Tom King and Mitch Gerads team up again and deliver a gripping tale of a young man named Edward Nygma who evolves into the Riddler. Riddler is a man who is no longer at the mercy of others. He instead has transformed into a man in total control of not only his own life but the lives of complete strangers. As a perspicacious teenager, living to please his father, an abusive and relentless man whose expectations could never be met, Riddler challenged himself.
He continually learned new languages and excelled in school. To his father, who doubled as his headmaster, he would never be good enough and was constantly reminded that he was simply the “son of a whore.” Edward also had a teacher who loved to push his students and the boundaries of their minds past their limit. To do so, he used riddles, claiming that anyone could regurgitate information, but it took an intelligent person to solve a riddle. Little did anyone know; these riddles would change Edward’s life forever.
The skill and detail in the illustration of the comic are delivered to us by Mitch Gerads. His talent does not overshadow King, however, it reinforces the depiction of this sadistic and depraved tale of the Riddler. The artwork in this comic leaves a lasting face of desperation from a young Edward who would constantly be punished for falling short of his father’s expectation time and time again. Traveling to the present-day sadism of a twisted adult Edward, now known as Riddler- a murderer, killing with no cause, no concern, and no remorse.
King’s words go hand in hand with Gerads illustration, bringing about heart-wrenching emotions. He flashes back to Edward’s younger days as a people pleaser who would never get the recognition or love from his father that he so desperately craved, but also as an adult. King reveals how Edward’s father’s rejection and his teachers’ provocation would collide to create a damaged Riddler.
King brings to life these emotions in how Riddler interacts with everyone and in his actions throughout the very first murder he performs. Although, unlike his first murder, Riddler turns into a sadistic killer who does so only to fill a void and try to finally prove he is worthy of the attention he always wanted.
This is one of eight comics in DC’s Batman villain origin stories- remember, there are always two sides to every story.