Lex Luthor recently killed himself, promising a share of his fortune to anyone willing to devote their lives to the cause of Doom – being true to their inner selves as dictated by fate and not pretending to be anything other than what they are.
Of course Luthor, being Luthor, cheated, and rather than properly dying he was reborn in the form of “Apex Lex,” apparently taking over the body of Martian Manhunter and transforming himself into physical embodiment of the perfect being. At least in the mind of Perpetua – the cosmic being and virtual goddess Lex claims created the multiverse and had intended for humanity to evolve into the ultimate predators.
Confused? So are most of the villains Lex has attempted to explain this to using increasingly small words. For them, it is enough that Luthor is willing to upgrade their powers and give them everything they ever wanted so that they can settle some old scores, no questions asked. But riddle me this – what if you’re a villain who does nothing but ask questions? Because Edward Nygma – alias The Riddler – has one big question on his mind – Why not me?
Yes, somehow Batman’s greatest nemesis has gone ignored as Lex Luthor has been tossing out favors like they were beads at Mardi Gras and Edward Nygma demands to know the reason why. Of course the problem with asking questions is sometimes you get answers. And they aren’t necessarily going to be the ones you want.
I think some Riddler fans may find themselves annoyed by Riddler: Year Of The Villain #1, because Mark Russell’s version of Edward Nygma is far more self-aware and introspective than we usually see The Riddler being. Admittedly, the basic idea of The Riddler doesn’t work if Edward Nygma stops to think “Is this really worth it?” Like Wile E. Coyote, Riddler is compelled to do what he is doing, even if trying to outwit Batman is a futile endeavor and he is doomed to wind up back at the bottom of the hill under a boulder and doomed to try again.
Personally, I like what Russell does here as, logically, Nygma is too smart NOT to ask questions about what’s wrong with his life and over-analyze it to death trying to find an answer. Being insane and nowhere near as smart as he thinks he is, he’ll naturally come up with the wrong answers, but it’s wrong to think that Riddler would never question the process at all. That’s what he does. And Russell puts some surprisingly deep thought behind the soul of Edward Nygma and who he truly is when you get right down to it.
Beyond that, this issue is a hoot if only for the modernized King Tut that Russell introduces into the modern DC Comics multiverse. I love the old Adam West Batman show and do enjoy it when writers find a way to sneak a shout-out into the overly serious Batman comics we get today. I also love Batman’s response when King Tut sends a riddle of his own to the police to lure him into a trap and the cops in the station (who are ordering pizza) ask Batman if they should put some pizza in the fridge for him.
If your response to that is “Batman does not eat pizza!” and you can’t enjoy, even for a moment, the incongruous image of Batman taking part in an office pizza party, you may want to skip Riddler: Year Of The Villain #1. If, however, you enjoy a good, silly story with some deep thought behind it or are a fan of the Riddler who can stand to see your favorite villain evolve in a surprising new direction, you should definitely pick this one up.
Riddler: Year Of The Villain #1 releases on September 11th, 2019!
Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.