The underworld hath no fury like a Riddler scorned… Your Major Spoilers review of The Riddler: Year Of The Villain #1 awaits!
Writer: Mark Russell
Artist: Scott Godlewski
Colorist: Marissa Louise
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Editor: Molly Mahan
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: #3.99
Previously in The Riddler: Year Of The Villain: Lex Luthor has presented dark gifts to super-villains across the DC Universe, setting off what can only be called the Year of the Villain. Unfortunately, resources are limited, so not everyone got something. The Riddler is one such person, and he is most displeased about it. Was this merely an oversight or a deliberate slight? The Riddler is determined to find out which…
We open at ‘Scarab’s’ the not-terribly-successful restaurant of King Tut, with The Riddler wondering why he would put a great big beetle, evocative of a roach, on the front of his restaurant. Tut replies that it’s all about theming, sparking a discussion of whether their obsession with riddles and Egypt are what’s holding them back from greatness. Riddler is already depressed that Lex Luthor, who has been empowering villains around the DCU hasn’t appeared to offer him cosmic abilities, and wonders if the other villains hold him in the contempt that he secretly has for his friend Tut. Returning home, he is shocked to find Lex Luthor (now a barefoot purple-and-green man in a tattered cloak, waiting for him, but instead of powers, Lex has come to deliver an epiphany: Edward Nygma hasn’t gotten a boost because he’s still wrapped up in his own obsessions, something that Lex has finally outgrown. After sharing a story about growing up in Smallville, Lex leaves The Riddler with his own thoughts.
Then, King Tut calls with a new plan: A trap with DUAL theming, forcing Batman to change gears between riddles and Egypt, sure to bring the Dark Knight down!
IS THIS THE END OF EDWARD NYGMA?
On the one hand, I really enjoy the final pages of this issue, with Riddler just walking away and leaving Tut to be taken in by Batman, throwing his question-mark jacket and bowler aside in order to grow into something more. It’s a nice use of the whole “Lex provides villains an extra edge” premise without giving us Cosmic Riddler, but it adds a wrinkle that breaks my suspension of disbelief. If Riddler, one of the most successful Bat-villains, is a giant loser whose costume and theming are goofy, then all the Bat-villains are goofy, and if they’re all goofy, so is Batman. Even more problematic, Lex claims to be beyond petty obsessions, and yet his first act when gaining his new abilities was to try and take down Superman and all his friends, undermining his own argument (though that one may be intentional.) It’s always tough to make “reality” work in the confines of the DCU, but Russell’s script picks at a thread that puts the weaknesses of costumed comic books front-and-center, which in turn makes it a hard story to love Godlewski’s art is interesting throughout the issue, giving us perhaps the coolest looking King Tut to date, repeatedly adding hilarious Bat-symbols to the soles of the Dark Knight’s boots and doing a really good job of putting a heroic Batman in Tut’s bush-league traveling carnival death-trap. My biggest complaint are that Riddler’s sideburns are now massive Highfather-style puffy jaw-length affairs, but even that helps to sell the point that he’s hopelessly out of his element.
BOTTOM LINE: A SETUP FOR SOMETHING BIGGER
In short, this book is full of promise of a new, more effective Riddler, and it is successful in setting up that future reveal, making me wonder what Edward Nygma will do to get past his childish pursuits. On the downside, though, it nets that success by contemplating the weaknesses of the form itself, meaning that it can’t ever really resolve or repair the problems Riddler is now painfully aware of, meaning that The Riddler: Year Of The Villain #1 can NOT provide the closure that the story and character want, leaving us with a still above-average 3 out of 5 stars overall. It’s not a bad comic, and may in fact be the setup for the Next Big Riddler Thing… which, I hope, will include a shave.
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THE RIDDLER: YEAR OF THE VILLAIN #1
It's a nice twist on 'Yaer Of The Villain' and gives us some insight into Riddler. Just don't think too hard about it...