WANTED: Earth-Two's Most Dangerous Super-Villains
The Golden Age Riddler
Name: Edward Nigma
Residence: Gotham City
Occupation: Professional Criminal
First Appearance (Golden Age): Detective Comics #140 (October 1948)
Edward Nigma, the boy who would grow up to be the Riddler,
had a criminal bent at an early age. His
first foray into deceit came in school,
when he cheated to win a prize solving the class puzzle. Stimulated by the win, he developed a knack
for presenting “unsolvable” riddles which he could solve with hacks he had
created in advanced. After school, he
made a living for himself running street rackets as “the Puzzle King” but felt
he was insufficiently challenged by fleecing ordinary citizens. Much greater reward, and invigoration, would
be found in defeating the Gotham Police or even Batman. He resolved to create a new criminal identity
for himself and thus was born …. The Riddler!
The Riddler’s first
crime involved hijacking a new advertisement – a lit up cross word – to introduce
himself and challenge Batman with three clues – A water vessel, a public way
and a formal dinner. The Dynamic Duo
guessed the answers – a basin, a street and a banquet – but jumped to the wrong
conclusion that the Riddler was robbing a banquet on Basin Street. Instead, he flood the bank on Basin Street
and robbed it underwater (bank-wet). In
his second clue the Riddler makes the police solve a jigsaw puzzle that he says
he will rob the Eagle’s nest. While
Robin heads to a rooftop club called the Aerie, Batman checks an alternative
theory, that the Riddler is robbing the home of millionaire Hamilton
Eagle. Batman’s suspicions are confirmed
but the Riddler has left Eagle in a puzzle-based death trap that Batman had to
solve while the Riddler escaped. In the
final puzzle, the Riddler asks why his corn hard to escape? The answer – because its maize (a maze) –
lures Batman and Robin to a glass maze on the water front that the Riddler has
blocked the exits after the enter and laden with bombs. With minutes ticking down, Batman breaks
through one of the walls and escapes as the explosion throws Riddler to his
apparent death (Detective Comics #140).
The Riddler had not died however, having swam into a drain
pipe and re-appeared a few months later with new schemes. He
crashes a puzzle contest and captures the presenters in a wire mesh puzzle,
fleeing with the prize money. The idea
gives me an idea – he will engage the public in his next brazen crimes to
create confusion to cover his thefts.
He use the power controls of a skyscraper to write out a riddle in the
windows – a heavy wagon and a furnace. Batman
and Robin rush in on the Riddler but he had jigsawed the floor which collapses
beneath their weight. The public guesses
the clues – a heavy wagon is a cart and a furnace is a heater and thus they
flock to a drive-in – a cartheater. In
the mob, the Riddler leaves $1000 to be found by the crowd but steals $5000
from the box office and escapes on a motorcycle. Batman and Robin can’t follow
through the jammed cars.
The Riddler’s second puzzle was announced from a blimp towing the clues – a rein, a bow and a club. Batman and Robin swoop in on the Bat-Plane but the Riddler sabotages the blimp and parachutes away, leaving the Dynamic Duo to deal with the crashing blimp. The crowd below solves the puzzle – The Rainbow Club –and rush off to the next prize. Batman and Robin intercept the riddle but again he parachutes from atop a giant sign and uses the crowd to escape. The final clues are given when the Riddler crashes a TV broadcast and offers four hints – that he’s got a ham, he mews like a cat, he stares into the distance and he hums a tune. Batman deduces that it spells out Gotham Museum. The Riddler steals jewels and when the heroes arrive, slips into a hall of mirror. Batman recognizes that reflections are always reversed and only the real Riddle will have his question marks showing the correct direction. He lunges for that figures and the Riddler is bound and sent to jail (Detective Comics #142).
The activities of the Riddler after this point are
unrevealed. In the early 21st
century, the aging Joker mourns that the Riddler has died, indicating his
passing and that he knew the Joker, the circumstances of which are not known
(JSA Annual #1). How he died, if he is
truly dead and whether he left heirs is unknown.
Powers and Abilities
Edward Nigma had a devious and inventive mind that he diverted to acts of criminality. He was of above-average physical prowess, especially when seeking escape, and possessed sufficient engineering skills to rig up a variety of complex puzzles and traps. He was sufficiently financed through his criminal activities to purchase or otherwise acquire extensive implements for his crimes.
Weaknesses and Limitations
Without his equipment , The Riddler was an ordinary mortal and could be captured as such.
