‘Year of the Villain’ begins with Lex Luthor making an offer to the villains of the DC Universe, giving them an opportunity to take down their enemies once and for all. Well, not all the villains; apparently, The Riddler wasn’t made an offer. That story will be told in a one-shot coming this September, which we can exclusively reveal today at Multiversity. Mark Russell (“The Flintstones,” “Wonder Twins”) and Scott Godlewski (“Superman,” “Batgirl”) will be telling this story, and we had the opportunity to chat with both of them about the issue.
THE RIDDLER: YEAR OF THE VILLAIN #1
written by MARK RUSSELL
art by SCOTT GODLEWSKI
Lex Luthor has presented dark gifts to super-villains across the DC Universe, setting off what can only be called the Year of the Villain. Unfortunately, resources are limited, so not everyone got something. The Riddler is one such person, and he is most displeased about it. Was this merely an oversight or a deliberate slight? The Riddler is determined to find out which—and so should you!
ONE-SHOT | ON SALE 09.11.19
It appears that Riddler isn’t getting the respect he thinks he deserves here from Luthor. Why was the Riddler the right character to tell this story with? Is there something about him that is particularly ignorable?
Mark Russell: I think Lex sees the Riddler as being tragically flawed. The Riddler is clearly a very smart man, but he’s content to be what Lex Luthor considers a “gimmick villain.” Somebody who’s more committed to his schtick than to actually accomplishing anything. It’s actually with great affection that Lex Luthor chooses not to enable the Riddler’s self-delusion, but challenges him to evolve in much the same way that Lex Luthor himself has.
Scott Godlewski: I agree with Mark here. I imagine Lex thinks so little of many of Batman’s gimmicky villains. Lex goes toe to toe with the most powerful man on the planet while Riddler can’t even put one over on a regular dude in a bat costume. And I would argue that many readers don’t hold Riddler in any sort of high esteem. So he makes sense to be singled out in this way.
Scott, we’ve seen various Riddler looks over the years, from a dapper suit to lime spandex, recently settling on the aging rockstar look of a shirt with far too many buttons open. What is the Riddler’s look going to be like here, and what visual aspects do you feel are essential to the classic Riddler?
SG: He’s still rocking the mutton chops and popped buttons, but I want to play up the rejection and feelings of unworthiness he’s battling. So even though his threads will jive with his latest appearances, his body language and expressions should scream “pathetic”.
Mark, you’ve got a knack for bringing humor into your work, and the Riddler is a character with some built-in opportunities for a joke here or there. When you’re setting out to write this story, does your mind instantly go to that space?
MR: Unlike Lex Luthor, I love the gimmick villains. There’s something inherently tragic, and thus hilarious, about a forty-year old man who dresses up in a green costume covered in question marks because he happened to win a riddle contest when he was ten and is still chasing that validation. I suppose, in a way, that’s how most people end up squandering their lives. So I sympathize with them. But to answer your question, I don’t instantly look for the humor in a situation. In fact, I look for the tragedy. But I think, in a lot of my work, that’s ultimately where the humor comes from… the absurdity of characters failing to recognize their own tragedy. And that’s largely what this comic is about… what does it take to get someone to recognize themselves as a farce?