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The Riddler, (Edward "E." Nigma, also spelled Nygma by some writers ), is an enemy of Batman. Created by writer Bill Finger and artist Dick Sprang, he first appeared in Detective Comics #140 (December 1948).

Known for his purple domino mask and green, question mark-covered costume, either as a skintight catsuit or a business suit and bowler hat, the Riddler is obsessed with riddles, puzzles, and word games. He delights in forewarning police and Batman of his capers by sending them complex clues.
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Like most Batman villains, the Riddler has become a darker, more three-dimensional character in recent years. Whereas he was once portrayed as a playful but sane criminal trickster, he is now the victim of an intense obsessive compulsion. This was first introduced in the 1965 issue of Batman (titled, "The Remarkable Ruse of The Riddler") in which he tried to refrain from leaving a riddle, but failed. This compulsion has been a recurring theme, albeit with a darker edge, as shown in a 1999 issue of Gotham Adventures, in which he tried to commit a crime without leaving a riddle, but fails: "You don't understand. .. I really didn't want to leave you any clues. I really planned never to go back to Arkham Asylum. But I left you a clue anyway. So I... I have to go back there. Because I might need help. I... I might actually be crazy."

The Riddler was popularized by Frank Gorshin’s over-the-top, Emmy-nominated portrayal in the 1960s Batman television series. Jim Carrey played the Riddler in the 1995 film Batman Forever with Gorshin as his inspiration, although the concurrent Batman: The Animated Series preferred to show the character as a calmer, intellectual egotist, more obsessed with proving his own cleverness than in creating puzzles. In the current animated series The Batman, The Riddler is presented in a sinister and gothic fashion with a love of crime and a taste for computer hacking.

History and analysis

Edward Nigma discovered puzzles when he was a young boy, and he gradually incorporated them into his criminal career. Issue #2 of Justice by Alex Ross suggests that his father physically abused him, which left him with a compulsion to tell the truth (materializing through the telling of riddles), as well as a desire to prove his superiority by outwitting everyone around him.

The Riddler's criminal modus operandi is so deeply ingrained into his personality that he is virtually powerless to stop himself from acting it out. He cannot simply kill his opponents when he has the upper hand; he has to put them in a deathtrap to see if he can devise a life and death intellectual challenge that the hero cannot solve and escape. However, unlike many of Batman's themed enemies, Riddler's compulsion is quite flexible, allowing him to commit any crime as long as he can describe it in a riddle or puzzle. He often has two female assistants, named Query and Echo.
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Eddie Nashton

Sometimes, he is shown to drive a "Riddlermobile," a green car with "???" on the license plate. In the animated series and in Batman Forever, he carries a trick cane.

Hush

In the 12 part storyline Hush, it is revealed that Riddler had suffered from cancer, which also afflicted Dr. Thomas Elliott's mother. Riddler used one of Ra's Al Ghul's Lazarus Pits to rid himself of the disease, and offered Elliot the chance to cure his mother as well, provided he paid a large sum of money. However, Elliott was in fact eager for his mother to die in order to inherit her fortune. Elliott, who went on to secretly become the masked criminal known as Hush, explained that he would only give Riddler the money he wanted if Riddler played along with his "game" to get revenge on his childhood friend Bruce Wayne; Riddler agreed, and the two of them set Killer Croc, Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, The Joker, Clayface, and Scarecrow out to destroy Batman, with Ra's and Talia Al Ghul, Lady Shiva (In Ra's's employ) and Superman (Temporarily under Ivy's control) being temporarily drawn into the scheme as well.

During the psychotic break that followed exposure to the Lazarus Pit, Riddler deduced Batman's secret identity, and that Jason Todd was once Robin. He then told Clayface to impersonate Jason in order to torment Batman, who was haunted by the former Robin's death. Batman first thought that Riddler had stolen Jason's corpse and hid it outside of Gotham Cemetery, but it turned out that Jason was alive the whole time. When Riddler threatened to reveal Batman's identity (Commenting that "Now the world is my oyster. Right, Bruce?"), however, the Caped Crusader mocked the threat as harmless, stating it was like the old joke about "What time is it when an elephant sits on your fence"; if Riddler revealed the answer to the riddle "who is Batman?", it would become worthless, something Riddler wouldn't be able to stand. Riddler hadn't even told Clayface Batman's true identity when he was posing as Jason, the one thing that would have made the impersonation perfect, and had only told Hush because he had to. In addition, Batman warned the Riddler that if he revealed the secret, it would give Ra's al Ghul a vital clue that he used a Lazarus Pit without his permission, and the League of Assassins would subsequently retaliate against him.

