Celebrating the Unpopular Arts
 

What is it about Batman that turns Tom King into a bad writer?

I’m seriously asking! Tom King has been a critical darling almost since he started writing comics (I don’t know how his first comic was received, nor have I read it), and for the most part, it’s been justified. The Omega Men: pretty darned good. The Sheriff of Babylon: very good. The Vision: absolutely brilliant. Mister Miracle: excellent until he biffed the ending, but still a good read. Strange Adventures: also pretty darned good. Supergirl: brilliant, and he didn’t biff the ending. He’s written a bunch of other stuff, too, but those are kind of his thing – he takes obscure-ish characters and writes self-contained, short novellas about them. It works. So why can’t he write Batman?

To be fair, I might be tilting at windmills with regard to his long run on the actual title Batman. I read the first two trades, threw up in my mouth a little, and put them aside and never read his run again. It was just that bad, and that was coming off Scott Snyder’s less-than-stellar run. King wrote Batman for a long fucking time, and did a lot with the book, and people seemed to like it. I thought it was trash, but what the hell do I know, right?

Last week, King returned to the character with Batman – One Bad Day: The Riddler #1. Yes, I thought “Phew” as well. These one-shots are part of DC’s vast efforts to mine every single thing Alan Moore ever wrote for them without, you know, compensating him fairly for it, and so we get someone else missing the point of Alan Moore. This is the first one, and … wow, it’s bad. I mean, wow. I wasn’t going to buy it, but I got sucked in, because I do actually like the Riddler (he’s probably my favorite Bat-villain, unless you’re talking Cornelius Motherfucking Stirk!!!!), and King is a good writer, and Mitch Gerads does really nice work with the art (which I’m not going to write about a lot, but it’s nice). So I figured, what the hell, plunked down my seven hundred ninety-nine cents (minus a 20% discount, standard at Greg’s Comics in Mesa!), and read this sucker. And, I mean, wow, it’s bad.

First of all, I try not to be one of those people who doesn’t want characters to change. You know me. I don’t care if characters stay the same or change – if I don’t like it, instead of complaining, I’ll just stop reading. I do think that characters should adhere to a bit of a template, but not so strictly that they can never evolve. King has used the Riddler extensively, I guess, in his Batman run, and I have no idea how much of that seeped into this. It shouldn’t matter – this is a standalone story – but maybe it does. If you’re going to change the character, however, you should make it interesting. That’s a broad word, I know, but that’s the way it is. My question is: Does King even like the Riddler? Presumably after the success of his Batman, he was able to tell DC what character he’d want to write about for these one-shots. Maybe he didn’t, but if he did, why did he choose the Riddler if he doesn’t like him? And if he does like him, why does he hate him so much? Because he’s essentially ruined the character in 64 short pages. Well … done?

So let’s dive into this. SPOILERS ahoy, and all that. That’s just the way it is. Share my misery, won’t you? We begin with a first-person view of the world, as some dude named John finishes work at some office and gets on the elevator, while talking to his wife on the phone about their daughter. John seems like a decent fellow, but then, on page 4, the Riddler walks up to him on the street and shoots him in the head. He does this knowing the video cameras are on him, and so he holds up a card with a bat on it, demanding someone’s attention.

Jim Gordon is disinclined to let Riddler speak to Batman, so our villain tells him that it was he, Mr. Riddler, who told the Joker how to get to Gordon and Barbara for the events of The Killing Joke. Oh dear. He also twists the knife a bit about Sergeant Essen, because if DC isn’t strip-mining Alan Moore’s work, they’re strip-mining Frank Miller’s! Then we get a flashback to “Edward Tierney’s” adolescence. He doesn’t get the best grade on a test because his teacher added a riddle that Edward couldn’t answer, so his father, the headmaster, beats his butt with a book. Oh dear. Then we’re at John’s funeral, and Bruce is there for no good reason, and John’s widow, Diane, invites him back for the reception, which seems a bit odd, but whatever – how can you say no to that jawline? Back in the past, Edward gets another riddle wrong, and the teacher tells him it’s not about simply learning facts, but what you do with the knowledge and how you handle the weird questions life throws at you. This isn’t going to end well for the teacher, is it? Edward goes to his father’s office, contemplates suicide with the revolver in his father’s desk, but instead offers himself up for punishment once again because he didn’t do as well on the test as his father wanted.

