I first heard about the newly revamped, metrosexualized Riddler from a Dec. 27, 2004 post at PostModern Barney, but because the new look didn't do much for me I didn't seek out the comic.
However, I stumbled upon part 4 of the character's current 5-part storyline in Legends of the Dark Knight, which prominently features the kind of Batman I like to see: costume torn, cape removed, belt nicely displayed. The plot made absolutely no sense to me since I was entering 4/5 of the way into it, but I didn't really care. (Yes, dear reader, it's true: I really am that shallow, even--no, especially--at my advanced age.)
Still, I was at least mildly curious about just how our hero ended up in this disshevelled state, and why he was wearing a wristwatch on top of his gauntlet, and what the hell was going on in general, so when I found part 3 at a local grocery store that tends not to get rid of back issues very quickly, I picked it up. And remained equally confused.
That was several weeks ago. Today I sought out the first 2 parts, and, of all things, read them, and then reread parts 3 and 4. Lo and behold, there's a coherent story that almost makes up for the absence of a proper deathtrap or other fetishy pleasure beyond the torn suit. There's even a gay character --not the Riddler, as is made quite clear. (The gay angle, while slightly off-putting in a mainstream comic presumably intended for kids, comes straight out of the pulp fiction of the 1950s--shame, blackmail, etc.--which is a bit of a bummer.)
It's interesting that the Riddler's heterosexuality is stressed, given that he was essentially portrayed as a gay stalker in the movie. He's also probably a lot of gay readers' favorite villain, I'd bet, thanks in large part to Frank Gorshin and John Astin's form-fitting outfits in the TV series. And I know I'm not the only slash writer to envision him and Batman enmeshed in a quasi-consensual love affair. (I realize that recent versions of the Joker often imply he's a 'mo, but he just seems too psychopathic to experience any sort of human love or lust at all. And, for the record, I'm not suggesting that gay villains are any sort of sign of progress; as I've already pointed out, the equation between homosexuality and evil is not exactly a new one in pop culture.) I can't say I really buy the "new look" for the character--it doesn't make any sense, at least not so far, and it's in no way related to the way we usually think of the Riddler.
But hey, as long as the hero is looking this hot, I'll go along with pretty much anything on the villain front. And given the cliffhanger ending of part 4, I'm holding out mild hopes for a decent trap in part 5. Cross your fingers!
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