Monday, January 30, 2012

If "Build Character through Perversity" doesn't inspire you, I don't know how to help you...

I have to do this every couple of years: come back to something I said I was going to come back to, some years prior. I had to a while back with my favorite Ann Nocenti Daredevil comic; and about a year ago I mentioned my second-favorite Riddler story...but not my favorite. So, let's get to it, since I randomly stumbled back into it today: from 1993, The Batman Adventures #10, "The Last Riddler Story" Written by Kelley Puckett, pencils by Mike Parobeck, inks by Rick Burchett.

When a shipment of rare jewels bound for the Gotham Museum are nearly stolen by criminal genius Mastermind, Batman and Gordon know his cohorts Mr. Nice and the Perfessor will give it a shot as well. The timing is inconvenient, though, since one of Batman's most persistent villains is getting out of jail tomorrow.

Persistent? Not this time. Even with the encouragement of his curiously familiar looking crew Eddie Nygma is hanging up the Riddler's derby hat. "I riddle my brains out and Batman catches me anyway! If only I could outsmart him just once..." A henchman points out Bats gets hit in the head a lot, so maybe he's dumber now. They manage to convince him by mangling the motto of the penitentiary he just got released from, so Riddler decides to give it one more shot, but if it doesn't work, that'll be the last riddles from him. He delivers the riddle via skywriting, but Batman's busy taking in the friendly armed robber, Mr. Nice.
So. Much. Fun. And something we've seen the Riddler do in comics, too.
The Riddler and his boys enjoy a pleasant afternoon, walking the streets and asking passersby their riddle, then bonking them on the head when they get it wrong. Admittedly, that does look fun; but one of the thugs is misty-eyed at the thought of never seeing their beloved boss this happy again. For his part, Batman admits to Alfred he really hasn't had time to look at the riddle, but he has to take care of the Perfessor first--Bats knows what the Perfessor is going to do, and has to take the sure thing. (I didn't scan it, but Bats is sharpening his Batarangs while he talks to Alfred, and if criminals saw that they'd be even more afraid of him.)
A clever call-back to the Riddler's first B:TAS episode: If You're So Smart, Why Aren't You Rich?
Sure enough, that night the Perfessor and his ungrateful little accomplice try for the jewels, but while Batman takes care of them, the Riddler and his gang make off with the prize! They get all the way to the sidewalk, before Batman beats the tar out of the gang. Riddler, though, is just crushed. How? How could Batman figure it out? Perhaps unwisely, Batman admits he didn't; he just happened to be there. And to the Riddler, that counts as a win, even as he's carted off to jail, the book literally thrown at him in court, and tossed back into prison...

You could read this issue just fine without noticing, but Mastermind, Mr. Nice, and the Perfessor were caricatured versions of DC editors Mike Carlin, Archie Goodwin, and Denny O'Neil. They would actually appear a few more times in the various incarnations of the book, until Goodwin's death in 1998.

1 comment:

Dale Bagwell said...

This and other series' based off the cartoon are forgotten and massively underappreciated gems!