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|First appearance|| Detective Comics #140 |
Story: "The Riddler!"
|Created by|| Bob Kane |
|Origin|| Detective Comics #140 |
Secret Origins Special #1
Detective Comics Annual #8
Countdown to Final Crisis #33
|Affiliations||Secret Society of Supervillains|
|Partner(s)|| Echo and Query (occasional) |
|Known alias(es)|| The Puzzle Pirate |
Prince of Puzzles
|Abilities|| Genius-level intelligence,|
particularly in the areas of problem solving
Wealth acquired from various activities
The Riddler (Edward Nigma or Nygma, or Nashton) is a fictional character, a comic book character published by DC Comics and an enemy of Batman. Created by Bill Finger and Dick Sprang, the character first appeared in Detective Comics #140 (1948)
Though created relatively early (in 1947), the Earth-Two Nygma made only two appearances during the Golden Age before fading into obscurity. His Silver Age self was introduced in Batman #171 ("The Remarkable Ruse of the Riddler!"), in which he was portrayed with his obsession with Batman for the first time.
As the release of the comic coincided with the development of the 1960s TV series, the Riddler was quickly adopted into said series, transforming from a minor villain to a major member of Batman's rogues gallery almost overnight.
Fictional Character BiographyEdit
As befitting the rather one-dimensional villains at the time, the Pre-Crisis Riddler was given little, if any backstory. The only information given about his past is that he enjoys puzzles, but always made sure to cheat so that he would win.
Nigma's backstory was expanded upon somewhat later on, where it is revealed that Nigma's "life of crime" had began when he cheated in a contest at school. The contest was to see who could solve a jigsaw puzzle the fastest, but Nigma had taken a picture of the completed puzzle with his camera, allowing him an unfair advantage.
As a boy, Edward Nigma (sometimes spelled Nygma) was born into a broken home with an absent mother and an abusive father. The Pre-Crisis showing of his childhood is expanded upon, as the puzzle in the contest is no longer a simple jigsaw. In this case, Edward cheated by sneaking into the school after hours and practicing with the puzzle for hours on end. As a result, when the day of the contest finally came, he easily won, and was awarded with a book of riddles, cementing a part of his future career.
After this incident, Edward became obsessed with developing his mind, and as a result, excelled in school. His father, however, could not accept the fact that his son was smarter than he was, and often beat Edward, accusing him of cheating. This treatment cemented the second part of Edward's modus operandi as the Riddler - he would always tell the truth, albeit in the form of extremely complicated riddles.
An alternate version of Edward's childhood, presented in Detective Comics Annual #8, suggests that Nigma was not extraordinarily intelligent, and was simply an attention-seeker that was good at cheating. His obsession with riddles is not presented as an obsession, but instead as a ploy for attention from the people of Gotham.
Eventually, Edward grew into an adult and became a carnival barker who ran a rigged booth, taking delight in cheating his customers. Deep down, however, he felt that this job was not worthy of his great intelligence. Thus, he moved to Gotham and became an information broker for the criminal underworld, but as time went on, he became more and more fascinated with the Batman. He decided that the crowning moment of his career would be to defeat the Caped Crusader in a battle of wits, and, subsequently, to solve the riddle of his identity. Thus, he adopted the guise of the Riddler.
In his first-ever appearance, the Riddler embarked on an enormous crime wave across Gotham, sending Batman several riddles that would provide clues as to what his plans were. The Riddler wins the first and second "rounds", successfully robbing a bank by flooding it and robbing the home of a millionaire art collector. During his third crime (robbing an amusement park at the Gotham Pier), Batman and Robin successfully deduce the riddle, but the Riddler traps them inside the glass maze at the park with a bomb. In the end, the Dynamic Duo are able to escape by lighting a fire and manipulating the metal frame of the maze, allowing them to escape. Nigma, however, falls off of the pier and into the water, where he apparently drowns.
A mere two issues later, however, Nigma is revealed to be alive and well, having climbed into a sewage pipe to escape to the surface. The Puzzle Pirate embarks upon a different sort of crime upon his return - namely, giving out riddles in public to the denizens of Gotham, and promising a reward to those who can find the location hidden within. As the riddles are simple ones, thousands are able to solve them, and thus rush to the determined locations. The prizes for solving the riddles are very real, but Riddler himself reaps the biggest prize of all, as the commotion caused by such a promise makes it much easier for him to rob the locations and escape. Nevertheless, the Dynamic Duo eventually apprehend him inside an enormous Sphinx at the Gotham Museum. 
