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Batman punches the Riddler right good. Riddler flies towards the viewer in a panel from Batman: Hush. Image: Jeph Loeb, Jim Lee/DC Comics

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What actually happened when Riddler discovered Batman’s secret identity

A look back at Edward Nygma’s highest and lowest moment

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Here at Polygon we like to spend (almost) every Monday celebrating the best moments in comics from the past week, but today I’d like to start with something a little different. In honor of The Batman, the Riddler’s first live-action, big-screen appearance since 1995, I need to talk about my favorite Riddler moment ever.

See, for a good long stretch of DC Comics time before the 2011 reboot, the Riddler was fully aware that Batman was Bruce Wayne. He’d figured it out all on his own because, well, if characters like Ra’s al Ghul and Bane could simply deduce Batman’s true identity, then it follows the hyper-intelligent Riddler could as well. This was a big addition to the short list of supervillains who knew Batman’s big secret, most of whom could be trusted with the information for reasons of sympathy or honor.

The Riddler, on the other hand, hates Batman’s guts and loves lording information over people. So you might ask yourself: How did Batman keep Eddie Nygma from spilling the beans all over Gotham?

The answer makes complete sense, and is also ferociously stupid.

What else is happening in the pages of our favorite comics? We’ll tell you. Welcome to Monday Funnies, Polygon’s weekly list of the books that our comics editor enjoyed this past week. It’s part society pages of superhero lives, part reading recommendations, part “look at this cool art.” There may be some spoilers. There may not be enough context. But there will be great comics. (And if you missed the last edition, read this.)


Batman: Hush

“What time is it when an elephant sits on a fence?” Batman asks the Riddler. “‘Time to get a new fence.’” he replies. “Everyone knows that one. It’s worthless.” “That’s why I have nothing to fear from you,” Batman says, in Batman: Hush. Image: Jeph Loeb, Jim Lee/DC Comics
“Riddles are your compulsion. Your addiction.” Batman tells the Riddler, “And a riddle that everyone knows the answer to is ‘worthless.’” The Riddler adjusts hits hat. Then raises a finger to protest. Then lowers it without saying anything. Then collapses onto the table in front of himself, eyes wide in disbelief. “Get out,” he whispers in Batman: Hush. Image: Jeph Loeb, Jim Lee/DC Comics

When the Riddler asserts that his new knowledge gives him the ultimate knife at Batman’s throat, Batman counters with an apparent non sequitur: What time is it when an elephant sits on a fence? And when Riddler scoffs at this, a riddle that everyone knows the answer to, Batman leans in, and tells him that that’s exactly why he’ll never tell anyone that Bruce Wayne is Batman. Because a riddle that everyone knows the answer to isn’t a riddle at all.

It’s an absolute farce of a reason, made even more hilarious when it’s growled out of Batman’s cowl, somehow in shadow even in a brightly lit room. But then, that’s the Riddler! That’s the long and the short of him! A man whose mind irresistibly turns him against his own interests, trapping him in a loop of compulsion. Artist Jim Lee fully sells horror of someone who knows this is the dumbest possible reason to be unable to ruin his enemy’s life, and still cannot do it. Definitive, definitive Riddler stuff.

X-Men #9

“We both love her Irene,” says Gambit to Destiny as he walks away from her, “But the difference is my love don’t come with no strings attached. Destiny’s impassive mask watches him go, and then she lifts her hands in a mock strangling gesture, hissing “HATE. YOU.” in X-Men #9 (2022). Image: Gerry Duggan, C. F. Villa/Marvel Comics

Destiny’s role in the whole Krakoan era has been to be ominous, powerful, and utterly poised, so this quick beat of her impotent rage at having Gambit for a son-in-law (she and Mystique raised Rogue, Rogue married Gambit back in 2018) is shockingly delightful.

She-Hulk #2

Dressed in full business attire, She-Hulk lifts an ambulance out of bumper to bumper traffic with her bare hands, and sets it down in a clear intersection. Then she dusts off her hands, and leaves her business card “Jennifer Walters, Attorney” tucked in the rear window in She-Hulk #2 (2022). Image: Rainbow Rowell, Rogê Antônio/Marvel Comics

I’m a She-Hulk fan and a Rainbow Rowell comics fan to begin with, but two issues in and ... I’m head over heels in love with Rainbow Rowell’s She-Hulk. I have no idea what’s going on with the main superhero plot because I’ve never even heard of Jack of Hearts before, but any book that spends two whole pages just on the superhero’s commute to their day job — a commute where they spot an ambulance stuck in bumper to bumper traffic and decide to help out — that’s a great book.

Devil’s Reign: X-Men #2

“...You were just a boy,” Emma frost says to Spider-Man, and then kisses him on the cheek and thanks him for what he does as a superhero in Devil’s Reign: X-Men #2 (2022). Image: Gerry Duggan, Phil Noto/Marvel Comics

Look! I’m a sucker! I’m a sucker for exactly this kind of thing! In a chance early meeting with Spider-Man, Emma Frost does a quick mind meld with Peter Parker because she needs to get him out of the way and wipe his memories of ever having seen her and in the process she downloads all of his trauma in half a second. (That download is communicated through a beautiful Phil Noto splash page telling the entire story of Spider-Man from Uncle Ben to Gwen Stacy.)

And the Ice Queen’s reaction? The only one she would ever have: seeing Peter Parker for the wounded and trying little boy that he is. Like I said, I’m a sucker!

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