DCAU #357: Notes

IN THIS ONE... The Batman Family follows musical clues to the Riddler's hide-out.

CREDITS: Written by Scott Peterson; art by Tim Levins and Terry Beatty.

REVIEW: As you know by now, I'm not a huge fan of Riddler stories, but I do appreciate it when they're done well. Notes had me rolling my eyes as per usual, at least at first, and I really didn't think it would work. See, all the good clues are in a musical score played behind the verbal clues, and you just can't hear that on the page. So by the time someone tells you the clue, they've already figured it out, and the reader (as is often the case in Riddler stories) can't possibly follow along. Even Batman discounts the musical clues because he's so used to being in a music-less medium. But of course, as soon as Robin says they should ask Nightwing, the reader knows the music is crucial.

And Batman eventually does bring him in to consult once it's apparent Dick has skills and knowledge he himself has neglected. The way Nightwing describes the musical clues, you'd need a musicology degree to really "hear" them, but I do give Peterson a lot of credit for designing the mystery. It's quite clever. And there's a great moment where Dick expects Batman has already figured this out, and the Bat gives him the most understated of compliments. As it turns out, the musical clues weren't even from the Riddler, but from his kidnapped musician. I like the idea that a victim has agency like that, and that he and Nightwing have a certain kinship, but it's not great for the Riddler who goes on and on about Batman being his only intellectual "match" when there are two other men in the room who could lay that same claim.

Nigma is, in fact, something of a clown in this, and not just because his victim gives out more impressive clues than he does. To hide in plain sight, as it were, he's using one of the Joker's old hide-outs, and when his henchmen find out he didn't ask permission, they all get the Fear and surrender lest the Clown Prince of Crime find out about their involvement. It's amusing if a little awkward in the context of everything else that's going on, but it seems the Riddler is all about underestimating people.
REREADABILITY: Medium-High - It really shouldn't work, but it kind of does, and I'm giving it points for being gutsy enough to try.

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