Batman Prelude to the Wedding: Batgirl vs. the Riddler #1 – Tim Seeley, Writer; Minkyl Jung, Penciller; Jose Marzan Jr., Inker; Otto Schmidt, Backup Artist; Jordie Bellaire, Colorist
Ray – 6/10
Corrina: Decent Story
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW
Ray: The Batman Prelude to the Wedding issues hit the midway point, and thus far the one thing they have in common is that they’re all very weird. The Damian one was the best of the lot due to its emotional truth, and then the Nightwing one devolved into surreal cosmic horror. This is an odd concept to begin with since both Batgirl and Riddler have no real involvement in the wedding. Batgirl is one of the few Bat-family members who aren’t part of the Wayne family, and Riddler is one of Batman’s villains with less of a personal stake against him. The concept that knits this issue together, then, is rather thin and a flawed take on Riddler. It seems he’s found out that Batman and Catwoman are getting married – which continues to puzzle me, as two costumed identities can’t get married. They’re not actually people. There’s no legal significance to that. This has caused him to reflect on his own lack of companionship, and make a move on one of the only women in the world who he thinks can match up with him intellectually – Batgirl.
So yeah, that’s a really creepy concept. Batgirl is what, 21? Riddler is much older, and his attraction to her comes out of nowhere.
Not to mention, his courting methods are, as you might expect, less than ideal. He’s kidnapped four people, setting each of them up in creative deathtraps and leading her to solve his riddles. I liked little touches in the issue, such as the senior citizen lesbian couple that Batgirl helps when one of them gets kidnapped. How often do we see LGBT characters over 35 in media at all, even in cameos? However, the issue as a whole is almost completely overwhelmed by Riddler’s creepy narration, right down to essentially calling himself a sapiosexual. If I wanted to hear would-be supervillains elaborate on their incel propaganda, I would visit Reddit. Batgirl is effective and gets off a few good lines, but overall the issue falls flat. Riddler under Dini was a charming wild card. Under Snyder, he was a terrifying force of nature. Here, he’s just a sad joke.
Corrina: Before I complain, I feel like I’ve given Seeley the short end of the stick in these reviews, primarily because he’s not responsible for story problems that are beyond his control. When the last two issues stuck to the characters, they were good reads.
And when Batgirl Vs. Riddler sticks to the focus on Batgirl solving the four kidnappings, it’s also a good read.
Unfortunately, like the Nightwing prelude, this issue features a villain that’s an odd match for the hero and, in Batgirl’s case, a super-creepy take on Riddler. I kinda hate villains who have a sexual obsession with heroines, because that’s such low-hanging fruit, and that panel with Batgirl being strangled just…well…it seemed vile and unnecessary. To be fair, I disliked Tom King’s murderous and sociopathic take on the Riddler too.
As for the outside elements that cause problems, again, I protest: what the heck is Bruce doing with a public Batman/Catwoman marriage? Okay, it’s not public but all the villains know, which is just dumb, and it means this mayhem before the wedding is all Bruce’s fault. Maybe it’s some elaborate plan to gather all the villains together and take them out. But even so, the body count, in civilians killed or terrorized, is going to be in the double, if not triple, digits, once this is over.
This does not put me in the mood for a wedding.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.