Batman tortures a henchman of the Riddler’s for no seemingly good reason, but that’s just Bats being Bats, that crazy lug! Then Riddler talks the Film Freak into killing himself, which is fun. Batman goes out to a shack in the middle of nowhere. Who could be there? Before we find out, it’s another flashback, as Edward tries to get the teacher to let him do extra credit, but the teacher (who’s a bit of a doofus, to be fair) just goes on about how cool Edward is for rebelling and how he should just chill out. Yes, that will surely work. Then the Riddler cuts off the fingers of the guard who’s feeding him in his cell by trapping the fingers between the food tray and the door and pushing. Very nice. Back in the shack, we find Edward’s dad, who’s a thoroughly unpleasant man. Apparently Edward’s mother was a prostitute, so Edward’s father and Edward were stigmatized by the bluebloods that Edward’s father was in charge of, despite Edward being smarter than all of them. Batman, naturally, wants to know where Edward’s mother is.

Back in the past, Edward gets his father out of his office, then sneaks a look at his teacher’s next riddle. Oh, Edward, you fool. In the present, when they try to move the Riddler to a different cell block, he tells all the guards everything about their loved ones, and they all shoot each other (one of them panicked and was going to shoot our villain, another drew on him, things escalated). Meanwhile, Batman finds out that Edward’s mother is dead. Yep, Edward went to visit her and killed her. Well, that sucks. He finally agrees to meet with the Riddler, but before that, we get one more flashback! Edward got caught cheating because the teacher changed the riddle, and Edward didn’t even bother to read the question. The teacher says he’s going to have to turn him in, and that it’s for the best, because he’ll stop trying to be the smartest person and lighten up, and that’s when Edward kills him. He kicks him in the head (the teacher was kneeling down putting away his basketball, as they’re on the court) and then starts bashing his face in the pavement, apologizing the entire time and explaining that his father doesn’t like fun. On the same court in the present, Batman meets the Riddler, and things don’t go well for our hero.

First of all, the Riddler knows Batman’s identity, and Batman doesn’t seem too perturbed by this, so I assume this is from King’s Batman run. This is actually not a bad idea at all, as it’s not like it would too, too hard to figure out who Batman is, and the Riddler is quite smart. So … good job, Tom King? Then he tells Bats how he would wander through Wayne Manor at night because he’s better than the security system, and how he is going to kill one of Batman’s team if he doesn’t leave him alone, but then decides to kill a random person because it might actually be hard to kill one of Batman’s team. Batman threatens him, but there’s really nothing he can do. Off goes the Riddler!

Next, we see the aftermath. The Riddler is living high on the hog, and everyone is scared of him, even gangsters. Sad sack Bruce Wayne visits the dead guy’s widow to tell her why the dead guy is dead, and she tells him a deep and philosophical anecdote about her daughter playing soccer. The Riddler is in his fancy hotel room listening in on Batman talking to Gordon through the bug he has on the roof by the Bat-Signal, but surprise! it’s actually a recording, and suddenly Batman is behind the Riddler, looking menacing, and then we smash cut to black. THE END!!!!!

After I typed all of the above, I went to the comic book store for my usual Wednesday visit, where the clerk told me I was crazy for not loving this comic as he did. One of the dudes who I hang out with at the store hadn’t read it yet, so I didn’t argue too much with the clerk, but I wanted to!!!! He told me that it was hard to get worked up over an out-of-continuity story (even though I’m not sure this is one of those) that is just an interpretation of the character. And, as I pointed out above, I don’t get too bent out of shape when a character changes. But I’m going to address both the in-story crappiness and the in-continuity crappiness. How’s that for your money?!?!?!?

