Posts tagged ‘Riddler’

Detective Annual 11 – Azrael causes problems, the Riddler goes for an old standard, and Oracle teams with Looker

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There are three stories in Detective Annual 11 (2009), the first, which is also the longest, being a continuation of a story from this year’s Batman Annual.

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The story, by Fabian Nicieza and Tom Mandrake, deals with another secret society, this one out to raise a demonic spirit through the seven deadly sins, and the sacrifice of children descended from earlier cult members.

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Batman and the Question work on it together from their side.  Azrael has his own agenda, and Robin has gone in disguise as one of the children, and already been kidnapped.  Renee does not take long to realize that it is Nightwing now wearing the Batman costume.

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Azrael learns that the sacrifice depends on the children being of the blood of the earlier ones, which of course means that, should Robin get sacrificed, the spell will not work.

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Damian does break free, and his identity as Robin is exposed.  The evil cultists try to lure him back.  I’m not sure that sending an aggressively naked older woman is the best way to lure a 10 year old boy, even if it’s Damian.

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But it’s Azrael to the rescue anyway, and he joins with Robin as they take down the cultists, in a manner as overtly violent as only Damian and an Azrael can be.

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Batman and the Question are rushing to the scene.  The cultists are in a penthouse, and the story gets a moment of levity as Batman sends Renee up to the roof quickly.

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Frankly, this story failed to grab me, even with Mandrake’s art.   I do like Harvey Bullock’s crude way of explaining how he knew Renee was the Question, and there are some other good moments.

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The story ends with both the villains and the heroes angry with Azrael.  I have never liked any version of that character, which probably explains why I don’t care for a long story featuring him.

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There is a very cute 2-page “L’il Gotham” story, by Derek Fridolfs and Dustin Nguyen.  Not much in the way of plot, the Riddler does a variant of the St. Ives riddle song, though calling it Poison Ives.  A staggering amount of cameos in this, for only being two pages.  Catwoman, Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, Commissioner Gordon, Batman, Batwoman, Nightwing, Robin, Batgirl, as well as the Penguin, Mr. Freeze, Two-Face, Clayface, Mad Hatter, Joker, Scarecrow, Black Mask, Croc, Hush, Ra’s Al Ghul, and even the original Ventriloquist, Arnold Wesker, with Scarface.

Of the three stories in this issue, it’s sad that I enjoyed this 2 page piece more than the others.

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The final story in the issue, by Amanda McMurray and Kelly Jones, features a team-up between Oracle and Looker.

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There is a bad guy who thinks he is a vampire, but isn’t, and who is obsessed with Barbara Gordon, though we never find out why.  Looker is unaware that Barbara is Oracle, and is kept in the dark. Looker has become a vampire herself during her time with the Outsiders, so she is the perfect one to take down a faker.

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The ending of the story leaves more questions than answers, and was clearly intended to be followed up.  As far as I know, it never was.

 

 

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Detective 853 – the concluding half of “Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?”

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Detective 853 (April 2009) has the second half of Neil Gaiman’s “Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?”, with art by Andy Kubert.  The story is a thematic sister to Alan Moore’s “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?”, and exists sort of on its own, as a two-part story outside normal continuity, but also fits neatly into what is currently occurring with Batman.  The first half was published in the previous issue of Batman.

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As with the first half, the story is set at Batman’s funeral, with friends and enemies in attendance.  While the first issue gave a lot of time to a couple of stories, this issue give a number of characters a brief opportunity to tell their versions of how Batman died.

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As well as Betty Kane, shown in the original Bat-Girl outfit for the first time since 1978, eulogies are given by the Mad Hatter, the Joker, Dick Grayson, when he was still Robin, Clayface, Harvey Bullock and Ra’s Al Ghul.

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Superman’s speech ends this section, as Batman starts to become aware of what is happening.

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He suspects that he is having a near-death experience, and the voice that has been with him throughout this,now identified as his mother, tells him that this is true.

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The story becomes a meditation on what Batman is, what he stands for.  Batman cannot ever simply retire and live happily ever after.  He is about never giving up, so Batman can only die in action.

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He asks if he is going to heaven or hell, but the woman replies neither. He does not get those options.  He gets to be Batman, that’s enough.  As the story reaches it end, it takes on the Goodnight Moon narrative, as batman bids good-bye to the cave and the car.  Robin, Alfred, Commissioner Gordon and his villains – Joker, Catwoman, Riddler, Two-Face, Penguin, Ra’s Al Ghul and Poison Ivy shown.  The art mixes past and present versions, creating an eternal Batman.

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And it ends as Martha Wayne gives birth to Bruce.  His death takes him back to his birth, and the cycle begins again.

It serves as a reflection on a character that can never be killed off, in a medium that is so easy to re-read.  Endings launch beginnings, and everything comes around eventually.

Detective 845 – the chat room

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Dini, Nguyen and Fridolfs conspire on a decent mystery in Detective 845 (Aug. 08).

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There appears to be a new serial killer in town, after a number of apparently random murders. Batman is on the case, and so is the Riddler, who proclaims publicly that he will bring the killer in.

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Batman has a brief scene with Catwoman.  This follows her return to Earth after events in Salvation Run, and her own comic.  He tries to enlist her help against the serial killer, but she is more interested in finding out about his romances with Zatanna and Jezebel Jet (who has been appearing in the pages of Batman).  She dramatically takes off, and Batman knows she wants him to follow her.  But tonight he has other concerns.

