenty of things about Riddler that remain known by only the most loyal comic book fans.
He Debuted During The Golden Age
Like many of Batman’s most famous villains, Riddler made his debut during the Golden Age of comic books. He first appeared in October 1948 on the pages of Detective Comics #140. Born Edward Nigma, Riddler began his criminal career as a child after a teacher announced a jigsaw puzzle contest, and he cheated to win.
Riddler commits several elaborate crimes during his debut, including flooding a bank and stealing a giant corn statue. He always leaves riddles to point out the following scheme, and while Batman is unable to solve the first two, he prevents the third one. Riddler seemingly dies at the end of the storyline, although Batman doubts it.
He’s Batman’s Most Rational Rogue
Batman has a multitude of cool villains in the comics. From Joker to Two-Face, these antagonists rank as some of the most memorable and scariest in American comic books.
One thing that characterizes this lot is the madness they all seemingly share. However, Riddler is one of the few exceptions. Indeed, he often shows rationality that none of the others have. For example, during the now-iconic No Man’s Land storyline, Riddler is the one villain who chooses to escape Gotham City, correctly anticipating the lawlessness that will take over. Riddler might be obsessive, but he doesn’t share the same desire for chaos that drives his fellow rogues.
He Goes By Several Names
Riddler’s name and backstory change depending on the writer. His most well-known identity is Edward Nigma, sometimes spelled “Nygma.” At times, his full name seems to be Edward E. Nigma, although some simply refer to him as E. Nigma.
Some writers argue that Nigma is a false identity and give Riddler the name Edward Nashton. In these stories, Edward legally changes his last name to Nigma, thus becoming a real e-nigma. Batman Forever and the tv show Gotham give Edward the Nygma identity, while The Batman goes for the Nashton surname.
He Suffered Abuse As A Kid
Riddler had a troubled childhood. He suffered severe physical and emotional abuse at his father’s hands, steering from his father’s insecurity and envy of his son’s superior intellect. After his father accused him of cheating to win, Riddler developed a compulsive need to tell the truth, which eventually came to manifest itself in the form of riddles.
In several stories, writers suggest that Riddler’s crime spree began out of his desire to escape the anonymity he suffered as a child. He also has a need to prove his superiority to others and does so by posing riddles that only he can solve. Thus, Batman is Riddler’s ultimate nemesis; being the best detective in the world, the Bat has no problem solving the puzzles, justifying Riddler’s obsession with beating him.
He Worked As a Carnival Charlatan
Many comic book characters have deep ties to carnival life. Comic book fans know Dick Grayson worked at Haly’s circus, and Hawkeye often clashes with the infamous Cirque du Nuit.
Riddler also experimented with this life when he opened a booth that involved a sinister puzzle. The winner supposedly received a large sum of money, while the loser had to pay instead. Riddler manipulated the act, winning every time and earning considerable sums of money. Eventually, he became dissatisfied with his earnings and decided to use his intellect for crimes.
Riddler And Batman Solved Crimes Together
Riddler survived his first encounter with Batman and resumed his crime spree. However, it wasn’t long before the Caped Crusader caught him, sending him to prison. The villain got out on parole and decided to claim the Dark Knight’s attention by helping him solve crimes.
Riddler and Batman worked together for a while but their partnership didn’t last because Riddler began toying with the Bat and Robin by making them believe he was back to his criminal ways. However, it always turned out that he had either bought or inherited the valuables Batman accused him of stealing. Batman eventually beat Riddler again, sending him back to prison.
He Once Used A Lazarus Pit
Many fans consider Hush one of the best Batman comic book arcs in recent years. Indeed, the storyline features cameos from plenty of other rogues and follows a compelling narrative that places it among the most unforgettable Dark Knight works of the new millennium.
Riddler is one of Hush‘s central antagonists. During the storyline, he uses one of R’as al Ghul’s Lazarus Pits to cure his cancer. The Pit’s effects send him into a psychotic break during which he somehow deduces Batman’s identity and Jason Todd’s tenure as Robin. Hush cemented the relationship between Riddler and Batman as one of the most intriguing in DC comics while confirming him as an A-list villain. Riddler’s use of the Lazarus Pit without R’as’ consent would become a significant threat for the character in future storylines, preventing him from revealing Batman’s secret to the world.
Hush & Poison Ivy Have Severely Beat Him
In the aftermath of Hush, Riddler became a prime target for multiple parties. Hush himself found and beat him to near-death, prompting Riddler to seek Joker’s protection. The Clown Prince of Crime is eventually defeated by the combined efforts of Hush and Prometheus, making Riddler a fugitive once more.
During the Low storyline, Riddler seeks Poison Ivy’s protection. However, she cruelly turns him away, humiliating him in the process. Angered, Riddler tries to take her in hand-to-hand combat, but she easily beats him, further increasing his humiliation.
He Entered A Coma After Fighting The Shining Knight
After spending some time without a home, Riddler eventually recovers his deductive skills and returns to villainy during the Infinite Crisis event. He escapes Arkham Asylum along with several other villains before joining the Society’s attack on Metropolis. The Shining Knight easily defeated him by striking him on the head with his mace during the battle.
Riddler spends the following year in a coma. He wakes up, suffering from severe memory loss and without his compulsion for riddles. However, he retains his intellect and massive ego, although he finally seems free of his criminal tendencies and even goes straight, becoming a private investigator.
The War Of Jokes And Riddles
DC Rebirth re-introduces Riddler during the I Am Bane storyline before playing a leading role in The War of Jokes and Riddles. After discovering that Joker lost his sense of humor, Riddler orchestrates a war between them to help him recover it.
Several villains join the conflict, including Two-Face, Poison Ivy, Clayface, and Scarecrow. Batman and Riddler ally to stop Joker’s gang. At the end of the conflict, Batman briefly loses control and considers killing Riddler because of the damage he caused. However, Joker stops him at the last minute, cementing his rivalry with Batman after recovering his sense of humor.
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