So, the backstory. The Riddler’s “origin.” Blech. When he talks about killing his mother, the Riddler says, “And there she was in front of me, and I could finally know why I am this way. Bruce, I’m not like you. Simple. ‘Crime killed my parents. I will fight crime.’ Whatever. No, I’m more complex than that. And I was about to be solved. So I asked her some things, and she opened her mouth and … and before she could answer, I reached out and I strangled her. As she died, as I watched the life come out of her … I don’t know. I didn’t want the answers.” Really, Edward? You’re too complex? Let’s see – according to this very comic, we have a domineering father who banged a whore and then took the child and had no problem sending the mother away, raising him to be the best no matter what and punishing him in both a brutal and a sexually confusing way. The child can’t abide failure, can’t think imaginatively, hates and loves his father in equal measure so he can’t kill him but he can kill the only person who’s even a bit kind and paternal toward him. He hates his mother for leaving even though it wasn’t her fault, and he wishes he could have spent time with her but, because of her profession, he gets sexually confused about that, too, because it’s an Oedipal thing writ large and clichéd, so he kills her. I mean, it’s not that complex, you feeb. It’s dull and boring and doesn’t really give us any new insight into the character. Blech.

His scheme is dumb, too, because it relies on a variable that far too many writers of Batman-related stuff not dealing with: the notoriously corrupt Gotham police force suddenly deciding not to be corrupt. Half or more of the force – which, as we’re told at every chance writers can get – is wildly corrupt would have put a bullet into the Joker’s brain long ago, and in this comic, Riddler’s scheme hinges on the fact that no cop wants to have anything to do with him because he knows all about their families. When he gets the cops to shoot each other, you’re telling me that one of those cops wouldn’t have blown his brains out? Gotham’s cops are corrupt … until they’re not, which is whenever killing a villain would untie any Gordian knot the villain has presented to them. The Riddler might have guessed that they wouldn’t kill him, but he couldn’t know. That’s a minor thing, honestly, because King isn’t the first writer to get sucked into that trap, and he won’t be the last. It still bugs me.

The little things, though, is where the book really bothers me. It’s the question of who the character is, who he could be, and what you can do with him. I claim, above, that King ruined the character, something the clerk at my store scoffed at because he says this is not in continuity (which may or may not be true). Sure, this might not be “canon,” but King is in the same position, I would argue, of Miller and Moore in the mid-1980s – influential enough that even if DC ignores this rendition, other people will read this and decide to use King’s take on the character, and then we’d get more of this garbage. I mean, The Killing Joke wasn’t supposed to be in continuity, yet here we are. So, speaking of that, the Riddler was the mastermind behind the events of The Killing Joke? Here’s what he tells Gordon: “How’d the Joker know you’d be home with Babs that day? How’d he know where you live? How did he get past your security? We both know him. He’s a weird guy, complicated, but never much of a planner.” So not only does King not understand the Riddler, he doesn’t understand the Joker, either, which isn’t surprising, given that most writers since Frank Miller turned the Joker into a rampaging maniac have misunderstood him. The Joker couldn’t figure out Gordon’s address? He couldn’t get past whatever security he had, which in a notoriously corrupt city like Gotham, probably wasn’t much, if any. He couldn’t, I don’t know, follow Gordon around for a while to find out where he was going and when he’d be there? Really, Tom King? Sheesh. The Joker can plan quite well, thank you, and it’s not like The Killing Joke hinged on some elaborate plan, anyway.

What bothers me most about this gets back to whether characters should change. Sure, they can, but there are also certain parameters for each character. Batman doesn’t kill. As stupid as that is with regard to, say, the Joker, it’s still a fundamental part of the character. So, of course, King implies that the only way to stop the Riddler is for Batman to kill him. Listen, if DC is going to allow Batman to start killing people, the first person he’s taking out is the Joker, so this is dumb, but it’s also completely misunderstanding the character. Batman doesn’t kill. Respect it or don’t, but you can’t write a Batman comic in which he willfully kills. I would put it out that that the Riddler doesn’t kill, either. I am given to understand that King himself, and probably other writers, have already fucked this up, but that don’t make it right. Paul Dini’s re-invention of the character as a private detective, which was brilliant, is impossible if Riddler is a killer. But more than that, it’s boring. In this comic, the Riddler claims he’s giving up riddles because he’s bored with them and he’s so smart they were only to allow Batman to keep up. But that’s not the point of the Riddler. The riddles are him trying to outsmart Batman, because that’s what he cares about. If he gives them up, there has to be a better reason than “I want to be a boring version of the Joker,” which is what no-riddle, mass-murdering Riddler is. There is nothing interesting about this character. There’s nothing interesting about mass-murdering Joker, either, but at least he got there first. This character is just trying way too hard to be the Joker, and that sucks. DC and their writers seem to want to turn everyone into the Joker these days, and that’s stupid. The Riddler is interesting because of his riddles and the fact that he doesn’t kill people. The Penguin is interesting because he’s a semi-legitimate businessman, not some misshapen murderer. Two-Face is interesting because of his moral code. Catwoman … well, she’s not that interesting as Bruce’s paramour, but she is interesting as a cat burglar who also doesn’t kill people. If you take the schtick away from comic book characters, they usually become far less interesting. In this case, garbage. I know I’m living in the past, but Gaiman’s Riddler from Secret Origins is so, so good and Gaiman gets the character so well in so few pages that it’s sad nobody follows that template. Milligan’s three-issue arc in which the Riddler does kill is great precisely because it’s so bizarre that he’s killing. Why do writers follow the lead of Frank Miller’s Joker but not Neil Gaiman’s Riddler? I suspect because, as many people have pointed out, writers like to be “edgy” and “mature,” and that means having characters kill without any reason, just because life sucks. Yeah, that’s not mature or particularly edgy. Maybe it’s because it’s hard coming up with good riddles? I get that. I’m certainly not smart enough to come up with good ones.

