"Questions That Begin with a Queue"
Writer: Dan Slott/Ty Templeton
Artists: Rick Burchett(p), Terry Beatty(i), Lee Louridge/Zylonol(c)
One of life's little ironies is that Frank Gorshin essayed the most chilling version of the Riddler on the Adam West Batman television series. Sure, he giggled like mad, but if you ever doubted the threat in his titter, Gorshin would stop in mid-fit and clip his voice to the cold chill of a murderous psychopath; though it would be some years later when I learned exactly what that meant.
Ty Templeton and Dan Slott in Batman Adventures do not even try to make the animated version lethal, and quite honestly I doubt any comic book version of the character will ever match Gorshin's perfect performance. What Templeton and Slott do however is make the Riddler fit in with the dark deco of that which is based on the animated series.
Wry, genius, slightly disturbed, extremely bored; these are the words that describe the Riddler. Templeton and Slott make the Riddler a sympathetic, flamboyant figure. You see his point. His skill at creating puzzles demands an equal. That equal is Batman.
While understanding the Riddler's needs, the authors also comprehend the dangers in sicking Batman on a charismatic and by comparison to the Joker or Killer Croc harmless kook. The Riddler does not need money since he's become rich off the patents from his inventions. He has no blood lust. His only real problem is that he's nearly smarter than everybody else.
Mr. Templeton in the first story deftly side-steps the potential of making Batman appear to be a bully but still keeps the hero mostly serious. On some level Batman must enjoy the games he plays against the Riddler. The Riddler however has reformed, and the games now have no meaning for Batman. Riddler must stay out of Arkham and still find a means to attract Batman's attention. This is not necessarily a wise thing to do. Fortunately for the Riddler, the Batman seen in Batman Adventures is the sane version. Rick Burchett takes advantage of the suspense in the turning of the page to reveal after building up the visual drama a genuinely laugh out loud funny release
Dan Slott's back-up story characterizes the Riddler's intelligence, sense of whimsy and gamesmanship in five pages. I'd like to see a continuity book do that. He also shows what threatens the Riddler's freedom is the ordinary. Mr. Burchett captures the mundane annoyances of life that induce sweaty emotion and fidgety impatience within an economy of panels.
Ultimately, The Riddler's high regard for Batman is what saves him from a return visit to Arkham. Hopefully he'll stay away from the asylum because the Riddler actually makes for a better protagonist than villain.
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