By: Scott Snyder & Ray Fawkes (Story), Fawkes (writer), Jeremy Haun (art), John Rausch (colors) and Taylor Esposito (letters)

The Story: Riddler is out to settle an old score.

The Review (with minor SPOILERS): This was pretty solid.  I mean, it won’t inspire me to buy a lot of other Villain’s Month comics from DC, but it did restore some confidence after the mediocre Batman #23.1 last week.

Two things help this issue succeed where #23.1 failed.  One, it ties somewhat into the ongoing story from Batman.  Lurking in the background of the Zero Year has been a young Riddler who still works for Wayne Enterprises.  This story doesn’t occur at the same time as Zero Year, but just the fact that we’ve seen Riddler recently makes it feel more like a tie-in than an extra issue that is shoveled at us a la #23.1.  Like I said, it isn’t exactly the same, but it feels more like a natural thing to be talking about since we were just reading about Riddler.

The other cool thing is that this Riddler actually has an edge on him.  I just didn’t enjoy seeing Joker training a Gorilla in #23.1.  It seemed really stupid.  But seeing that Riddler has severe and violent issues with people merely TOUCHING HIM was pretty nifty.  The last time I saw Riddler was in the Old 52 and he was a quasi-good private detective who hung out with the Gotham City Sirens from time to time and helped the police and Batman.  THIS is a pretty big change to see him go full-on psycho.  I mean, at the end of the issue, we find out that he orchestrated this entire break-in of Wayne enterprises just to get revenge on a guard who had once tormented him in Arkham (and is now Wayne’s head security guard).

I even liked the guard.  Too often these guards are just faceless guys as they get electrocuted, Joker-gassed, shot, blown-up, etc.  Scott Snyder and Ray Fawkes show that you can give a guy a real personality in just a few pages.  Thus, when Riddler finally gets his revenge, I felt really bad for the guard.  I was thinking, “Geez….the guy is probably close to retirement….”

So, good issue guys!  Now is it “issue of the year”?  Is it a “must read”?  Do you have to read this to understand the ongoing Batman story?  The answer to all of these questions is “no”.  I still don’t like publishing gimmicks like Villains’ Month, but the creators have very much made lemonade out of a lemon situation.  Given that the whole concept of Villians’ Month is kinda offensive, this is about as good as we readers could possibly expect.

The art is solid.  There’s nothing that’ll blow your socks off and there might have been a few places with unsteady storytelling, but I strongly doubt you’ll see too many people complaining either.  However, it’s not good enough art for the issue to get an “A”.

Conclusion: Not bad.  This is a comic that will appeal a little bit to people reading Zero Year and it does feature a different spin on The Riddler.  Villains’ Month is still kinda silly though.

Grade: B-

-Dean Stell