I know I’ve “spilled a lot of ink” over this comic, and I probably shouldn’t have, but it bugs me. It bugs me because of a lot of things, not the least of which is writers trying to change characters that have been around long before they were born and will be after they’re gone (assuming the world isn’t completely inhospitable to life soon) in radical ways. “But, but, Alan Moore!” the people will say. Yes, well, Alan Moore is a great writer, so there’s that. Again, I don’t mind changing the character, even a character (like the Riddler) that I like. But he isn’t your character, and you can’t mess with him too much. It seems like a lot of writers want to play in the toybox of the Big Two but can’t accept that they don’t own the fucking toys. It sucks, but that’s the way it is. Plenty of writers have gone to Image or Dark Horse or someplace else and done Batman, Superman, Joker, Wonder Woman, and any other kind of analogs, and King could have written a story of a super-villain who’s smarter than the hero he fights for a different company. But he wanted to wreck the Riddler. Well, mission accomplished. I mean, this is as bad as if a writer made a British telepath into an Asian ninja … oh, bad example. This would be like if someone turned Looker into a vampire … whoops. Ok, this would be like if someone fundamentally changed Gambit and made him into a good character. Yeah, I thought that would never happen! It’s just depressing that DC and people who write for DC can’t imagine a bad guy who wants to challenge Batman intellectually, so anyone like that has to be a mass murderer, too. Batman already has one depraved, insipid mass murderer running around his Rogues’ Gallery. He certainly doesn’t need a low-rent version, as well.

(Oh, and Riddler has been “in and out of Arkham for decades” and the henchdude “henched” for him for “decades”? How the hell long has the Riddler been active? And he wouldn’t be in Arkham, because he’s not insane. He’s just a criminal with a weird schtick. He’d be in prison.)

(Oh, and the grawlix. So tired of it. Don’t write curse words into your comic if you know they’re not going to appear in the actual comic. It looks stupid, and it’s lazy writing. Come on, people!)

So. That’s my rant. I apologize for the ranting, but occasionally, I get really angry at comics. Most I can let go because they don’t matter, but when a critically acclaimed writer puts out something crappy like this, and it’s a major publishing event, and it involves Batman, it angries up my blood. So I rant. That’s the way it is!

Literally everything wrong with DC over the past 20 years summed up in six words!

I’ve liked a lot of what King has written, and he’s doing a Slam Bradley thing, I think, that I’m looking forward to (as long as a certain pointy-eared vigilante doesn’t show up!). That’s why this badness when it comes to Batman perplexes me. I know I’m in the minority, hating both King’s Batman and Scott Snyder’s Batman (not Snyder’s Detective, as I’ve pointed out, but his post-New52 Batman), but I gots to calls it like I sees it. If you want to read good Tom King, go get his Supergirl trade. It’s ok, you don’t always have to read Batman-related comics!

38 Comments

  1. Bright-Raven

    I think King’s just an extremely overrated writer. His OMEGA MEN was a hot mess at best, STRANGE ADVENTURES meandered and the story could have been told in half the number of issues, and that HUMAN TARGET with the whole murder of Guy Gardner nonsense… Nah. I can do without him, thank you very much.