Not a great appearance for Catwoman, frankly. She comes off as jealous and childish.

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But the scene is followed by a really wonderful one, as Batman goes on the net and discusses the case with others.  Although the various people talking have no idea who the others are, we see that the conversation includes Bruce, the Riddler, Oracle and Detective Chimp.

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The solution is actually quite sad. It was all a trap for the Riddler, laid by the widower of one of his victims.  The first victim had been his psychiatrist, who could have informed the police.  The rest were random, with clues designed to draw the Riddler to where he could be killed.  Batman intervenes, but has more sympathy for the killer than for the Riddler.

Detective 837 – Harley Quinn and the Riddler, crime fighters

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Dini, Kramer and Faucher give centre stage to the Riddler and Harley Quinn in Detective 837 (Dec. 2007), a tie-in to the Countdown weekly miniseries.

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Edward Nigma’s agency is not doing as well as he had hoped, but things look to be turning around when Bruce Wayne comes to him with a case.  One of his employees has gone missing, along with an experimental serum, and Bruce offers the Riddler a hefty sum to retrieve it, and find the woman.

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The Riddler tracks her to Athena’s spa, a centre for the empowerment of women, which has become home to Harley Quinn, as seen in Countdown.

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Harley relates the circumstances that saw her leave the Secret Six, something that occurred between their miniseries and ongoing book.  Harley, along with Deadshot, Cat-Man, Scandal Savage, Knockout and Rag Doll, had been hired to protect an ambassador’s daughter during a parade.  Instead, Harley and Rag Doll got into a fight, which distracted everyone enough for kidnappers to steal the girl.  Harley got fired.

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Holly Robinson, Catwoman’s sidekick, is also at the spa, as per Countdown, and joins the Riddler and Harley as they deal with the thief, who injects herself with the serum to take them down. It does not have the desired effect.

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The Riddler retrieves the rest of the serum, returning it to Bruce Wayne.  We learn that he hired the Riddler and paid him well, simply to keep him content as a detective, and less likely to return to crime.

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The story ends as Athena turns over vial of the serum, extracted from the thief’s blood, to DeSaad.

Harley, Holly and Athena and her spa continue their storyline in Countdown.

Detective 828 – Batman and the Riddler on the case

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Dini, Kramer and Faucher return on Detective 828 (April 2007), as the Batman and Riddler work on the same case.

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Matthew Akins, Bruce’s friend from the first story of Dini’s run, returns in this tale, running into Bruce Wayne at a costume party aboard a yacht.  Bruce was dressed as Zorro, but dramatically unmasked by the Riddler.  Matthew winds up falling overboard, dying apparently after being eaten by sharks.  But both Batman, and the Riddler, suspect there is more to it.

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Looking into Matthew’s past, and his sudden flush of cash that made Bruce suspicious of him in the earlier tale, Batman finds clues that lead to the museum, where he had recently been working.  Batman discovers the Riddler already three, and unconscious, on the same trail he is.

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Oh, and Batman finds the killer as well.

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The Riddler revives, while Batman is on the ropes, and to everyone’s surprise he stands his ground and defeats the costumed villain.

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Batman solves the rest of the case, how Matthew’s girlfriend, who worked at the museum, had been using him to sell off antiques.  But greed spelled the end for the poor guy.  The Riddler offers to share the credit with Batman, who has a number of good reasons to refuse.  But the offer, following the heroics during the fight, pretty much show the Riddler to be one of the good guys now.

Detective 824 – The Penguin victimized

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The Penguin re-opens the Iceberg Lounge in Detective 824 (Dec. 06), by Dini, Kramer and Faucher.

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Batman pays him a visit, and the Penguin insists he is on the side of the angels, but still doesn’t want him anywhere around.  However, the Penguin did invite Bruce Wayne to his big opening gala that night.  Lois Lane is there, covering it for the Planet, and winding up getting a scoop from Wayne’s drunken starlet date.  The Riddler also shows up, a respectable entrepreneur himself now.

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The Penguin winds up the victim of the night, as some gamblers, in league with a crooked magician, are fixing a game and taking the casino for thousands.  Bruce calls Zatanna for a bit of help on the case.  Their relationship is shown as friendly and casual, which is surprising considering this is Batman.  Dini will expand on the history between these two later in his run.

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In the end, Batman winds up saving the Penguin from ruin, as he returns the money the crooks took him for.  He’s not happy about it, but the money belongs to the Penguin more than anyone else.

 

Detective 822 – The Riddler becomes a detective

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The Riddler switches teams in Detective 822 (Oct. 06), by Paul Dini, Don Kramer and Wayne Faucher.

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Bruce Wayne gets implicated in a murder investigation, and the Riddler is on the scene as well, hired by the secretary of the victim.  He is playing to cameras, but sincerely seems to be doing his best to solve the case. He has shed his old persona (although not the outfit), and decided to use his wondrous brain for the common good.  And for fame and fortune, the legitimate way.

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The police are embarrassed.  Bruce Wayne was never a serious suspect, they just needed information about a photograph he appeared in – which turned out to be of a double.

Batman allows the Riddler to join him as he works on the case.  He does not seem to either really trust or distrust Nigma, but keeping him close seems to be the wisest bet.

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Nigma makes big press solving the case, but Batman sees that he has merely found the solution the actual murderer intended him to find.  Batman confronts the secretary, and explains her intricate murder plot.

But the Riddler still gains fame, and respectability, even though his solution was wrong.  Edward Nigma continues to be a supporting player in Dini’s run.

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