WARNING: The following contains spoilers for The Riddler: Year of the Villain #1, from Mark Russell, Scott Godlewski, Marissa Louise and Travis Lanham, on sale now.
When Lex Luthor disbursed gifts to his fellow crooks in DC's Year of the Villain, several notable Bat-rogues were given offers to upgrade their arsenal. Black Mask became a shapeshifter, while Ra's al Ghul was also given a mysterious present for his legion, although Joker spurned the offer as he fell out with the Legion of Doom.
One major omission, however, has been the Riddler. Though, courtesy of his very own one-shot, it appears that Lex has actually done him a favor. That's because Lex isn't about offering him the easy way out, the Apex Predator instead has helped Riddler kill his unsuccessful past leading to a rebirth for the villain -- one both of them hope will reign chaos and destruction down in the future like never before.
This book finds Riddler angry he was passed over by Lex, thinking he's unworthy to roll with his fellow criminals. He's venting to Tut, who decides to help him get over this depression by laying one more trap for the Bat. However, it all comes to naught when Riddler walks out during a fight with Batman and Tut, frustrated at failure. Edward Nygma decides it's time for a change and escapes while the Dark Knight fights Tut. As for the reason for his actions, well, his flashbacks with Lex put everything into context.
We see Lex explaining why he rejected Riddler as an option and it's all due to evolution. He doesn't respect him because Riddler hasn't shown growth -- he's just a kid playing games and not capitalizing on his potential. Riddler's bitter at first but when he looks back at petty crime through robberies and trafficking, he understands he's wasted his career and gone soft as he simply thinks he's still that miserable kid who got bullied. Lex wants hardened, seasoned fiends, not petulant children, and this ultimately leaves Ridder with a lesson he desperately needed. And when the dust clears, he's grateful for "the gift of nothing."
During this epiphany, he leaves his green suit and hat behind, shedding the look he's had since the New 52 which had a more hipster, sleek costume with the question mark engraved into his chest. Lex tells him it's time to think bigger and make that icon mean more, inflicting fear and terror. However, for this to happen, that signature has to die and so, Ed retires that iteration of the Riddler.
The twist, though, is in the Justice League title from Scott Snyder we do see him in a classic costume with his mask, so it's clear in between this issue and that shot of Lex lecturing his cabal, the evolution they both spoke of happened.
Seeing Riddler in his classic mob costume is really interesting because we don't know what motions he went through since he left the suit behind, but we're certain we'll soon find out how this gap was filled. Lex's gift isn't a physical one or a power-up, it's a mental upgrade; a philosophy Ed badly needed to embrace again to become the cold-blooded mastermind he knows he can be to take out the Caped Crusader.
He knows the likes of Joker and Ra's will be gunning for the Bat at some point, so Riddler wants to level-up so he can finally be considered an A-lister and perhaps be the one to put this notch on his belt.
Tom King's Batman run hinted Riddler could make this step-up so all Lex wanted was for him to stop being a brat, and it appears he's finally taken the advice: this rebirth equipping him with the mindset to prove just that to all his doubters.