I'm not sure at what point people started considering the Riddler to be a joke. It couldn't have been the TV show, since Gorshin's Riddler was rightly celebrated, and I'd argue that he was the only villain there to have touches of genuine menace. Did that just never
translate over into comics?
Maybe it's just because I was raised on the Riddler of Gorshin, B:TAS, and his appearances written by Chuck Dixon, but I never thought Eddie was a joke character. I loved the Riddler's flair and penache, combined with his self-assured knowledge that he was the smartest guy in the room. I loved the Riddler to be genuinely
brilliant, which may explain why there were so few good Riddler stories: he was just too damn smart to write.
Think about it: Lex Luthor's brilliance can be explained away with mad science or manipulative plots, but to be smart like the Riddler, you need to actually
possess the kind of mind that could create and disassemble complex games of intellect. Furthermore, writers have to incorporate those games into actual stories. No wonder most writers just opted to make the Riddler a pathetic character, relying on cheesy puns and hampered by an obvious handicap that always got him caught by Batman.
That's the Riddler we see in this strip. I was disappointed at first, but by the end, I have to admit a great deal of affection for this loser version of Eddie Nigma. This is the Riddler if he were a villain on The Venture Bros
, a failure criminal who finally (thinks) he strikes it big, only to get in wayyyyyy over his head.
Squint your eyes to read this preview for some idea of what I mean:( The Deadly Riddle, behind the cut! )
Finally, I'd intended to post this yesterday, so I could end by announcing that yesterday was the 62nd birthday of writer William Messner-Loebs! But then the house's internet went out just as I was wrapping up this post. So, happy belated birthday, William Messner-Loebs!
Coming up next: the grand finale.