Back in 1988 there was a little comic released called The Killing Joke, written by Alan Moore. It redefined the character of The Joker and has gone on to become one of DC’s all-time biggest comics, never going out of print.
Within the pages of that story, The Joker says:
And it is this idea that sits at the heart of DC’s new series of one-shot comics, Batman – One Bad Day, with each one written and drawn by different creators and hoping to redefine a classic villain in Batman’s rogues gallery.
So first up we have The Riddler. Now this is an interesting one to start with because he’s being having something of a resurgence recently, following Paul Dani’s excellent Zodiac Killer-inspired performance in the recent film. But before that, the guy was a joke. He was a colourful genius, who always revealed his plans with elaborate setups and ridiculous riddles. So its a good job that it’s Tom King and Mitch Gerads working on this one. With Mister Miracle and Strange Adventures, they’ve done an excellent job in the past of bringing pathos and heart to some of the more outlandish comic book characters.
The kind of lame origin story of The Riddler goes all the way back to his origins in the 40s. He became the villain know as ‘The Riddler’ after cheating on a test in school – and no one has really tried to retcon that. Plus, before Paul Dano, most people think of Jim Carrey with a blender on his head whenever someone mentions The Riddler. So I’d argue that King and Gerads really had their work cut out for them with this one.
What if The Riddler stopped goading Batman with stupid riddles? What if he killed at random, without handicapping himself with ridiculous rules? He’s a genius, above even The World’s Greatest Detective. That’s what this comic suggests, and it really goes for broke. The absolute hopelessness of the situation is hammered home in the last few pages and it is bleak.
The story is split between The Riddler causing mayhem and his upbringing at a prestigious Gotham School. In the present-day storyline, he has executed a man in broad daylight for seemingly no reason. No you’d expect this from The Joker, but Riddler has rules. What follows is a surprisingly harrowing phycological tale as The Batman is left as the only person who can piece it together. Why has his second-tier villain given up on the giant typewriters and meticulous underground racetracks?
It is a phenomenal start to this new series. I’m hoping DC haven’t overplayed their hand here by having this first issue be from two of the best in the business, but I am super excited for the next issue.