Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Comic Book Reviews: Riddler #1 and Superman: Birthright

Just a heads-up: The Birthright review is in the audio, so if you came looking for my thoughts on why this is the greatest Superman origin story of all time, click the play button and have a listen.

Now, as to the Riddler review, I may as well just say right now that NO one-shot is beating this for me. This is exactly the kind of story I'd want from my favorite villain in the DCU.

Scott Snyder and Ray Fawkes put together an excellent, excellent story that shows what you can do when you take the Riddler seriously.

The story is that Gotham is still in riot mode after the events of Forever Evil #1 and Riddler has fooled a bunch of people to get upset at Wayne Enterprises for an SEC filing against them. I'm not sure how he did that given that this town is going nuts, but it must have been in the early stages.

Riddler has done this because he wanted to insert a distraction while he infiltrates the building, which is the most secure in the entire city. (It's made clear from Riddler's tone that he KNOWS why, but really doesn't care that much.)

The best part of this entire story is the first page, which is a flashback to four years before, when an Arkham guard took his contraband deck of cards. In these four panels, Riddler's narration boxes give five riddles, and you could figure all five out by really looking at the four panels of this page.

If you don't want to spend time thinking about it, though, all five riddles play out during his plan and lead to his ultimate goal in all of this, which is the goal that really defines the character that is Edward Nygma.

Zero Year is addressed only once, and there are no flashbacks to this, but I wouldn't be shocked if Nygma's time in that arc connects back to this story somehow. Can I just say for a moment how badly I want the Riddler to be Ben Affleck's first opponent in his eventual Batman solo movie? Could we get Snyder, Fawkes and Geoff Johns to supervise the writing?

Try to answer these riddles.
Anyway, Jeremy Haun is the artist and he does a great job in his DC artist debut. He's done the penciling and inking for a few books before, but this is his first chance to do lead art and his only chance before he takes over as Batwoman's artist and he does it right.

For the record, I think DC's mandate against character marriage, which caused J.H. Williams and his team to leave Batwoman, is unrealistically stupid, but if the book's new crew fails, it won't be on Haun if this is any indicator. His attention to detail is spot-on and he doesn't draw women characters like hyper-inflated blow-ups with hips that would make the person incapable of putting their legs together, so I'm good.

Oh, and the cover is by Guillem March, who is a mixed bag kind of artist, but he has easily the nicest cover of the Villains books. Between this and his lead artist duties on the Two-Face book, it almost makes me forget the unnatural amount of cheesecake he thrust upon Catwoman's readers in the first couple of issues.

This book got a pretty in-depth review because I really do have a passion for this villain and I love when he's written... and written properly. Strangely, whenever I read him, I always hear Jim Carrey's voice if he had Sean Connery's charisma. Not sure what to do with that.

Anyway, yeah, buy this book if you can find it. (If I hadn't had this book on my pull list, I'd have missed out because it sold out.) Except for maybe Lex Luthor's story, which could actually have a direct impact on Forever Evil, I don't see a book out there more worth your money.

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