Upon his release from Gotham Penitentiary much, much later, The Riddler claims to have reformed, and helps a skeptical Batman and Robin take down a gang of criminals known as the Molehill Mob. The Dynamic Duo are still skeptical, and mistakenly apprehend him twice - on both occasions, Nigma had been innocent. In the end, however, Nigma proves to be a criminal through and through, as he robs the country club known as the Ox Club. The Dynamic Duo are still able to stop him, having deduced the location of his actual crime from his two fake crimes (the first fake crime involved a pearl, while the second involved an ivory cross; a circle and a cross put together form "Ox").
Throughout the Silver Age of comic books, Riddler would continue to torment the duo many more times, and often took part in gatherings of Gotham's various "supervillains".
Post-Crisis on Infinite Earths, The Riddler's crimes began to take on a darker bent, in contrast to the colorful, larger-than-life crimes he had committed before the Crisis. One particular story arc during the 1980s entitled "Dark Knight, Dark City" (Batman #452-#454) had him possessed by an ancient demon named Barbathos, resulting in Nigma becoming uncharacteristically bloodthirsty and violent. While under Barbathos' influence, The Riddler sadistically killed several people, in addition to abducting four infants that were utilized in his twisted word games with Batman.
During the "Knightfall" saga, Nigma was forcefully injected with Venom by Bane and successfully fought off Batman (partially due to him being preoccupied with disarming a bomb). Later on, after Bane had released most of Arkham Asylum's inmates, the Riddler is betrayed by his own henchmen, annoyed with his constant sending of riddles. Dejected, Nigma takes over a televised game show, armed with a fake bomb, and challenges the audience with riddles. He is eventually defeated and apprehended by Robin.
During the "Hush" storyline, Nigma finds himself diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor, which he rids himself of with Ra's al-Ghul's Lazarus Pits. Upon receiving the madness that the Pit bestows upon all of its users, Nigma experiences a momentary period of rationality, during which he deduces that Batman is indeed Bruce Wayne. Annoyed with his declining status as a criminal in Gotham, he teams up with Thomas Elliot, AKA Hush (whom he promises to give the information to), to wage a war on Batman and prove his superiority. By way of manipulating many of Batman's rogues against him, the Riddler almost wins, but in the end, Batman is able to figure out that he was the one behind the entire gambit. Batman then confronts the Riddler that his newly-gained knowledge was all for naught, as "a riddle that everybody knows the answer to is worthless". 
After this gambit, the Riddler experienced misfortune after misfortune. His former partner, Hush, reappears and brutally beats him for "betraying" him. A shaky partnership with Joker to escape Gotham City fares little better, as Hush, with the help of Prometheus, leaves Joker and his gang in tatters and forces Nigma to seek refuge from Poison Ivy. This, too, ends badly, and leaves Riddler mentally and physically broken. A pathetic, homeless shell of his former self, Riddler is fortunately helped out of his predicament by an ex-NASA codebreaker, who helps him regain his mind and dignity. For a time, Riddler returned to his former position as one of DC's most famous supervillains, but entered a year-long coma when he was struck by Shining Knight's mace during Infinite Crisis.
Upon his awakening from the coma, Nigma finds himself cured of his obsession with riddles (as well as the knowledge of Batman's secret identity). With his intelligence mercifully intact, he reforms and decides to become a private investigator. Though Batman (and by extension, most of DC's heroes) are suspicious of him, he is tolerated, and has even proved to be useful on several occasions.
Powers and AbilitiesEdit
Like most of Batman's rogues gallery, the Riddler has no inherent super-powers, and depends largely on his intellect to accomplish his goals. He is an undisputed master of riddles, puzzles, and other such mind games, to the point where Batman is often the only person who can decipher his clues.
Besides his mastery of mind games, the Riddler is also an expert hacker (as to deliver his riddles to the police and Batman) and engineer (he is seen building fairly complex deathtraps many times). He has also shown himself to be a master manipulator, expertly pitting the Dark Knight against the likes of Killer Croc, Poison Ivy, Superman (brainwashed by Ivy), Harley Quinn, the Joker, the Scarecrow, and Clayface (disguised as a resurrected Jason Todd) during "Hush".
The Riddler is a fairly poor hand-to-hand combatant, his only real advantage being his agility. During the "Knightfall" saga, however, he was forcibly injected with Venom by the newcomer Bane, and consequently gained super-human speed, agility, and durability (though, according to Batman, the latter is due to the toxins acting on his mind and rendering him too crazed to feel pain). The pumped-up Riddler was easily able to defeat Batman in hand-to-hand combat, and it was only due to the intervention of Bane's henchmen that he was defeated. 
