|BATMAN No. 23.2, November 2013|
Having made his first appearance in the October 1948 issue of “Detective Comics”, Bill Finger and Dick Sprang’s co-creation has arguably been predominantly portrayed within the ‘DC Universe’ as a brilliant yet “sometimes a little silly” character. A supervillain who is rarely paid “the respect he thinks he deserves”. With “Solitaire”, a “DC Comics” “Villains Month” spotlight book which purportedly “unleashes the Riddler” upon Wayne Enterprises Tower, writer Ray Fawkes would appear to have been trying to inject Edward with a somewhat darker, more sinister streak and by the end of his twenty-page narrative actually succeeds.
Indeed the green-suited puzzle-obsessed madman has rarely been portrayed as such a coldly calculating, patient, nasty piece of work, as he spends four years planning an attack upon an Arkham Asylum guard simply because the man laid a hand on him after discovering that the “psycho” had torn his sleeping sheets to shreds in order to create a deck of homemade cards; “You know the rules. No cards. No games. Not for you, smart guy.” Such chilling dedication to such a perceived personal slight is unnerving to say the least, especially as in order to take his revenge and literally blow off the officer’s “arm you pushed me with” Nygma has to overcome the formidable challenges of “the most secure building in Gotham City”.
Fawkes would have the magazine’s 107,413 readers believe that “one of the Batman’s most enduring enemies” attempts such a feat in order to add “layers to the game to keep himself entertained” and in the hope “that someone will face off against him and allow him to prove his superiority.” But there seems to be much more than that to the Canadian storyteller’s Riddler as the flamboyant felon demonstrates a real viciousness to his character during this ‘intellectual escapade’. Certainly the masked maniac seems to take a sadistic delight in electrocuting one of Wayne’s hapless ‘morons’ simply because the sentry wouldn’t even “try to answer” a conundrum. Whilst Edward's brutal beating of “functionary” Caroline Slater after the company executive catches him unawares with a ‘sock to the jaw’ is unchivalrously merciless.
Disappointingly, whilst the writing for this edition of “Batman” is compellingly strong, the artwork of Jeremy Haun leaves quite a bit to be desired. The American freelancer can clearly draw a very competent panel. But despite the storyline containing numerous dynamic action-packed sequences, the former “Top Cow” illustrator’s pencilling appears very staid with the main antagonist’s movement in particular appearing rather robotic and lifeless.
|Writer: Ray Fawkes, Artist: Jeremy Haun, and Colorist: John Rausch|