    So it doesn’t surprise me one bit that you think his Batman isn’t very good, Greg, even if you liked some of his other stuff.

    “I know I’m in the minority, hating both King’s Batman and Scott Snyder’s Batman…”

    I don’t think you’re as much in the minority as you think you are, Greg.

    1. Greg Burgas

      I think I’m more in one with regard to Snyder, whose Batman run seems to be better received than King’s. I still think I am, but yeah, perhaps not as much as I think!

  2. conrad1970

    I was another one who was excited when King was announced as the new Batman Writer. Yeah, I was really disappointed as well. it was bad but nowhere near as bad as Snyder’s mess, which has to be the most over-rated drivel of the last 20 years.
    I think Vision is his only book that I’ve enjoyed from beginning to end.
    Saying that though I have been loving his current run on Nightwing, sure a lot of it seems to be fan service but it’s so hard not to like and Redondo’s art has been amazing.

  3. JHL

    Tom King’s stuff is wildly erratic in quality well beyond the Batman stuff. I actually think we have past the point where there are more misses than hits. Two more (I think) unmentioned misses were Rorschach and the bizarrely toxic Heroes In Crisis. The Vision series is one of my favorite comics of the past decade but Tom King’s name on a cover has become something that instills wariness instead of enthusiasm.

      1. The idea of a counseling center for dealing with superhero trauma sounds good but it’s also unworkable — like a center treating concussion for all those blows to the head. There’s no way to treat it realistically and keep the characters usable.
        The treatment of Wally West has me decided against reading it, even a library copy.

        1. JHL

          It’s an astonishing bad book. It’s depiction of Wally is insulting to both the character and any of his fans. It’s concept of having people relive their worst traumas over and over again in holo deck style brutal environments is dangerous none sense. And that the facility has only robot staff instead of . . . you know . . . qualified therapists is preposterous (despite the maintaining secret identities excuse). Heroes in Crisis is one of those books, like Secret Identity, that makes me madder the more I think about it.

  4. King’s Mr. Miracle was just as bad — none of the characters had any connection to the Kirby creations whose name they bear.
    I didn’t like his Batman at all, though I do think he does well with Selina/Bruce. Ruining the Riddler started with his “War of Jokes and Riddles’ arc (https://frasersherman.com/2018/03/28/why-didnt-they-shoot-him-the-war-of-jokes-and-riddles/) which also reimagined Nigma as a stone cold killer. And tried to prove the Riddler was a total badass by having him show the cops surrounding him that he knows their kids’ names and where they go to school etc. Like you, I find the idea he wasn’t immediately “killed trying to escape” ludicrous.
    King and Snyder are both on the “avoid, even if they’re writing characters you love” list. Maybe especially then. Though yeah, his Vision was good, but not enough to make me pick up anything else.
    The Riddler’s debut sets up a perfectly workable MO: he enjoys being seen as a smart guy who can solve puzzles, so he cheats. Reinforced by the later add-on that he’s psychologically blocked from stealing without riddles.

    1. Greg Burgas

      Yeah, the Riddler isn’t hard to get right. I mean, again, I’m not smart enough to come up with riddles, but his character besides that shouldn’t be too difficult!

      1. Someone complained online that the problem with Movie Batman is that the writers can’t come up with “the mystery only Batman can solve” so they wind up relying on being able to buy over-the-top tech instead.
        Even in comics, I think there are fewer writers like Mike Barr and Bill Finger who know how to construct a good mystery.

        1. JHL

          True. The movie complaint is kinda funny though since Batman stories in comics seem to rarely involve a mystery either. It’s not even a matter of stories having bad mysteries, it just seems to be an element of Batman most writers either forget or have no interest in.

          1. Yes, the Bat-god is much more physically intimidating than a brilliant detective.
            I suspect part of that is that when you have CSI evidence and security camera footage, it’s more of a challenge to find a way to use pure detective work in stories on a regular basis.

  5. Peter

    I generally do like King quite a bit but his Batman work is really confusing. Some of it is decent (I thought his first arc on the main book was solid if unspectacular meat-and-potatoes superheroics), some of it is trash (most of his work with JanĂ­n – not that his art is bad, he just illustrated the worst stories King wrote). Yet he’s also written maybe my two favorite Batman stories since Morrison (Batman/Elmer Fudd and the Batman/Catwoman/Clark/Lois double date issues).

