REVIEW: ‘The Riddler: Year One,’ Issue #1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The Riddler Year One #1 - But Why Tho

The Riddler: Year One #1 is written by Paul Dano, illustrated and colored by Stevan Subic, and lettered by VC’s Clayton Cowles. It’s published by DC Comics. Before the events of The Batman, Edward Nashton was a forensic accountant who felt like Gotham City was crushing him in its grip. It also doesn’t help that he has massive insecurities and suicidal thoughts plaguing his every waking hour. The only solace he finds is in the comfort of puzzles and testing his formidable intellect. But things soon change when he learns of a vigilante prowling the streets. And when his work reveals the root of corruption in Gotham City.

I’m not going to lie: when I first heard that Dano was writing this comic, I was stuck with a mixture of interest and apprehension. An actor writing a comic is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, comics like BRZRKR (co-written by Keanu Reeves) and Minor Threats (co-written by Patton Oswalt) work because they had a deep love of the comic medium and how it works. On the other hand, comics like Spider-Man: Bloodline, which J.J. Abrams co-wrote with his son Henry, are clear examples of nepotism running rampant.

Thankfully, Dano falls into the former camp. It helps that he actually played the character he’s writing—who else to explore the puzzle box that is Nashton’s mind? In the vein of a puzzle, Dano starts piecing together the events that led to Nashton becoming the Riddler. There’s his sense of self-worth. There’s the way that everyone at his job, including his case leader Zach who has little experience but all the right connections, walks over him. And there’s the exhilaration he feels when seeing Batman in action, as well as the validation from people online. As anyone who’s seen The Batman knows, this makes for a dangerous combination.

The major draw of the book is Subic’s art, which is haunting in so many ways. Subic finds new and inventive ways to depict the darkness within Nashton’s mind. Sometimes he imagines flinging himself into the path of an oncoming train, its glowing yellow lights enveloping his body. Other times he’s pulled into the void by inky black tendrils, reverting to an infant form. And of course, Batman himself is depicted as a towering mass of shadows, appearing without warning and disappearing just as quickly.

The rest of the color work captures the dark and shifting mood of Gotham. The only light seems to come from inside rooms such as Nashton’s office and a courtroom. Otherwise, it’s dark alleys and setting suns. Cowles employs a lettering tactic that often has Nashton’s thoughts following him in plain white letters, which is haunting yet captivating. But the most disturbing page comes in the form of one of Nashton’s accounting sheets, where he writes “I am enough.” Toward the end, it shifts to a single sentence, in bold letters: “No, you are not.” A later page features Nashton scribbling in a rough Batman sketch that only serves to fuel his obsession with the Dark Knight.

The Riddler: Year One #1 serves as a captivating prologue to The Batman, with the creative team taking a deep dive into the mind of Edward Nashton. If you loved The Batman and wanted more of Matt Reeves’ vision of Gotham City, this is the comic for you.

The Riddler: Year One #1 is available wherever comics are sold.


The Riddler: Year One #1
4.5

TL;DR

The Riddler: Year One #1 serves as a captivating prologue to The Batman, with the creative team taking a deep dive into the mind of Edward Nashton. If you loved The Batman and wanted more of Matt Reeves’ vision of Gotham City, this is the comic for you.

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