Countdown Breakdown #42A column article, Comics Bulletin Soapbox by: John Hays
The Riddler. The Riddler, Edward Nigma, is a classic Batman villain, first appearing back in 1948 in Detective Comics #140. I remember Batman #292 (it actually came out the month that I was born in 1977; I must have gotten it from my cousin years later), where various villains such as the Riddler would take the spotlight for an issue discussing how they had supposedly killed Batman. Of course, after all’s said and done, Batman ended up being in the room with the villains and taking them out. Years later, the animated series would produce a similar episode. It surprised me to find out that the Riddler is now supposedly going straight, so I thought I’d catch up a bit since I last saw him at the end of the Hush storyline.
Well, in the Hush storyline, the Riddler was suffering from cancer and took a dip in the Lazarus pit to heal him. Of course, doing this always has the price of temporary insanity, and during that insanity, Nigma deduced Batman’s secret identity. However, Batman was not worried, since he knew that revealing that secret would ruin the best riddle of all.
Later on, during Infinite Crisis, Nigma was hit on the head by The Shining Knight, and spent much of the next year in a coma. Since that time, Nigma has apparently gone straight and hires himself out as a private investigator.
Clayface. While I’m most familiar with the Matt Hagen Clayface from the animated series, there have, in fact, been many different Clayfaces. Basil Karlo, the original, first appeared WAY back in Detective Comics #40. In those early appearances, Karlo only wore a mask and was normal otherwise.
Matt Hagen was the second Clayface. Not much to note here, other than the fact that he developed a chemical compound based on a mysterious pool that allowed him to shape himself into anything he desired. He died during the Crisis on Infinite Earths.
Preston Payne was the third Clayface. While suffering from hyperpituitarism, he used some of Matt Hagen’s blood to become Clayface. He actually needed to melt other people to survive. He later found medicine to control this but still feels the pain in his mind.
Sondra Fuller was the fourth Clayface. She was transformed by her Kobra leaders, willingly. She can actually copy any powers of whomever she transforms into. She gathered the previous Clayfaces, both living and dead, to form the Mud Pack. While in this group, Sondra and Preston fell in love and had a child named Cassius, the fifth Clayface. Also during this time, Karlo took bits of the other Clayfaces and injected himself, becoming the ultimate Clayface.
The Atom, Ryan Choi. Unfortunately, I have not read any of the current Atom series, so I’m not personally familiar with the character. Call me stubborn, but I just want to see Ray Palmer return. Choi’s Atom is based on a concept by Grant Morrison. Again, I admit to being unfamiliar with specifics, but he doesn’t look all that different to me from the previous incarnation, other than his ethnicity. Choi was apparently a protégé of Ray Palmer, conversing with him through letters from across the globe. When Ray disappeared, Choi moved to Ivy Town and took over Palmer’s job and superhero identity. Choi has had some battles in his series, mainly focusing on a conflict between science and magic. I believe his greatest battles are still to come.
Bart Allen,Trickster, Pied Piper, Mirror Master, Deadshot, Multiplex , Donna Troy, Jason Todd, a Monitor, Mary Marvel, Holly Robinson, Harley Quinn, Karate Kid, and Jimmy Olsen also appear in this issue. You can check out their breakdowns by following the links! Catch you next week!