Tuesday, April 25, 2006
I Wear Green And Purple And A Punctuation Mark. Who Am I?
Guess who that guy is. Yup! It's the Riddler! Believe it or not. This image is from "Detective Comics Annual" #8 (1995) by Chuck Dixon and Kieron Dwyer. It's the story that made me love the Riddler. Which was a feat tantamount to sending a manned spacecraft to Pluto, since before I'd always hated the guy. Dixon and Dwyer managed to make the querying l'il irritant sympathetic with this origin story, which chronicles the Riddler's arduous journey from the small time to the big leagues. And it's reflected perfectly in his costumes.
That was his first attempt at a costume, up there. I love the stocking cap. So low-rent, it's kinda charming. And the question mark was painted on. Beautiful. It puts me in mind of the DIY badguys in Bob Burden's comics. It looks like any second now, Bondo-Man or Jumpin' Jehosaphat is going to plow into him and beat him senseless.
The Riddler tried a little harder for his next job.
Here we have the introduction of purple into the Riddler's costume. And how 'bout those accessories? He's bolstered his confidence with not one, but two phallic symbols! (And he then touches the tips of them together. I don't think Freud had a chapter on that one.) But white for the question mark? Oh, honey, no.
And now a little sumpin' for the breeders!
The Riddler's costume here -- *ahem!* Eyes to the center of the panel, buster! I'll get to the Skanks of Prey in just a sec. Anyhow, this is the first version of the costume that most folks associate with the Riddler. Thanks to the old TV show, natch. Although I'm pretty sure that one didn't have a big leather belt holding up the tights. Not seen in this panel: black boots with really thick soles. And you just know those gloves are Playtex. Like I said, first attempt. But the crudity of it all is almost sweet. If you're wondering about why the Riddler's nose looks so odd in this panel, it's because it's bandaged. Because it keeps getting broken, because the Riddler keeps mouthing off to brawny thugs and they keep punching him in the face. Example dialog from the previous page:
Denglar (brawny thug): The police will be on to us like stink on fish.
Riddler: Well, Denglar, I've got a riddle for you. How do you keep an idiot waiting?
Denglar: I dunno.
Riddler: I'll tell you later.
And then Denglar punches the Riddler in the face.
Still, I never cared much for this outfit, especially in its refined, unitard version. Maybe because it was almost too theatrical -- and I know it appeared in comics first, but it really seems to me like the product of somebody who never read comics, and it was their idea of a SUPER! (in a Big Gay Al voice) costume.
Oooohhhkay. How 'bout those floozies, fellas? The one on the left needs to unbuckle a couple of things, because they're cutting off the blood supply to her head. Nice heart-shaped earrings, by the way. This is what the Care Bears cartoon would have been like, if it had been produced by Vince McMahon. Also, check out the spiked thigh-band or whatever that thing's supposed to be. She'll puncture a vital artery if she puts her thighs too close together -- like that's ever going to happen! Nice Devo sunglasses on the other gal. Either that, or somebody pulled an "X-23" with Cyclops' DNA.
I tried to picture what these ladies would look like if they'd been drawn by Dick Sprang. It gave me a tummy ache.
YEAH, BOY! There's the Riddler I love! Finally, a dapper, dandyish look to go with the cocky attitude! And so generous! When he was at the haberdashers and they gave him his bowler hat, he said, "Y'know what? I'd like to buy a round of bowler hats for the house! Bowler hats for everybody!" And then the place went apeshit.
It's a great look for the guy. Very crisp, very polished, and it's all about creating an impression -- right down to the painstakingly pomaded hair with a single loose forelock for a bit of boyish charm. (It worked for Superman and it works for the Riddler.)
His hench-gals still look like whores, but hey, whatever works for them.