Saturday, August 08, 2009
Thank God for Jeph Loeb. His superb authorship of the "Hush" Batman story arc resurrected one of the great villains of comics. The Riddler is proof that what makes great comics does not always make great cinema. Frank Gorshun's TV Riddler was great television in the 60's and Jim Carrey's movie depiction was firmly rooted in Gorshun, even if over-the-top which is saying something for Carrey. But both rendered the character too silly for the printed page. Prior to "Hush," the Riddler had all but disappeared from the pages of the comics. Which was a shame because he certainly is an iconic image of the genre.
As conceived, The Riddler was a villain who created puzzles for the World's Greatest Detective (Batman) to solve. This made him a mainstay of the Comics Code days when Batman was not nearly so dark as he is today. The problem which confronted writers was how to turn such a villain dark as Batman returned to his own dark roots. He became a simply murdered with OCD about riddles as clues left at the scene - BORING!
Loeb returned him to greatness by making him a manipulative schemer. His riddles were now writ large in the plots he was behind. This is one of the greatest creative feats in the history of comics as far as I am concerned. Since "Hush," the Riddler as turned "good" - often helping Bats solve crimes for only the Riddler has the problem solving chops to match Bats, since only he could stump him. It's a thing of beauty.
In this case, Edward Nigma is, literally, so bad that he became good.