    I had no desire to read this one-shot because it does seem like writers just want to turn every villain into the Joker. I also think that The Riddler requires more thought than most writers are willing to put into a story – he actually needs riddles that are clever and not overly obvious! This was kind of a big problem with the most recent Batman film, which had a “vibe” I appreciated but really had piss-poor riddles and subpar detective work all around.

  6. Darthratzinger

    I like Kings Batman run but only because I hypnotized myself into believing it´s the longest Elseworlds story ever. Characters should change but I prefer a more organic evolution instead of an “from this Nr.1 on everybody acts totally unrecognizable for no apparent reason”. A good example for an organic change were Harvey Dent and the Riddler in DCs One Year Later when they became sort of Batman allies. It didn´t negate what came before but instead built on it and was thus kinda believable (for comic book characters).

    1. Greg Burgas

      I agree that those changes were pretty good. It’s not that hard to have the characters change but have them still be recognizable! Sheesh, writers! 🙂

  7. Scorching hot take! Which I didn’t read most of because I haven’t read this comic yet! This might be the only One Bad Day issue I pick up, though I’m tempted by some of the others.

    I’ve bought almost everything Tom King’s written, but I’ve actually read very little of it. I do have his entire Batman run, but I only read to about #12 or 13. Really, I’ve bought all this stuff on the strength of his Grayson with Tim Seeley, and strong word of mouth.

    I *have* read his Superman: Up in the Sky with Andy Kubert, and *loved* it. One of the best Superman comics I’ve ever read. Reminded me of Eliot S! Maggin stuff.

    Also I liked Scott Snyder’s Bat-run, especially Zero Year and the crazy run where Jim Gordon was mecha-Batman. But I’ve fallen off the Snyder train in more recent years.

    Greg, if they ever call me and ask me to write Batman, I’ll definitely bring back Cornelius Stirk.

    1. Greg Burgas

      I know you’re being goofy, but I’m not sure Stirk would work anymore. His cool schtick is that he can appear as anyone, and as long as Batman knows this, he’s kind of easy to defeat. That being said, if you can bring him back, I hope you do! 🙂

  8. Jazzbo

    Pretty sure Riddler knowing Batman’s identity first happened in Loeb and Lee’s Hush story. At the end you find out Riddler told Hush his identity, but Batman points out if everyone knows the secret then it doesn’t make sense riddler special anymore, or something along those lines. So he doesn’t tell anyone.

    Snyder had Riddler be a mass murdering crime lord in his Zero Year story, which I think I only got like halfway through. It was dumb. I agree riddler shouldn’t be a killer. It’s boring. I did like him being an unethical detective trying to outdo Batman.

    1. Greg Burgas

      Yeah, I forgot about Hush. I think I had it surgically removed from my memory. So I can’t even give King credit for that!

      I guess I can’t blame King for mass-murdering Riddler, either. But I can blame him for going along with it!

  9. Jazzbo

    Somewhat related, but also during Snyder’s Joker story he seemingly had joker killing dozens of people at every turn, which just really made it hard to believe the people of Gotham wouldn’t be calling for his, Gordon’s, Batman’s and any other authority figures heads at this point. Joker keeps escaping from Arkham, and then always goes on to kill a shit load of people, and then they just put him back in Arkham? It strains suspension of disbelief to the breaking point. And is just boring. Come up with better ideas for the joker.

    1. If they were really doing realism, they’d have to confront that the Joker doesn’t pass the test for “not guilty by reason of insanity.” He knows what he’s doing. He knows it’s a crime. He knows he’s killing people. He just doesn’t care.
      Of course I’m fine with keeping the Joker around, but those who do should stop pretending realism is their lodestar.

    2. Greg Burgas

      It is boring. I’ve always loved The Laughing Fish because his plan is crazy but still clever, and he kills a random henchman because the dude questioned the plan, which made the Joker seem crazy and dangerous, but he didn’t need to kill hundreds of people to do it.

