thehefner: (Default)
thehefner ([personal profile] thehefner) wrote in [community profile] scans_daily2011-02-20 09:24 am

The Batman Newspaper Comic Strip (1990), Part 7: The Most Pathetic Riddler Ever?

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:

NOTE: Scans taken from Comics Revue magazine, #59-61

Those three panels are the point that won me over with loser!Eddie here.

These next few strips really make me wonder yet again if there'd ever be a way to edit these strips into a less disjointed and repetitive whole narrative. Probably not. I fear the biggest reason people wouldn't read this stuff is annoyance at the repeated information.

Thank god this isn't the Riddler of the comics or TAS. No way that character would be able to stifle his curiosity and ignore the Box o' Doom.


Hey, he's not entirely a pushover! That was so great, let's see it again!

No explanation whatsoever is given for Lt. Muni's complete change in appearance, including the fact that she's now wearing what appears to be an official police miniskirt. But most importantly, she's missing her scar! WTF? I miss Muni as she was in the Two-Face storyline. That's a character I'd love to see get a modern update.

A writing staff? The Riddler's hired a writing staff to come up with riddles for him? Somewhere, on Earth-1, Edward Nigma/Nashton feels suddenly dirty and doesn't know why.

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.
randyripoff: (Default)

[personal profile] randyripoff 2011-02-20 03:03 pm (UTC)(link)
Ouch...they couldn't have used Cluemaster for this?
icon_uk: (Default)

[personal profile] icon_uk 2011-02-20 05:51 pm (UTC)(link)
IIRC When this came out, Cluemaster hadn't made his return as a major player yet. Steph wouldn't be introduced until the year after, and her was still a forgotten villain from the dim and distant past.