It’s been a few months since Gotham City was declared a No Man’s Land (or Woman’s Land for that matter) and things have somehow gotten even worse since the city was taken over by the Injustice League. Okay, the complete collapse of local government hasn’t changed things that much, as the decent people of Gotham are still living in terror of the costumed criminals that fight for control of the city and there’s no Batman to beat them down now. But the real big change is that most of the city is without clean running water and electricity.
The one exception to this is the territory taken over by The Riddler, who has taken the campus of what was Gotham State University and transformed it into his own intellectual utopia: Riddler University. Good ol’ Riddle U. Where the leaders of tomorrow can charge their minds and their phones today. Because knowledge is power… and so are water and electricity.
This gives Harley Quinn, who is out to avenge herself upon the Injustice League two good reasons to go after Riddler next. Not only does she want revenge for his part in turning her into a living ornament in Penguin’s club but she also wants water that can’t be chewed. This leads to a brilliant plan where Harley and Ivy decide to infiltrate Riddle U disguised as co-eds so they can kill Riddler and take over his operation.
Unfortunately, the plan runs into some unexpected problems. Chief among these is Barbara Gordon – a seeming stooge for Edward Nigma, who is really gathering intelligence for her father, former Police Commissioner Jim Gordon, so that he can spring into action and investigate why her classmates are all disappearing mysteriously. At least, as soon as he can be convinced to put on some pants. Then there’s the fact that Clayface, in a bid to hone his acting talents, has already snuck into the college as Stephanie – a hot yet bookish transfer student, who has already begun the process of starting to go steady with Chad. (Who is Chad? Only the hottest guy at Riddle U!)
Will Harley and Ivy outwit The Riddler? Can they maintain their cover as hip young co-eds when Ivy still thinks the Indigo Girls are cool and edgy and Harley keeps attacking the school mascot? Will Barbara Gordon rise to the occasion when it becomes clear her dad isn’t leaving her door room until the beer supply runs out? And will Stephanie ever call Chad back after this fiasco is over and done with?
“Riddle U” is a laugh riot from start to finish and a prime example of character-based comedy in action. Most of the humor comes from what we know of the show’s versions of the classic Batman villains rather than the gags one would expect from a collegiate setting. Oh, there’s still a few sophomoric gags (my favorite involves the student protesters and their complaining about the Bachelor of Puzzles degree plan) but most of the jokes involve Harley’s disgust at Kite-Man and Poison Ivy’s too-cute romance and the continuing downward spiral of Commissioner Gordon in the wake of civil order collapsing and his wife leaving him.
Again, the voice acting for this series is top-notch. The stand out this episode is Alan Tudyk, who spends most of the episode entrenched in the role of Stephanie. It’s no surprise that Tudyk is so versatile (This is the man who plays Wash on Firefly, Mr. Nobody in Doom Patrol AND Steve the Pirate in Dodgeball after all.) but it’s frightening how well he adopts the voice of a teenage girl without it becoming a cliche Valley Girl voice.
All in all, Harley Quinn season 2 continues to impress on all fronts. If you aren’t subscribing to DC Universe, it’s a darn compelling reason to consider it. It’s uproariously funny and horribly inappropriate in all the right ways.
Riddle U will be available to stream on April 10th, 2020!
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.