Nigma rarely commits his crimes unarmed; his trademark weapon is his question-mark cane, which has served as everything from a melee weapon to a lockpick. He will also occasionally use more conventional weapons such as guns, and many of his crimes involve bombs wired to detonate at a certain time.
During the pre-crisis stories, Nigma also had a variety of odd inventions at his disposal. In his first appearance, for instance, he trapped a millionaire inside an enormous wire-puzzle cage and gagged him, intending for the man to suffocate to death. The puzzle was solvable, though Batman met difficulties in taking it apart.
Despite his massive intelligence, the Riddler's own mind proves to be his undoing. As a result of the abuse he endured as a child, he is cursed with an unusual strain of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, rendering him incapable of committing a crime without leaving riddles behind. As a result, he is always apprehended by Batman.
The Riddler is an extremely arrogant man, believing that he is truly the smartest man in the world. He views his battles of wits against Batman as a way of proving his superiority, and believes that Batman is the only one who is worthy of "playing his games". His enormous ego, once popped by Poison Ivy, leaves him a mindless, broken man.
Compared to the likes of Joker and Two-Face, the Riddler is actually one of Batman's least violent rogues, as he seldom kills without reason. His crimes are often robberies and kidnappings (along with the occasional bomb threat) instead of murder, making him a perfect match for the more innocent and detective work-oriented times of the Golden and Silver ages. This is remarked upon by the Riddler in the Secret Origins Special #1, where he states to a Gotham TV crew, "What happened to us? The Joker is killing people, for God's sake!" An exception to this personality, however, comes during the aforementioned "Dark Knight, Dark City" storyline, in which, while possessed by the demon Barbathos, he casually shoots a security guard, nearly succeeds in hanging another, and kidnapped four babies from a hospital - one of which he threw into the path of a speeding Batmobile.
As a reformed private investigator, Riddler retains all his intelligence, along with a returned ego. Though mostly in the job for its pay, he has yet to demonstrate any criminal tendencies beyond collaborating with underworld informants such as the Penguin.
Relationship with the JokerEdit
By far, the most interaction that the Riddler has had with the Joker took place during the "Pushback" story arc (Batman: Gotham Knights #50-#55), where Nigma is saved from a vengeful Hush (on the verge of killing him) by Joker. Subsequently, Joker orders his henchmen to beat Hush into a bloody pulp, and reveals his reason for saving Nigma: he wants the name of the man who killed his wife. Subsequently, it is revealed that during the pre-chemical bath Joker's enforced robbery at the chemical plant, the gangsters he was collaborating with murdered his wife to force him to go through with the plan. Nigma, who had recently moved to Gotham, witnessed the entire scene.
After exchanging their bits of the story with each other, Joker (who learns that the man was named Oliver Hammet) and several of his henchmen accompany Nigma to the proposed hiding place - the amusement park that the Joker tortured Gordon inside during The Killing Joke. En route, however, they are attacked by Hush, now allied with Prometheus, who kills most of the Joker's henchmen and nearly kills Joker himself. Both Joker and Riddler are forced to flee, going their separate ways - Joker to the amusement park, and the Riddler to Poison Ivy.
1966 Television SeriesEdit
Portrayed by actor Frank Gorshin in the 1960s live-action series, the character of the Riddler soared to one of Batman's major rogues (before the TV series, he was an extremely minor character with few comic appearances). Gorshin's hyperactive and pun-obsessed yet calculating character proved to be extremely popular, to the point where his catchphrase "Riddle me this" has become a practical pop culture icon. In addition, Gorshin also invented the character's second trademark outfit - a green jacket and bowler hat covered in question marks that have all but replaced the character's traditional spandex costume.
Throughout the course of the show, Gorshin's Riddler made few appearances compared to the likes of Cesar Romero's Joker and Julie Newmar's Catwoman, but arguably made the biggest impression on the audience. His crimes ranged from tricking Batman into a lawsuit to kidnapping a visiting king, and always involved an over-the-top deathtrap of some sort. Most (in)famously, he teamed up with fellow rogues Joker, Penguin, and Catwoman to launch an attack on the United Nations building in the 1966 theatrical film, and stole the Batmobile along with Catwoman in the made-for-TV-movie Return to the Batcave: The Misadventures of Adam and Burt.
Jim Carrey portrays Edward Nigma/The Riddler in Batman Forever, and is one of two primary antagonists (the other being Two-Face). Here, Edward Nigma is an employee of Wayne Enterprises, who invents a mind-manipulation device called The Box, which is rejected by Bruce Wayne, yet continues to work on it, ultimately discovering that the use of his device increases his own intelligence, and enables him to look into others minds. He perfects his brain-manipulation device into a system which beams signals to and from the human brain in order to simulate an immersive television viewing experience. After being inspired by a televised raid on a circus by Two-Face, Nigma adopts his own alter ego in the form of the Riddler, and approaches Two-Face with a deal: if he helps Nigma fund major production for his device, he will use his ill-gotten knowledge to tell him Batman's secret identity, which Two-Face accepts after a flip of his coin.
