Villains Month is just around the corner. During the month of September, all of the New 52 titles will be taken over, in a sense, by the villains of the DCU. All current series will sort of be put on hold as the villains step up to take the spotlight.
One of those spotlight book will feature the Riddler. BATMAN 23.2 will be written by Scott Snyder and Ray Fawkes. Snyder is currently writing Zero Year in the BATMAN title which, besides showing us a younger Bruce Wayne, is also showing us the Riddler in his early days.
We asked Ray a few questions to see how the Riddler story in the Villains Month issue will tie into Zero Year.
Comic Vine: Will the story take place in the present or be a flashback to Zero Year? Or both?
Ray Fawkes: This story takes place in the present, but we'll see some flashbacks to Zero Year. I don't want to give anything away, so that's all I'll say about that!
CV: Will this issue give away any spoilers for Edward's role in Zero Year?
RF: Not spoilers, per se, but it will give additional perspective on his role, and the way the ordinary citizens of Gotham see him. Let's say that he earns his reputation in Zero Year, and we see him flex it in this story. When we sat down to write this, Scott Snyder and I had a lot of discussions about what the Riddler got up to in Zero Year, and why people would really fear him after that. The product of those discussions will be on full display in Villains Month.
CV: What do you see as Edward's motivation?
RF: That's complicated. Personally, I think Edward is frustrated by a combination of the ordinary world's inability to challenge his intellect and its ongoing inability to pay him the respect he thinks he deserves. So he has this urge to act up, to play these "games" in hopes that someone will face off against him and allow him to prove his superiority. Further to that, he adds layers to the game to keep himself entertained - anyone can commit an ordinary crime. Only he can commit one that he enjoys.
CV: Edward has often been portrayed as a brilliant character (and sometimes a little silly). Will we see what drove him down a darker path rather than a more heroic one?
RF: The Riddler's origin is handled completely in Zero Year. This story is more one where we get to see the full extent of Edward's criminal tendencies, and the effect that years of failure and incarceration after the end of Zero Year have had on him. Let's say this: he didn't get any better in Arkham. And he had a lot of time to sit and think about what he wanted to do when he got out...
CV: Are there any hints of the Secret Society of Super Villains present or does Riddler prefer to play by himself?
RF: The Riddler doesn't play very well with others. Not at all. I'm sure that the Secret Society could figure out how to motivate him, but nobody's found the right approach yet - so he's a free agent in this story, carrying out the elaborate crimes that he planned so meticulously in his asylum cell. Of course, nothing goes exactly as planned...
CV: How would you compare Edward's intellect to someone like Lex Luthor?
RF: Honestly, I'd say that Edward is incredibly talented, and may well be the world's foremost thinker with regards to pattern recognition, strategy, and complicated mathematics - but he's not an inventor or a theoretical scientist, so comparing him to someone like Lex is a bit of an apples-and-oranges question. If not for Batman, Edward would be the very best there is at what he does.
That said, I think if you put Edward and Lex in a room, with no equipment and no advance warning and had them face off in competition, I'd put my money on The Riddler.
CV: How good are you at solving riddles?
RF: Not bad, actually. I regularly do cryptic crosswords for fun - I have ever since I found out that they were used in recruitment interviews in England's famed Bletchley Park WWII codebreakers program - and I had a blast writing up (hopefully) difficult riddles and puzzles for this book!
Be sure to pick up BATMAN #23.2 on September 11, 2013.