  10. mike loughlin

    I didn’t hate the Riddler one-shot, but I don’t get why none of the cops shot the villain. My No-Prize explanation is that bad guys come back to life all the time in the DCU. I think this story is non-canon – you’re right Greg, canonicity or lack thereof has no bearing on quality – and didn’t feel connected to the DCU, so it’s a pretty weak explanation. I’m pretty sure this story was intended for a Black Label book, and DC just reformatted it. The amount of grawlix was grating, but it read like the swears were supposed to be in there. I don’t recall King being *that* bad with over using grawlix in previous work…

    The Gaiman/BEM story is great. My favorite Riddler comic is Batman Adventures 10, which I recommend as a palate cleanser if you didn’t like the King/Gerards one-shot.

    1. Greg Burgas

      That sounds plausible, that it was going to be a Black Label book. I wonder why DC didn’t do it that way, because the label is, after all, still limping along. Weird.

      I haven’t read Batman Adventures #10. I’ll have to hunt it down!

      1. conrad1970

        You can never go wrong with Batman Adventures, whenever I think of Batman that’s my go to version.
        I wish the main comics were more like that than what we are getting now.

        1. Greg Burgas

          I always said that Parker’s Batman ’66 could have easily been the “regular” Batman with only a few tweaks. Those were also really good Batman stories, but they weren’t grim enough!

          1. conrad1970

            Batman 66’ was also great, it was a shame that DC didn’t have the sense to pick up on Francavilla’s promo piece for Batman 77’, I would have been all that one, it looked awesome.

          2. JHL

            Bendis (there is another hit and miss writer) did multipart Batman story for those weird Walmart exclusive comics they tried awhile back that did a great job of having modern Batman in a light hearted and fun story. It often made think of Batman 66 and the Brave and the Bold cartoon. Especially the cartoon. Come to think of it if I recall right the story leaned heavily on Batman as a Detective.

  11. TheStreckfus55

    Hello Mr. Burgas! Long time lurker, first time commenter.

    You are not wrong about Snyder’s Batman run. Although I liked Court of the Owls, the rest of it was sort of bleh. It felt more like stories loosely strung together rather than a proper “run.” Subplots? Nope. Progression? Nope. Batman fights the Joker, we go to Zero Year and then he fights Joker again…..it felt too soon and it didn’t really have much in the way of consequences besides Alfred losing a hand.

    Snyder wanted the run to feel dark and epic but it sort of fell flat.

    1. Greg Burgas

      Court of Owls was nothing special, but it wasn’t bad, and I had a little hope for the run after it, but then it started spiraling almost immediately. It’s too bad, because I do like Snyder’s writing, much like I like King’s. Batman defeats them all!

      Thanks for commenting! I hope it won’t be the last time!

  12. So I read this. And while I think there is some interesting stuff in here, I also didn’t like it because it doesn’t feel true to the characters for me. And it reads like Brian Bendis’s Zack Snyder’s Alan Moore’s The Killing Riddle.

    Some random notes:

    1. It bugs me that the victim’s name is John Oates and that Riddler’s scheme is not some elaborate Hall and Oates reference.
    2. I also don’t understand why nobody just shoots the Riddler? Like, cops and the mob are too afraid of him? Really?
    3. I literally just read a Tweet as I was typing this in which King says all the One Bad Day one-shots are in continuity, but that has to be impossible because Batman clearly murders the Riddler at the end?
    4. They changed Riddler’s origins (and surname) again? I guess it doesn’t matter, but I agree it doesn’t really add anything new.
    5. Also, the Riddler at his core is really an egotistical doofus, so I can definitely see him lying about his Killing Joke connection, and I don’t think we’re necessarily supposed to believe him when he says he’s more ‘complex’ than Batman.
    6. There’s something interesting to the idea of a Riddler who stops asking riddles, but that’s one story. You can’t really move forward with that as a new status quo. (Also, again, Batman murders him in this and there’s no way they’re sticking with that in-continuity.)
    7. Gerads draws Bruce Wayne as a beat-up Jon Hamm.
    8. Never Mind the Grawlix was a good album.
    9. People that loved The Batman would probably like this comic.
    10. My favorite version of The Riddler is probably the animated series. Frank Gorshin was tremendous but also a little too… enthusiastic.

    So, yeah. Not crazy about this one. Is the premise of this series to do a “Killing Joke” for each Bat-villain? That makes me nervous.

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