Nigma is shown to be obsessed with his idol Bruce Wayne, stalking him and leaving riddles for him. Throughout the film, Nigma obsesses over Wayne, copying Wayne's appearance down to a facial mole, and he prevents Two-Face from killing him (so that Batman can solve a riddle). The Riddler's uniform also appears in the sequal film Batman and Robin.
While critics stated that the Forever interpretations of the Riddler and Two-Face had more in common with Joker than their comic book counterparts, Carrey was nominated for the MTV Award for "Best Villain" for his performance, as was Tommy Lee Jones for his portrayal of Two-Face.
When Michael Keaton was still attached to the film, director Joel Schumacher was considering Robin Williams for the role of the Riddler. Williams turned down the role, and when Keaton left the project and was replaced with Val Kilmer, Jim Carrey was cast. Carrey had stated that he was attracted to the "stalker" angle added to the character in the script.
The Adventures of BatmanEdit
The first Riddler to appear in animation was in the 1968 series The Batman/Superman Hour, later turned into The Adventures of Batman with Robin, the Boy Wonder. The character was extremely similar, both in personality and crimes, to the Frank Gorshin take.
Most famously, the Riddler was one of the 13 members of Lex Luthor's Legion of Doom. He often provided little to the plot, but in the episode Around the World In 80 Riddles, finally became a threat when he sprayed several heroes with a gas called the "stupid spray" that would drastically lower their IQ. A worldwide hunt for the Riddler ensued, with each riddle bringing the heroes closer to his location.
Due to the Riddler appearing on Super Friends, he was not allowed to appear on The New Adventures of Batman and Robin. The Joker received a similar treatment, but in reverse.
DC Animated UniverseEdit
Batman: The Animated SeriesEdit
In the widely-acclaimed 1990s cartoon, Nigma was re-imagined as a brilliant but vain computer game designer introduced in If You're So Smart, Why Aren't You Rich?. After his most acclaimed game, Riddle of the Minotaur, makes millions, Nigma's boss fires him in order to keep all of the profits to himself. Furious, Nigma creates the identity of the Riddler over the space of two years and returns to take his revenge on his boss. Although he almost succeeded in killing the man, Batman and Robin were able to save him. In the end, however, it is a Pyrrhic victory, as Nigma's boss now lives in constant fear of Nigma coming back.
Nigma, however, gained a new worthy opponent in Batman, and returned to face him once again in a battle of wits in What is Reality? Though the episode ended with his mind trapped inside a virtual world, he apparently recovered, as he made a cameo in the episode Trial. He last appeared in Riddler's Reform, in which he is released from Arkham, declared cured, and attempts to lead an honest life. Despite now being rich and famous, however, the thrill of dueling Batman comes back to haunt him, and he eventually tries to kill the Dark Knight once again, earning himself a ticket back to Arkham. Here, The Riddler was voiced by John Glover.
The New Batman AdventuresEdit
Like most of Batman's rogues gallery, the Riddler received a revamp in design when The New Batman Adventures (connected directly to B:TAS) began, voiced once again by John Glover. Though his new appearance was much more faithful to the Frank Gorshin version, he became a relatively minor character, only appearing in two episodes ("Over the Edge" and "Judgment Day"), neither of which were centered on him. It should be noted, however, that he is featured prominently in the comic book based off of the series.
A series in an entire different continuity from the DC Animated Universe, the Riddler featured in this series is strikingly different in both design and backstory. Here, Nigma was an introverted boy with a love for puzzles who was often berated by his father, who wanted him to pursue sports instead. He grew up to be prominent scientist who invented a special disk that could boost the memory capacities of the human brain, but was disgraced when the disks malfunctioned, nearly killing the man who volunteered for the demonstration.
Believing that a businessman (whose purchase offer he had turned down earlier) was responsible, Nigma sought revenge by transforming the man's house into a labyrinth of riddle-themed traps. The man only narrowly escaped thanks to Batman, and Nigma, taking inspiration from the Dark Knight, adopted the guise of the Riddler. He was featured in the episodes "Riddled" (where he debuted), "Night and the City" (where he was involved in a three-way turf war with Joker and Penguin), and "Riddler's Revenge" (where he finally discovered that it was his lab assistant who sabotaged the disks).