Batman Vol. 1 #171: Stupid, Flawless Batman Logic
Posted October 9, 2009on:
How can anyone hope to solve a crime when the Silver Age Riddler is involved? I mean, yeah, he’s dropping clues like crazy, but honestly, these are the most vague fucking clues EVER. You’d have better luck if you just ignored his clues entirely and did some actual detective work. I don’t know if ol’ Nigma’s riddles can possibly get much goofier than they did in Batman #171, “the Remarkable Ruse of the Riddler.”
The issue opens to Eddie Nigma standing across a desk from the warden of the aptly named State Penitentiary; he’s receiving a wad of your hard earned tax dollars for being good and making parole. In exchange, Eddie asks the warden a riddle (“Why do the cons in this prison call it ‘Fiddler’s Inn?'”) with the promise of giving him the answer when and if he returns. After some anti-Batman inner monologue, Eddie buys himself a newspaper and reads that Batman is struggling to capture the Molehill Mob. This pisses attention-whore Eddie right the fuck off so he promises to “do something about this.”
The next day, Eddie is hanging outside of the police headquarters, like you do, when he catches Batman and Robin just kinda milling about. They don’t recognize him out of costume so he asks them that “once in a minute, twice in a moment” riddle. “Oh, shit, you’re the Riddler!” cries Robin, prompting the stupidest fucking origin story ever.
As a kid, Edward Nigma “won an historical jigsaw puzzle” by taking a picture of it, so he turned to a life of puzzle based crime. By this logic, if you look at the picture on the box of any puzzle before completing it, you’re a terrible human being and you will probably spend the rest of your life committing elaborate crimes. My grandmother is a terrible human being.
Anyways, Batman just assumes that the Riddler is about to give him the clue to his next crime. Au contraire! It turns out that the Riddler has turned over a new leaf and is only interested in helping capture the Molehill Mob! Ever the brilliant mind, Batman replies with “HUH?!” and then thinks about the Molehill Mob. Apparently, this gang giving Batman and Robin so much trouble is, like, three or four unarmed guys who are remarkably good at navigating the sewers after knocking over banks (Did the Turtles go rogue?). The Riddler does have one condition for helping, however: he wishes to wear his “working clothes” (what is he, a hooker?).
After a one-panel interlude of Bruce and Dick playing Scrabble (totally necessary, I guess?) we cut to the Riddler, Batman, and Robin jumping into the sewers. Despite being stuck in prison and never even hearing of this gang until after he was released the freaking day before, the Riddler is able to lead our heroes straight to the Molehill Mob, no problem. The gang springs a few sewer-themed traps in an attempt to thwart Batman and Robin (rolling manhole covers, giant spools of wire, what I’m pretty sure are creepy hentai tentacles), but the Dynamic Duo escapes easily. Then, I guess everybody just goes home.
Two days later, Batman and Robin are hanging out at the Police Athletic League picnic at the park when they discover a riddle in their picnic basket! “What is the longest word in the world?” Time for Batman logic: it turns out the answer is “smiles,” because there’s a “mile” between the first and last letter! And hold the phone, there’s a man named “Smiles” Dawson who owns a fancy yacht, the Black Pearl of the Pacific, at the Gotham City Marina! Let’s roll!
Batman & Robin head to the marina and, after escaping the Riddler’s worst puzzle trap ever (honestly, look at that picture and tell me how you’d NOT be able to escape), they confront the villain. Yeah, turns out ‘Smiles’ just bought the yacht for $30,000 and “forgot” about the puzzle traps that shoot out of the car when you hit that hidden button in the glove compartment (I completely understand, I’m always hitting those damn secret glove compartment buttons). Everybody laughs it off and the Riddler bails.
But wait! He left another riddle! “How is an orange like a bill?” Simple! They both must be peeled/pealed! Oh, nothing reads like a joke that only works when said aloud! Anyways, it turns out that the Peale Art Gallery is in Gotham and is currently hosting the Fancy-Ass Shit exhibit. Let’s roll (again)!
They show up just in time to see the Riddler pointing a pistol at a very frightened looking man handing him an ivory cross covered in rubies!The Dynamic Duo break in and tackle Eddie, bringing his ass to justice. Suddenly, the frightened looking man yells, “But the Riddler didn’t steal the cross, Batman!” Que el fuck? Turns out, Eddie’s uncle died and left him the cross in his will, the gun was actually a cigarette lighter, and the man’s frightened expression was just poor genes or whatever. Once again, the Riddler gets to walk away, but not after telling Our Heroes that they’ve already got the next riddle. Riveting!
Back in the Batmobile, Robin comes to a startling conclusion. The boat was called the Black Pearl! The cross was red and white! “What’s black and white and red/read all over?” A newspaper! And it just so happens to be the Gotham Times 100th anniversary tonight! Doesn’t matter, by the way. Robin’s wrong.
They hightail it to one of Gotham’s “gay night spots” (uh, wink?), the western-themed Ox Club just in time to see the Riddler going through the manager’s safe! But it’s cool, the Riddler assumes a weird stance and gives up. Nope, just joshin’, instead the most confusing fight ever breaks out. The Riddler’s suit turns electric and he becomes impossible to knock over, like one of those Weebles from the 70s. The Riddler’s henchmen run in and Batman & Robin proceed to make Wild West puns that are so bad, the underlings vanish into thin air. They turn their attention back to the Riddler and punch the shit out of him, not really doing any damage. Batman realizes that the weird stance I mentioned earlier was the Riddler hitting a secret button on his chest, pumping himself full of painkillers. Batman re-hits the chest button like a Lord Zedd Putty, turns off the drugs, and punches the Riddler in the stomach. But how ever did Batman figure out where the Riddler would be?
Forget the colors, the clues were in the shapes. Or something. Whatever, fucking Batman logic. The boat was called the Black Pearl and pearls are round, the cross was a cross and crosses are cross-shaped. Put a round-shaped thing next to a cross-shaped thing and you get the word “ox” (but not “to” or anything with the initials “O.X.,” “X.O.,” “T.O.,” or “O.T.”) which means it HAD to be the Ox Club. Case closed, brain exploded.
But what about the riddle Eddie gave the Warden back on page one? Well, it turns out the inmates call State Penitentiary the “Fiddler’s Hotel” because it’s such a “vile inn/violin!” Wait, really? That’s the worst joke ever. Dude, Eddie? Shut the fuck up.