The Riddler infiltrates Wayne Enterprises with his superior intellect and awesome strategic skills.
Thus far, this may be my favorite Villains Month book. Most of the issues have been origin stories where we delve into the villain's past and find out what made them so darn evil. Because we're already seeing the origin of the Riddler in "Zero Year," this book takes a look at The Riddler as a character. The reader gets inside his head, and while he comes off as an incredibly intelligent character, there's a large element of crazy there as well. Also, don't touch him. That seems to set him off as well.
The reader really gets to know the ins and outs of the Riddler here, and the story itself is paced incredibly well. Writer Ray Fawkes, along with some plotting help from Scott Snyder, have really put together a story that has the reader rooting for the bad guy, even though there's nothing really redeeming about the guy at all. There's just this weird attraction to this character. He's not overly-sadistic, like so many of Batman's other rogues. He's just a bit off his rocker, but the reader will feel some sympathy for him. This really is a stand-out issue for Fawkes as a writer.
This issue has a fantastic art team on it. Artist Jeremy Haun and colorist John Rausch do a bang-up job here. There's some fantastic story telling through art in this issue. Splash pages have real meaning here. In this issue, they feel more like they symbolize the transition between the Acts in the overall arc. Each splash page is a change in tone and a transition in events here. Each of them are beautifully done. Haun and Rausch need to work on more books together.
Fantastic cover from Guillem March. He sets up the scene very well, and yes, while Riddler's cane "coming at ya in 3D" is gimmicky, it still looks awesome.
This issue has a really interesting and satisfying ending. It bookends the opening and although it's not some incredibly thrilling ending, which isn't a diss on the final page at all, it's nice. It makes me wonder about the future of this character and what the Bat-books have in store for him.
One small and very nit-picky problem with this book. It's mentioned that Riddler is a "celebrity criminal," by one of the Wayne Enterprises employees. If he's that well known, then why does security have no problem just letting him waltz right through the front door? People know his face. Better yet, people know that suit, right? Wayne needs to hire some new guards.
BATMAN #23.2: RIDDLER was a big surprise for a few reasons. Obviously, because Scott Snyder had a hand in this issue, it was going to feel more connected to the main series than some of the other Villains Month books, but Fawkes, Haun, and Rausch really turned this into a fantastic one-shot book that really helped define who The Riddler is and what he means to the BATMAN series. This is one of Villains Month books you should pick up, and if you still need a little more persuasion, then check out how spiffy the 3D version of the cover looks.