The Riddler is a fictional character, a comic book character published by DC Comics and an enemy of Batman. Created by Bill Finger and Dick Sprang, the character first appeared in Detective Comics #140 (1948).
- Edward Nygma
- Edward Nashton
- Eddie Naston
The Riddler is obsessed with riddles, puzzles, and word games. He delights in forewarning both Batman and the police of his capers by sending them complex clues. With this self-conscious use of a gimmick, the Riddler's crimes are flamboyant and ostentatious. The character is often depicted as wearing a domino mask either with a green suit and bowler hat, or a green jumpsuit. A black or purple question mark serves as his visual motif. Since the animated series and the film Batman Forever, Riddler often carries a trick "question mark" cane. The Riddler is typically portrayed as a smooth-talking, yet quirky, victim of an intense obsessive compulsion. This was first introduced in the 1965 issue of Batman (titled, "The Remarkable Ruse of The Riddler") in which he tries to refrain from leaving a riddle, but fails. This compulsion has been a recurring theme, as shown in a 1999 issue of Gotham Adventures, in which he tried to commit a crime without leaving a riddle, but fails: "You don't understand. .. I really didn't want to leave you any clues. I really planned never to go back to Arkham Asylum. But I left you a clue anyway. So I... I have to go back there. Because I might need help. I... I might actually be crazy." The Riddler was popularized by Frank Gorshin’s over the top, Emmy-nominated portrayal in the 1960s Batman television series. Jim Carrey played the Riddler in the 1995 film Batman Forever with Gorshin as his inspiration. The character was also featured in Batman: The Animated Series and The Batman, where in the former, he was portrayed as a smooth-talking intellectual who presented genuinely challenging riddles; in the latter, he is a much more sinister character with a Marilyn Manson-inspired design based on the traditional costume. Unlike most of the other prominent members of Batman's rogues gallery, the Riddler is not a psychopathic murderer; a large portion of Riddler's crimes are non-violent in nature. Batman's direct conflicts with the Riddler are typically more cerebral than physical and usually involve defeating him non-violently.
Fictional Character Biography
The Riddler's criminal modus operandi is so deeply ingrained into his personality that he is virtually powerless to stop himself from acting it out (as shown in his third comic book appearance). He cannot simply kill his opponents when he has the upper hand; he has to put them in a deathtrap to see if he can devise a life and death intellectual challenge that the hero cannot solve and escape. However, unlike many of Batman's themed enemies, Riddler's compulsion is quite flexible, allowing him to commit any crime as long as he can describe it in a riddle or puzzle. After a teacher announces that a contest will be held over who can solve a puzzle the fastest, a young Edward Nigma sets his sights on winning this, craving the glory and satisfaction that will come with the victory. He sneaks into the school one night, takes the puzzle out of the teacher's desk, and practices it until he is able to solve it in under a minute. As predicted, he wins the contest and is given a book about riddles as a prize. His cheating rewarded, Edward embraced the mastery of puzzles of all kinds, eventually becoming a carnival employee who excelled at cheating his customers out of their money with his bizarre puzzles and mindgames. He soon finds himself longing for greater challenges and thrills, and dons the guise of the Riddler to challenge Batman, who he believes could possibly be a worthy adversary for him. Some writers have suggested that the Riddler's compulsion stems from parental abuse that he endured as a child. After Edward got high scores on some important tests in school, his father, unable to grasp the fact that his son was brilliant, beat him out of envy. This, in theory, left him with a strong internal desire to tell the truth, and prove his innocence. This desire manifests itself in the form of his obsession with riddles. Other writers have suggested that his madness, as well as his descent into crime in general, have roots in a yearning to rise above the anonymity that he possessed in his youth. In Batman: The Long Halloween, the Riddler appears as a smooth-talking, yet odd, informant. He first appears when Carmine "The Roman" Falcone hires him to figure out who the Holiday Killer is. Despite giving several reasonable theories as to who is behind the killer's identity, the Roman eventually loses his patience. Carmine orders his daughter, Sophia, to force the Riddler to leave. Upon exiting Falcone's office, the Riddler is attacked, but for some reason left alive, by Holiday. The attack was planned to coincide with the holiday of April Fool's, and several items pertaining to it were left at the scene. This may be why the Riddler was left alive, as matters are traditionally reversed on the holiday. He appeared again in the same chapter of the story that Harvey Dent gets disfigured in, when Batman comes to him for information about the attack. He plays a slightly larger role in the story's sequel, Batman: Dark Victory, in which Batman turns to him to figure out the significance of the lost games of hangman that are left at the scenes of the Hangman killer's crimes. He later showed up as a member of Two-Face's jury during the Hangman's trial. In the one-shot "Riddler and the Riddle Factory", the Riddler becomes the host of an underground gameshow that focuses on digging up dirt on celebrities. Many of the famous people that he humiliates end up committing suicide shortly afterwards, suggesting that perhaps the Riddler did more than just inspire their deaths. In the end, his actions turn out to be a front for his attempts to find the hidden treasures of "Scarface" Scarelli, a Gotham City gangster who lived long before Batman's reign of crimefighting. In the three-part Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight storyline "The Primal Riddle", the Riddler engineers what could possibly be called one of his greatest deathtraps: Batman is thrown into a narrow pit that is slowly filling up with water. The walls are electrically wired, and a set of bumpers are the only thing that prevents the water from touching the walls and causing Batman to die by electrocution. The only options Batman appears to have are death by electrocution and death by drowning, but as always, Batman manages to tamper with the traps design and develop a route of escape. Riddler had a working relationship with The Cluemaster, although he initially resented the villain for seemingly copying his modus operandi. In their first encounter, he set his fellow rogue up with a bomb and sent Batman off chasing riddles that would lead to its defusal, as well as away from his real plan: to steal a vast amount of priceless baseball merchandise. The two teamed up on a few occasions afterwards, and were working together on a big scheme shortly before Cluemaster's apparent death in the pages of The Suicide Squad. He seems to be more rational and cautious than his fellow rogues. During the Batman crossover storyline No Man's Land, after Gotham City is ravaged by an earthquake and Arkham Asylum frees its inmates, Riddler elects to flee Gotham rather than stay behind in the lawless chaos that ensues. It is during this period that he makes the poor choice of attacking Black Canary and Green Arrow in Star City, where he is easily defeated. This event helps lay the foundations for Riddler's future confrontations with Green Arrow.
