By: Tony Daniel (writer), Guillem March (artist), Tomeu Morey (inker)
The Story: Riddle Me This, Part One: Batman is called to a weird murder that doesn’t quite fit easy theories. Who shows up to help out and make suggestions? Edward Nigma. No one is comfortable with his help, but he seems to be on to something in terms of spotting a series of copycat murders. As the story goes on, it becomes increasingly clear that someone is trying to play Batman, but who is it, and will Dick get out alive?
What’s Good: Guillem and Morey draw some very evocative art. The blotches of color in the dream sequence, the scratchy darkness, the mutilated corpes and a grim-faced Batman make Gotham come to life in its lurid, creepy way. Nigma, with his stringy, greasy hair and fluid mouth fits right into the creepy. And everything is textured: the rain, the pavement, the buildings and the faces. I really enjoyed the effort the artists made to evoke this reality. At the same time, I think that Daniel offered us a typical Batman puzzle, although I had some issues.
What’s Not So Good: I didn’t feel that this was Daniel’s finest plotting. Daniel passes the basic test of having filled a comic book with a story, but it felt uninspired and a little underdone. For example, Daniel spent the first three and a half pages of this issue on a Dick Grayson dream sequence. While it might have been revealing in terms of character, when we find out on page four that the dreams are a lingering after-effect of the toxins Dick was exposed to last issue, I’m wondering why this sequence was left in at all. There are easier and more effective ways of showing self-doubt. And while the villain was toying with Batman like he had a fish on the line, I thought that Nigma’s involvement in the investigation seemed to be accepted far too easily and unquestioningly by Batman and Commissioner Gordon. The photos Nigma showed them also seemed a bit too good to be true. If I as a reader can see the implausibility of Nigma managing to get pictures of a pretty outlandishly-dressed villain in the crowd around a crime scene, shouldn’t Batman? And my suspension of disbelief was pretty strained when they ran those grainy pictures through “a facial profile on the Bat-computer” and got a first and last name Batman could track down. All in all, it felt to me that Daniel wasn’t giving his all and the plot holes and logical inconsistencies were just too much.
Conclusion: It felt like Daniel just mailed this in, which is unfortunate, because I’ve read better stories by him and know he’s capable of more. I can’t recommend this book.