The Riddler’s 10 Greatest Puzzles, Ranked
Few villains in Batman’s rogues gallery have gone through as many dramatic re-characterizations as the Riddler. The threat he poses to Batman and Gotham as a whole varies greatly depending on the age of the comic and the medium. In some respects, the threat level of E. Nigma is cyclical.
The Riddler bounces between a campy but easily overpowered nuisance and a criminal mastermind with a compulsion to turn his schemes into puzzles. Likewise, the puzzles posed by the Riddler also vary in complexity. Nevertheless, Nigma almost always presents good or interesting puzzles in one way or another. Some result in absolute chaos within Gotham, while others are silly and fun.
ten The horniest riddle
The Riddler first appeared in Detective comic #140, written by Bill Finger, penciled by Dick Sprang and inked by Charles Paris. In an effort to lure Batman and Robin into a trap, the Riddler posts a riddle on the side of a corn-shaped truck. The riddle reads: “Dear Batman, this is a nerdy riddle to direct you to my next job: why is it hard to escape corn?”
Trying to work her way to the answer, Robin lists words associated with corn. When he mentions “corn”, Batman puts the pieces together and the Dynamic Duo follow the Riddler through a glass maze at Pleasure Pier. Batman: The Animated Series (1992-1999) would use an equally corny riddle in his episode “If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Rich?” decades later.
9 “I am not the fauna, but the flora…”
In the first season of Young Judge (2010-), the founding members of the team track the jet from Cheshire to a valley in the Smokey Mountains where they find its crashed plane. They search for survivors but find no one – dead or alive – in the wreckage. Suddenly, a team of villains appear atop the cliffs overlooking the valley, including the Riddler, and the team realizes they’ve been set up.
With the young heroes trapped, Nigma asks the teenagers, “I am not the fauna, but the flora. I am the foliage, but not the trees”, he pauses to generate a domed force field on the heroes and continues, “I’m shrubs, not grass. What am I? I…” An annoyed Robin solves it with no problem. “Ambush,” he replies.
8 The primordial enigma
The Riddler never asks for it directly but passes “The Primal Riddle” storyline to create the titular puzzle. In Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #109written by Steve Englehart with art by Dusy Abell, Drew Geraci, Digital Chameleon, and Willie Schubert, the Riddler sends Batman falling into part of the power grid.
The Dark Knight experiences an electric jolt that literally separates his soul from his body and mind. As Batman hunts down the remnants of his soul – his conscience and his will to honor his oath to his parents – the overriding riddle implicitly makes itself known: “What can’t Batman live on?” Even the Riddler underestimates the answer.
seven “I am a house…”
At the end of Year zero storyline, the Riddler traps Batman and threatens to bomb Gotham City. However, he also asks Batman twelve questions, saying he’ll let The Dark Knight save the city if he can answer them correctly. The Riddler only clears three before Batman overtakes him.
The first puzzle is particularly good. “I am a house without a head of a head… knitted deep in the trees. A head that rests without its eyes. Sewn in silence to tease. What am I?” Batman reasons through the convoluted riddle to produce the correct answer: a louse.
6 How the Riddler got his name
Gotham (2014-2019) gave Edward Nygma some tired but also great puzzles over its five seasons. Its fifteenth episode of season three, aptly titled “How the Riddler Got His Name,” has a particularly difficult blow for Lucius Fox to solve.
Threatening to slaughter a team of police officers unless Fox answers his riddle correctly, Ed Nygma offers the following: “I feel your every move. I know your every thought. I have been with you since I was born and I I’ll see when you rot.” The answer? “Your reflection.”
5 Who is Hush?
When his gallery of rogues begins to act wildly, Batman suspects that the various villains’ anomalous plots are all connected. With the help of the extended Bat Family, he finally puts it all back together.
While Dr. Thomas Elliott, Bruce Wayne’s childhood friend, turns out to be the man who commits most of the crimes, Batman also deduces that Riddler is pulling all the strings. The Dark Knight visits Riddler in Arkham, who confirms that Dr. Elliot was the physical body, but the Riddler is the brain called “Hush”.
4 The war of jokes and riddles
Early in Batman’s career, the Joker discovers he is incapable of laughing. Desperate to solve the puzzle of a humorless Joker, the Riddler orchestrates an entire war between himself and the Joker in order to give the Clown Prince of Crime a good laugh.
Without realizing it, Batman plays into Riddler’s plans. Batman only realizes that the War of Jokes and Riddles is itself a great enigma when Nygma explains that he is responsible for the conflict that has killed thousands of citizens of Gotham City.
3 The Riddle of the Minotaur
The Riddler delivers real thinkers in Batman: The Animated Series. His maze and minotaur riddle exemplify his sophistication as a criminal, but also characterize him for the series. The riddle also appears in Batman: arkham asylum. Riddler takes his former employer hostage and traps him in the center of his minotaur maze.
The dynamic duo race to save the man, having to thwart the Riddler’s various deadly traps, but ultimately reach the middle. There they receive the Minotaur’s riddle: “I have billions of eyes, yet I live in darkness. I have millions of ears but only four lobes. I have no muscle, yet I governs two hemispheres. What am I?” Batman replies, “The human brain…the only thing Edward Nygma respects”, then saves the hostage and subdues the Riddler.
2 “What is the riddle?”
In The Riddler’s Issue in DC’s New Line, a bad day, by Tom King and Mitch Gerads, readers witness the real danger Nygma poses. Without warning, he murders a random man in broad daylight. To prove his intellectual superiority, Riddler leaves no trace and collects information on every policeman, Arkham guard, and any witness families.
By doing so, Riddler makes custody unnecessary since no one will risk the safety of their loved ones to detain him. Without leaving his usual network of clues, the Riddler tramples all the police and Commissioner Gordon. “What is the riddle? Gordon asks Batman, not realizing that Nygma’s unusual behavior is the enigma.
1 “Where is Jason’s body now?”
Batman assembles nearly all of the pieces surrounding “Hush” all by himself in Batman: Hush. The Dark Knight travels to Arkham and checks the story with Edward Nigma, the mastermind behind Hush.
Finally, Batman asks the Riddler, “His grave is empty. Where is Jason [Todd]is the body now?” The Riddler answers the question with a question, “That’s a riddle, isn’t it?” Enraged, Batman punches him and leaves. However, Jason’s whereabouts are revealed in later storylines and turn out to be even stranger than Riddler’s enigmatic and sardonic response suggests.
NEXT: The Joker’s 9 Cruelest Attacks On The Bat Family