DCAU #64: The Last Riddler Story

IN THIS ONE... The Riddler vows to retire if Batman solves his next riddle. First appearances of Mastermind, Mister Nice and the Perfesser.

CREDITS: Written by Kelley Puckett; art by Mike Parobeck and Rick Burchett.

REVIEW: The first good Riddler story of the DCAU, even though he shares the page with other villains, The Last Riddler Story doesn't focus on the riddles themselves (which has been the other Riddler stories' main weakness), but on the duel of wits going on between Edward Nygma and the Batman, a duel the latter doesn't even really acknowledge. The comic twist, with Batman capturing the Riddler not because he solved his last riddle, but because everyone was going for the target and he was pursuing and entirely different crook, is sublime. It keeps Riddler in the game, but still has Batman defeat him.

The Riddler is contrasted by other criminal masterminds, created for this issue, who have similar obsessions. All of them are really defeated by their own ridiculous pathology. Nice inventions too! Mastermind plans everything to a "t", even his own capture (he brought the handcuffs). Mister Nice simply can't leave on bad terms with his victims, donating half his stolen money to armored car guards' families. And the Perfesser wastes all his time schooling his henchman on the history of security systems in Gotham and grading his fight moves against Batman. All three offer fine comedic moments and I'm glad to know they appear again, about every 10 issues or so. But the Riddler's own team offers plenty of laughs too. His henchmen are obviously modeled on the four Three Stooges and have some fun lines. It's sweet how dedicated they are to their boss, bringing him a parole cake and shedding tears at his many defeats.

Lots of joy besides. A Riddlery question mark appearing above the confounded Batman's head. His cool target practice with the batarangs. The judge trying to knock the Riddler upside the head with his gavel for being too happy at his trial. Parobeck really shines when the book goes for comedy.
IN THE MAINSTREAM COMICS: The Challengers of the Unknown had a villain called Mastermind who also wore distinctive glasses. This story's Mastermind could be based on him or could be an original character, like his pals Mister Nice and the Perfesser. They will appear a number of times in Adventures comics.

REREADABILITY: High - Very fun. I wish some of the new characters here would make it into an episode.


googum said...

Love it. The scene in the park, where the Riddler asks random passers-by his riddle, then clonks them on the head with his cane when they get it wrong, is my favorite Riddler scene in anything.

I thought you'd mention Mastermind, Mr. Nice, and the Perfessor's "secret identities," or are you saving that for their next appearance?

Siskoid said...

I don't know their secret identities. Presumably, they're secret.

Erich said...

The "secret identities" are never mentioned in the actual comics, because they're kind of an in-joke: They're modeled after Batman creators/editors Mike Carlin, Archie Goodwin, and Denny O'Neil.

After Archie Goodwin's passing, Mr. Nice got a touching send-off in Gotham Adventures #13.


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