Aftermath

The fallout from Riddler's failed scheme would be played out in Batman: Gotham Knights #50-53. In the story "Pushback," Hush reappears and beats Riddler senseless across a rooftop. Seeking refuge, Riddler would go to the Joker and the Penguin. He would offer to tell the Joker who had killed his wife if the Clown Prince of Crime would protect him from Hush. The Joker agrees, but eventually Hush, with the help of Prometheus, defeats Mr. J, forcing the Riddler to flee for his life.

In Detective Comics #797-799 the Riddler faces a great humiliation at the hands of Poison Ivy in the storyline entitled "Low", which took place the same time as "War Games" In this encounter, the Riddler would seek shelter from Ivy only to be humiliated. Riddler and Ivy then faced off in a physical duel, which Ivy won easily.

Riddler was stripped of his deductive powers and left to rot as a member of Gotham City's vast and invisible homeless population. A chance encounter with an ex-NSA codebreaker gave him a positive environment in which to recover his mind. During that stay, he experienced an induced flashback that led him to realize that his father had abused him many years ago. His father, unable to grasp that his son was brilliant, believed he had cheated in his accomplishments, and beat him out of jealousy. Once Riddler discovered this, he also realized that his compulsion was born out of a strong desire to tell the truth to prove his innocence of deception.

Having made this connection, the Riddler spent some of his vast fortune, acquired over many years of crime, to get minor plastic surgery and extensive tattooing, covering most of his torso with his trademark question insignia. He returned and killed the codebreaker- who had pieced together his identity but couldn't act on it- then promptly stole a priceless scroll out from under Batman's nose. Since then, the Riddler has spent most of his time either legally amassing a huge fortune or attacking various heroes in order to prove his newfound power. He has apparently lost the desire to plant riddles or clues at his various crime scenes, although he still enjoys riddles in an abstract sense, and will occasionally make subtle references to them in the course of his crimes. After attacking and nearly killing Green Arrow and Arsenal, Riddler once again escaped before the Outsiders arrived to save them.

Riddler later showed up in Infinite Crisis #1, with a group of villains attacking the Gotham City Police Department while the city dealt with the chaos resulting from the finale of Day of Vengeance. He was back in his green suit and talking in riddles, although he was next seen escaping Arkham Asylum during the world-wide supervillain breakout the Society engineered in Villains United: Infinite Crisis Special #1, which took place only days after the prior supernatural disaster. Riddler re-appeared as part of the Society's "Phase Three" attack on Metropolis. He was roundly defeated by the Shining Knight.

The Riddler has a counterpart in the anti-matter universe called the Quizmaster, who is a member of Lex Luthor's Justice Underground.

In Detective Comics #822, The Riddler returns, having spent much of the previous year in a coma due to the one-sided fight against the Knight. He has seemingly reformed, and is now a private consultant on the murder of a wealthy socialite. Hired by the socialite's father, he successfully - with great flamboyance and in front of the media - proves that a photo of Bruce Wayne apparently implicating him in the crime depicts an imposter, and briefly works with Batman to investigate the crime. As a result of his coma, The Riddler has apparently lost his compulsion for riddles, but retains both his intellect and his mammoth ego. Furthermore, he suffered severe memory loss; upon emerging from his coma, he barely remembers his own name. He does not appear to remember that Bruce Wayne and Batman are one and the same, though he does harbor some suspicions of once knowing something about Bruce Wayne.

The Riddler appeared to solve the case with the suicide of the apparent murderer, and quickly took the credit. However, Batman found evidence that the suicide was a setup to divert attention away from the real killer. Eventually, he loses interest in crimefighting — he finds his cases irritatingly simple — and may return to crime.

In Detective Comics #828, Riddler is a guest along with Bruce Wayne on board a ship during a party. During the party, an old friend of Bruce's falls overboard and is mauled to death by sharks. Bruce suspects foul play, and eventually tracks down the killer, who Riddler was also close to catching, before Nigma was bludgeoned over the head by a shark-tooth club. The killer pushes Batman out the window, and is about to drop him to his death, when Nigma wraps his tie around an arrow, lights it on fire, and shoots it into the killer's back. As the man rolls around screaming, Nigma taunts him, refusing to douse the flames. Batman extinguishes the flame, and responds to Nigma's assertion that they're now allies with hostile dismissal. Nigma also asks Batman if the shark mauling victim was someone he knew. Batman denies it and leaves.

The blow Riddler receives to his head, followed by his subsequent questioning of Batman's relationship with the deceased has led some to speculate that he may be regaining his memories.

