Artist: Jeremy Haun
Villains Month continues, and finally the issue that I was most looking forward to has arrived. Although Joker is my all time favourite villain, Riddler is very close behind, and I find his core characteristics much more interesting, and if he had the same level of iconic stories like Joker he could easily have topped him. Also with the semi tie-in to Zero Year I was even more excited.
Riddler has returned to Wayne Enterprises, and makes his way up, and up, playing out riddles along the way.
This was an outstanding issue, and easily one of the best that Villains Month has produced so far. Both Scott Snyder, and Ray Fawkes did an amazing job with this issue, as although story wise it wasn't anything special, the way it was written was simply phenomenal, and you really have to give Fawkes a lot of credit for that. I also loved the tone of the story, as it wasn't too extravagant whilst still being extremely exciting, and entertaining. I also loved how Snyder, and Fawkes managed to tie this story in with both Forever Evil, as well as Zero Year whilst not really making it a tie-in of either, rather being it's own unique story that plays off both events.
The artwork on this issue was simply astonishing, and I was extremely happy with Jeremy Haun's work. I really enjoyed Haun's work on the Red Hood: The Lost Days series so I was very happy when I noticed he'd be working on this issue, as although he's not one of the best artists ever he has a lot of skill. I especially enjoyed how Haun drew the Riddler throughout this issue, as although there wasn't always a lot of emotion in him, when there was it was fabulous. I also loved the tone that Haun gave to this issue, as his layouts were simply perfect, as although they weren't as extraordinary as some artists it added a lot of depth to the issue.
With this being a story that had Riddler as the only main character there needed to be a lot of riddles, as although there are usually riddles with the Riddler (hence the name) recently that hasn't always been the case. Sometimes however I'm happy they don't add riddles, as unless the writer has a knack for that it can seriously ruin the story. Gladly Fawkes was amazing with the riddles in this issue, as although the first one was extremely easy, the it was still very well thought out, as were the other ones. I also loved how all of them were in a similar style, giving a specific tone to them, with them all ending with, "what am I?"
Another thing that's needed to make a great Riddler story is for his characteristic to be right, and that was certainly the case here, with this and the whole Zero Year Riddler being his best portrayal in a long time. I just loved how he acted so methodically throughout the issue, showing that although he's not a psychopath, that he's still not afraid of getting his hands dirty. I was also extremely happy about this showing him as the criminal genius that he is, as with Batman no longer around there isn't anyone to story him.
With Zero Year being the main Batman story out the now, as well as having Riddler as a key feature it was only expected that this'd be some what of a tie-in, and although Fawkes was right in a previous interview when he said that it's not a direct tie-in, I was happy that it did show a connection. I also loved how this connection was extremely subtle, as it doesn't go into any details about the Zero Year, just mentioning how Riddler was stuck in Arkham Asylum afterwards, and how life was like then, before, and now.
With Villains Month being very inconsistent so far it was nice to finally read an outstanding issue, as although there have been a few great ones, there haven't been any at this level so far. The issue itself got the Riddler character perfectly, having some fun, and interesting riddles, as well as brilliant interaction, and some exciting sequences. Due to all this I'd highly recommend it, and especially if you're reading Zero Year, as although not a direct tie-in, it goes very nicely with the story.