The Riddler: Year One #1 – Paul Dano, Writer; Stevan Subic, Artist
Ray – 8.5/10
Ray: Following up on the hit movie The Batman, this miniseries delves into the backstory of Edward Nashton, the Riddler—the terrorist villain of the piece. This was a very different version of the character, a digital-era savant who terrorized Gotham with targeted assassinations and deathtraps, ultimately drowning the city in a spiteful last act. And his motivation was all too real—he was an angry young man who resented the hand he had been dealt in life and chose to deal it back to the world. This story turns back the clock to the year before he became a monster. Edward now works at an accounting firm, crunching numbers for an unappreciative boss and manipulative supervisor who takes credit for his work. His only real source of pleasure is a puzzle-solving community he belongs to, but even there he’s too awkward to share his true identity or converse with anyone in depth.
I find the trope of the autistic/savant villain to be pretty problematic, but Dano puts us inside his head effectively and lets us relate to him, if not sympathize with him. When he’s given a new project at work and finds some financial red flags, it becomes clear he’s stumbled upon corruption—only to be stymied at every turn by his boss. Inspired by Batman, who he witnesses dealing out some brutal vigilante justice, he starts investigating himself and soon winds up in way too deep. This is an intriguing story of a character’s descent into self-destructive behavior and vigilantism, but there’s one thing holding me back—this Edward Nashton feels like a troubled, but ultimately well-meaning guy disturbed by corruption and wanting to make a difference. I’m not sure how we get from there to the sadistic terrorist we saw in the movie. Dano might get us there, given that he knows the character inside out and out, but it’ll take some doing.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.