The Riddler of Earth-One is thought to have a largely similar origin as his Earth-Two counterpart, albeit with a more extensive history (Batman #171). This version of the Riddler has a more extensive network of criminal connections, albeit largely within Gotham City. He occasionally encounter other adversaries such as the Elongated Man (Detective Comics #373) and was considered one of the top criminals active in Gotham when Batman was supposedly murdered (Batman #291-294), While he is obsessive, he is no more frankly insane than his Earth-Two counterpart and when defeated, returns to Gotham Penitentiary, rather than Arkham Asylum. He is active until at least the Crisis on Infinite Earths were he is part of Brainiac's villain army but his final fate in this timeline is unknown.
The Riddler of the immediate post-Crisis timeline is revealed to be Edward Nashton, who changed his name to Edward Nigma as part of his criminal guise. (Batman #415) Additional details suggest an abusive childhood that let him to consider a life of crime. Whether these details are common to other Riddlers is unknown. This version of the Riddler is much more mentally deranged, requiring incarceration at Arkham and he becomes worse over time, esp after dabbling in the occult (Batman #452-454). This Riddler also has a more international reputation and works with criminals all over, including as a member of the Secret Society of Super-Villains. When the Society attacks Metropolis, the Riddler is rendered comatose by a blow from the mace of the Shining Knight. When he awakes one year later, he retains his intellect but not his mental illness and reforms, becoming a valuable ally of Batman and other figures in Gotham (Batman #822). His final fate in this timeline is also unknown.
The Riddler of the current Earth-0 or Prime Earth has a different origin than his commonly seen. In this timeline he is a corrupt employee of Wayne Enterprises who attempts to have the Bruce Wayne, who is returning from years abroad as a young man, assassinated to cover his crimes at Wayne. He is ultimately defeated by Batman early in his career (Batman Vol. 2 #22-33) during which he always maintained an intense rivalry with the Joker, know as "The War of Jokes and Riddles". This version of the Riddler is probably the most international in his level of criminal reputation though is also the most clinically insane, requiring him to spend most of his time in Arkham Asylum. In addition to his battles with Batman, he had an extensive altercation with the Flash win the Crime Syndicate of Earth-3 attacked his home Earth (The Flash Vol. 1 #49-52). He was last seen in Arkham after being captured during the incursion from the Dark Multiverse (Teen Titans Vol. 6 #12).
The Riddler of this Earth is a serial murderer who may or may not be Edward Nigma. After a spree of riddle-based traps that killed nearly 50 people is defeated by the Batman and arrested by the Gotham Police Department (Batman: Earth One Vol. 2).
On this Earth of reversed morality, the Riddler is a heroic figure and leader of a family of vigilantes known as the Riddler Family, including Three-Face and the Harlequin. They rescue the Jokester from Owlman, bringing down the wrath of the Crime Syndicate and leaving them supposedly for dead. His final fate in this time line is unknown (Countdown Presents: The Search for Ray Palmer: Crime Society #1).
A version of the Riddler exists in the 18th century timeline but little is known beyond his existence when possessed by Mister Mind during the Convergence event. This case may involve a replicate of true Earth-19 Riddler however (Convergence Shazam #2).
A version of the Riddler is known to exist in this world but not other details are available (DC New Frontier LS)
The Riddler of Earth-22 is thought to have a similar history as his Prior Earth-0 Counterpart. He is part of Luthor's Mankind Liberation Front, although at his advanced age it seems unlikely he does much (Kingdom Come LS).
A Bizarro form of the Riddler exists on Earth-29 as a member of the Legion of Fun. Nothing more than his existence has been documented (Superman Vol. 4 #43)
The Edward Nigma of this Earth is an unethical pyschiatrist who overprescribes drugs to Barbara Gordon until his "treament of her is canceled. He is not known to have take the identity of the Riddler (Batman: ThrillKiller '62).
The Riddler of this Earth is an inmate at Arkham when visited by the vampiric Batman of Earth-43. He is killed by Batman but in a world where nothing stays dead, his final fate is unknown (Batman: Crimson Mist).
Detective Comics #140
1st appearance, vs. Batman and Robin
Batman from the 30’s to the 70’s, Batman: Two-Face and The Riddler TPB, Batman Archives #7, Batman: The TV Stories, Batman Arkham: The Riddler, Batman: The Golden Age Omnibus Vol. 6, Detective Comics: 80 Years of Batman
Detective Comics #142
vs. Batman and Robin
Batman Archives #7, Batman Arkham: The Riddler, Batman: The Golden Age Omnibus Vol. 6