Names and variations

Many adaptations of the Batman mythos have given the Riddler the real name Edward Nigma (or Nygma) or E. Nigma. Occasionally his full name has been given as Edward E. Nigma. Some have depicted this as a false name and his real name as Edward Nashton, who legally changed his name to Edward Nygma. ("E. Nigma" = enigma)

In the French and Quebecois translations of various Batman titles, his nom de plume has been translated to Le Sphinx referencing the riddle-posing monster of Greek mythology that Oedipus confronted. Sometimes, he's also known as L'Homme-Mystère, which means "the Mystery Man" in French.

In Germany, the villain has been called Mr. Sphinx, as well as Der Rätselknacker (which is a strange translation, because a 'Rätselknacker' in german would be the man to unravel a riddle).

In Italy he is called Enigmista, the literal translation of "Riddler". Similarly the character's Finnish name, Arvuuttaja, is also a literal translation.

In Mexico and Latin America, the Riddler is known as El Acertijo, which literally means "The Riddle". In Brazil, the character is named Charada, which also means "Riddle".

In Brazil, the Riddler is called Charada, Portuguese translation of "charade".

In Spain, the Riddler is known as "Enigma"

In Denmark, the Riddler is known as Gækkeren, which, loosely translated, is a person, who plays tricks on others, though not necessarily through the use of riddles.

In Sweden, the Riddler has been known as Gåtan, which is Swedish for "the riddle", and sometimes Gåtmannen (=Riddle Man).

In Russia, he is called Ребус (Russian for Rebus). In some translations, the Riddler is also called Человек-загадка (Chelovek-zagadka; literally, "the Mystery Man").

Other media

Live Action

1960s Batman

See: The Riddler (Frank Gorshin) Gorshin also portrayed the Riddler in Legends of the Superheroes in 1979.

John Astin played Riddler in two episodes.

The Riddler's name of Edward Nashton/Nigma was never revealed in the 1960s Batman series.

Batman Forever

See: The Riddler (Jim Carrey)

The Dark Knight

Originally The Riddler was going to be the main villian in the Dark Knight before Nolan decided to have the Joker as the main villain instead. Through marketing for the film, it was revealed Edward Nashton lived in the film's universe, and had written to a newspaper.

The Dark Knight Sequel/Batman 3

Nolan is putting consideration for the Riddler to be the main villain of the sequel to the Dark Knight, those who have interest in the role is Doctor Who actor David Tennant and Johnny Depp, it is fan rumor that Johnny Depp will play the role. This rumor is a highly unlikely accusation as since neither Nolan brother has stated that they have started casting let alone writing Batman 3, and the rumor comes from the tabloid newspaper "The National Enquirer".

Animation

Superfriends

The Riddler had his first turn in animated form in the Filmation Batman installments first seen on "CBS Saturday Morning" in 1968 as part of The Batman/Superman Hour with a James Cagney type accent. While he didn't appear in The New Adventures Of Batman, he is shown briefly in the opening theme.

He later appeared in Hanna-Barbera's Challenge Of The SuperFriends as a member of the Legion of Doom. Playing off the Gorshin model, this Riddler is a hyperactive lunatic whose contrived riddles baffle all but Batman and Robin. He was voiced by Michael Bell.

He made his only solo appearance in a Superfriend short episode, "Around The World In 80 Riddles", where he sprays Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman and Robin with a chemical to reduce their intelligence to that of two year olds.

Batman: The Animated Series

See: The Riddler (BTAS)

The Batman

See: The Riddler (The Batman)

Video games

The Riddler has also appeared in several video games based on Batman. He was a boss in Batman: The Animated Series, The Adventures of Batman & Robin for the SNES, The Adventures of Batman & Robin for the Sega Genesis, The Adventures of Batman & Robin for the Sega CD and various video game adaptations of Batman Forever. The SNES game had Riddler re-using the Riddle of the Minotaur Maze from "If You're So Smart, Why Aren't You Rich?" (But this time with the Gordons as hostages) and the chess board from "What Is Reality?". In the Sega CD game, which had fully-animated cut scenes, John Glover reprised his role as the Riddler.

He is mentioned by the JLA's Watchtower recorder in Justice League Heroes. The message, sent to Batman, is "Just now, a toy sells death".

Toys

Riddler has made several appearances as an action figure as part of Hasbro's Batman: The Animated Series and Legends of Batman lines, Mattel's The Batman line, and Art Asylum's minimates line. He has also been produced as a Heroclix.

The Riddler is one of the rarest of Mattel's Super Powers Collection line. He is a repainted Green Lantern figure that was only released in South America. He was also part of the line of action figures The World's Greatest SuperHeroes.

See also

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