When does a killer not kill?

#1 Posted by Ultimate_Riddler (289 posts) - - Show Bio

Like most long running characters from comic that have been around since before most of us were even born, they go through many writers and many transitions as the times change. Sometimes a change or two (or fifty) is needed to make the character relevant, less ridiculous or more threatening for the hero. I often see people suggest Riddler become a cold blooded serial killer in the style of the Zodiac killer or Jigsaw from those deplorable "Saw" films. The odd thing about this is Nigma has been okay with killing someone since his debuted, such as when trying to trap the dark knight and the boy wonder in a place where they would eventually croak, or trapping a man in a puzzle deathtrap that would literally crush him to death. Even the lighthearted and wacky Frank Gorshin Riddler made deathtraps for the dynamic duo, but many people don't seem to think Riddler has the capacity for killing. Maybe they want him to slaughter people by the thousands or something. I don't know.

Fact of the matter is many incarnations of him have been okay with spilling blood, but only when there was a motivation behind. Something tangible, real, maybe even understandable and relatable. Certainly most people would disagree with killing the business man that has stolen your ideas and fired you right after, but you would be hard pressed to find someone that didn't at least want to punch his lights out. Nigma, being the eccentric genius that he is, concocts a plot to get revenge on him. A plot I might add that didn't get enacted until two years later. Yet, somehow, Nigma really isn't a bloodthirsty animal like the rest of Batman's rogues. When he's going to kill someone, there's a reason for it. A motive. Like in a classic murder mystery almost. There are some conflicting stories where Nigma is more or less willing to murder someone, and he oft will blame their death on their own "stupidity", but then that's when I hear other people complain that he shouldn't be violent.

The point with this thread is to ask you, the fans and haters alike, which way you prefer your Riddler. Do you think he should be more homicidal, keep his track record bloodless, or stick to the "motive" angle I covered above? I personally grew up watching the animated series where he tried more than once to ice the Bat and to take revenge on someone that wronged him. I feel Riddler should be one of the few villains that is more about crime as a whole being an art, with murder only being an option he reserves for true enemies. Bonus question: How do you all feel about Riddler cheating? Again, this is something that he has done since his early days and has done even in more recent incarnations. I recall reading a conversation on another site (I believe it was run by from right here on Comicvine) where someone had the idea that Nigma could cheat against anyone OTHER than Batman, a way of "reserving his A game for the world's greatest detective". That sounds about right to me. Perhaps he only cheats against Batman when Batman "cheats". After all, Nigma's games are fair, at least in his own mind.

#2 Posted by stumpy49er (609 posts) - - Show Bio

I think his motives should remain an enigma.

Pun intended!

#3 Posted by akbogert (3218 posts) - - Show Bio

The character Zer0 in Borderlands 2 at some point is asked why that numeral appears above his head, to which he responds that it represented the extent of challenge the foes he has cut down have posed. An assassin by trade, Zer0 is simply in search of someone who is his equal. Any deaths he causes in that search are merely boring collateral.

I get a similar vibe from the Riddler. He's obsessed with his own ego, and will only commit lesser crimes to gain the attention of a truly worthwhile foe. I don't think killing random people particularly serves his interests; it's too easy. He'll put them in harm's way only insomuch as their peril needs to be real if, say, Batman is going to be lured in to rescue them. Death is the penalty for being outsmarted, outwitted, outdone by the Riddler. Simply killing someone proves nothing; they need to have a way out so that when they fail and die he can laugh and say he knew he was the better man.

I think to a large extent whatever sanity remains for Mr. Nigma is dependent on that illusion of superiority. When someone seems to be prevailing against his riddles/traps, cheating is necessary because winning is necessary. And to that end, he could never acknowledge that he has cheated, because that would disqualify the victory he depends on. You mentioned fairness "in his own mind" and that is precisely the point. We see how clearly he's cheating, but it's as if he had a cheating alter ego about which he's oblivious. The cheating is therefore intrinsic to the character, preserving his sense of superiority insomuch as he can never face the reality of his defeat. If he only cheats against Batman, it's merely because he really is smarter than most other people, and Batman's the only one who endangers his assured victory.

#4 Edited by Ultimate_Riddler (289 posts) - - Show Bio

@akbogert: I wish I could "like" a post. That was wonderful. I agree with nearly everything you said and would like to add this; whether he kills or not is secondary to the point that he outsmarted the person. Proved that they don't match up to him. I also think to be taken somewhat more seriously he really does have to be smarter than nearly everyone else, at least when we're talking about deductive reasoning, abstract thinking, wordplay and to a lesser extent plotting ability. He isn't a genius in that he could outdo Reed Richards in general science, or Scarecrow in chemistry, or even Batman in "super-preparedness". Nor could he ever hope to match his IQ against someone whom is a super genius. He doesn't know everything, just a lot, and his ego makes him boast that he is even smarter than that.

#5 Posted by InnerVenom123 (29499 posts) - - Show Bio

Arkham City Riddler is the best Riddler.

And he was creepy as hell and he had traps straight out of SAW but with twice (or whatever multiplier you prefer) the brainpower.

Not that he was extra-bloodthirsty. He wasn't killing babies over the microphone and drinking their blood or something.

But he was threatening. And that's what matters.

#6 Edited by akbogert (3218 posts) - - Show Bio

@akbogert said:

If he only cheats against Batman, it's merely because he really is smarter than most other people, and Batman's the only one who endangers his assured victory.

@Ultimate_Riddler said:

@akbogert: I also think to be taken somewhat more seriously he really does have to be smarter than nearly everyone else,

Sounds like we're agreed, then ^_^

Also, not sure why you took out the second half of your comment, but I appreciated that article. Oh, video games.

(and yeah, Arkham Riddler is pretty much the reason I loved those games so much)

#7 Posted by Ultimate_Riddler (289 posts) - - Show Bio

@akbogert: I felt the second half of my message was more appropriate in the other thread, "Where does he rank".

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