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Batman: The Animated Series' Brilliant (And Underutilized) Villain Revamp

Unfortunately for Nygma, his past has a way of catching up with him. His business meeting is interrupted by more Society of Shadows assassins. As established in the previous issue, they're carrying out hits on established members of Batman's rogues gallery, for mysterious reasons.

Riddler uses his advanced tech to interrupt Gotham's airwaves and demand Batman's help. But, because he is the Riddler, he can't do this like any other schmoe. Even his frantic request for help must be formed as riddles.

Bruce Wayne (accompanied by the mysteriously ailing Alfred) is on a date with Julie Madison, who makes her DCAU debut, when the message is broadcast during a basketball game. Templeton quickly establishes the ongoing continuity. Julie's charmed Bruce, as evidenced by this extremely rare third date. Penguin is the mayor, with seemingly growing public support. (Bruce's stunned Julie voted for him. Later, Julie's irritated their date's cut short.) And Batman risks his own safety rescuing Riddler, thanks to the GCPD's orders to take him in.

Ultimately, Batman and Riddler team up to stop the assassins. No answers to the mysteries are revealed, but the closing sequence offers a memorable insight into the Riddler's psychology. When a dummy wearing his suit jacket is "riddled with bullets," he recognizes this would've been the perfect way for him to die. His response? To attack Batman for saving him!

We discover Riddler's no "free man." Templeton often explores this idea in his work -- Nygma's refusal to accept his brilliance might also be inextricably linked to insanity. That he truly is no better than any other Arkham inmate.

THE WRAP -UP

DESIGN-Y

Although the animation quality in his debut isn't the best, Riddler's initial Batman design is an appropriately classy representation of the character. His later redesign for his cameo appearances in The New Batman Adventures with the shaved head and neon unitard...that one's less popular. In the relaunched Batman Adventures, we see Riddler with hair again (although his hairline's now receding) and a suit closer to his original outfit. I'd personally name it his best design. Unfortunately, it never made an animated appearance.

HEY, I KNOW THAT VOICE

Veteran character actor John Glover voices the Riddler. Previously, he was perhaps best known for playing a Donald Trump parody in Gremlins II. He'd later appear as Jason Woodrue in 1997's Batman & Robin and as Lex Luthor's father on Smallville.

The Riddler

WHY IS A RAVEN LIKE A WRITING DESK?

It's a true shame the Riddler doesn't have more "official" appearances in the DCAU. Not only does John Glover deliver a believably arrogant, yet at times vulnerable, performance, but the show's take on the character is great. Ego motivates him more than anything, so a simple bank robbery isn't something he cares that much about. Proving he's smarter than Batman, however, gives him a reason to live.

While "If You're..." is visually lacking, and the middle drags, it remains a standout episode. For one, it's perhaps the most memorable title of the show's run. Thenthe script closes out with what could be Batman's greatest exit line.

RELATED: Batman's Road Runner Issue May Be the Key to Surviving His Knightmares

All told, Riddler ends up with only a handful of credible animated appearances. (And the less said about his generic New Adventures cameos, the better.) But if you're a fan of the character, you owe it to yourself to check out his Adventures stories. Especially this relaunched volume, where he plays a pivotal role in many events. Too hard to write? Well, the tie-in guys just kept proving that wrong.

So that’s all for now. If you have any suggestions for the future, just leave a comment or contact me on Twitter. You can also check out some of my fiction writing for free over at Smashwords.

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