Aftermath of Hush
The fallout from Riddler's failed scheme is played out in Batman: Gotham Knights #50-53. In the story "Pushback," Hush reappears and beats Riddler senseless across a rooftop. Seeking refuge, Riddler goes to the Joker and the Penguin. He offers to tell the Joker who had killed his pregnant wife, Jeannie, if the Clown Prince of Crime would protect him from Hush. The Joker immediately agrees, but eventually Hush, with the help of Prometheus, defeats him, forcing the Riddler to flee for his life. In Detective Comics #797-799, the Riddler faces a great humiliation at the hands of Poison Ivy. In this encounter, the Riddler seeks shelter from Ivy only to be humiliated. Riddler and Ivy then face off in a physical duel, which Ivy wins easily. Riddler is stripped of his deductive powers and left to rot as a member of Gotham City's vast and invisible homeless population. A chance encounter with an ex-NSA codebreaker gives him a positive environment in which to recover his mind. During that stay, he experiences an induced flashback that leads him to realize that his father had abused him many years ago. Envious of his son's academic achievements in school, and unable to understand his brilliance, his father believed he had cheated in his accomplishments, and beat him out of jealousy. Once Riddler discovers this, he also realizes that his compulsion is born out of a strong desire to tell the truth to prove his innocence of deception. Having made this connection, the Riddler spends some of his vast fortune, acquired over many years of crime, to get minor plastic surgery and extensive tattooing, covering most of his torso with his trademark question insignia. He returns and kills the codebreaker- who had pieced together his identity but couldn't act on it- then promptly steals a priceless scroll out from under Batman's nose. Since then, the Riddler has spent most of his time either legally amassing a huge fortune or attacking various heroes in order to prove his newfound power. After orchestrating a brutal series of assaults on Green Arrow, as revenge against his defeat at his hands during the No Man's Land era, Riddler gravely injures and almost kills both Green Arrow and Arsenal. He once again escapes before the Outsiders arrive to save them. Sometime between this incident and the events of Hush, the Riddler was hired to steal artifacts imbued with mystical powers from one of Star City's museums, and then distract the authorities so that the related rituals could be commenced. He sends Team Arrow on a wild goose chase around the City, and then reveals that he has an atomic bomb housed in the stadium where the Star City Rockets play. However, as a side effect of the ritual performed with the artifacts, the city is plunged into complete darkness, and Green Arrow uses this to his advantage, moving in and apprehending the Riddler. Riddler later shows up in Infinite Crisis #1, with a group of villains, which includes the Fisherman and Murmur, attacking the Gotham City Police Department. He is next seen escaping Arkham Asylum during the worldwide supervillain breakout engineered by the Secret Society of Super Villains in Villains United: Infinite Crisis Special #1, which takes place only days after the prior supernatural disaster. Riddler reappears as part of the Society's "Phase Three" attack on Metropolis. He is defeated by the Shining Knight and is struck in the head by the Knight's mace.
Powers and Abilities
The Riddler possesses extreme ingenuity in decoding and formulating puzzles of all kinds. His deductive ability has perfused his new role of private detective, in which he is shown to have investigative skills that rival those of the Dark Knight. The Riddler has no superhuman abilities, but is a highly cunning criminal strategist . He is not especially talented in fisticuffs (although his endurance has grown from having to engage in them over the years), but sometimes employs weaponry that exploits his gimmick, such as exploding jigsaw pieces and question mark shaped pistols. He is shown to be skilled with engineering and technology, confronting Batman and Robin with unique and elaborate deathtraps.