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Name: Edward Nygma
Alias: The Riddler
Age: 36
Canon: Batman '66 (aka "Batman: The TV Show")
Notes: Canon Riddler has little backstory, and I have drawn most of it from a combination of comics canon and headcanon, with slight inspiration from the life of his actor Frank Gorshin. By default I put his year of origin as 1969.

Background: Born in 1933 to two unwilling parents, Edward Nygma was a troublemaker from day one. His unusual interests, ever-questioning nature and abnormally high intelligence made him intolerable both to his peers and to his abusive, anti-intellectual father. Edward dropped out of school at age 17 and took up a job with a traveling carnival running rigged games. When he tired of carnie life he jumped ship and made most of his living as a con man, unable to keep a lawful job for more than six months before growing bored or mouthing off to his boss. His short ambitions of stand-up comedy were throttled by his inability to stop mocking his audience's stupidity and he found himself repeatedly booed off the stage. Frustrated by the idiocy of the general populace and their inability to understand his genius, Edward donned the moniker "The Riddler" and turned to high-profile crimes to draw attention to himself.

To his surprise, he was almost immediately thwarted by Batman and Robin. He had assumed the caped defenders of justice to be dullards but Batman proved to have an intellect almost on his own level--Riddler refuses to consider that Batman might actually surpass him. As Batman repeatedly defeated his schemes Riddler developed an obsession with defeating the man in the dark cowl. All his crimes were prefaced with riddles intended to draw Batman and Robin towards him, only to capture them at the last moment and threaten them with horrible doom. Unfortunately, the dynamic duo always found a way out of his traps, causing his schemes to inevitably be brought to a handcuffed halt.

(Upon one rare occasion he did deign to share the spotlight. A wealthy eccentric named Gomez Addams offered him a large sum for the chance to be a supervillain for a day. Riddler created a masterful riddling scheme for Gomez and then allowed him to don the costume and carry it out, building in a careful contingency to make sure Batman and Robin would not die by another man's hand. Despite their vastly different appearances and voices Batman either didn't notice the swap or didn't care.)

His most daring crime to date was the kidnapping and ransom of seven international delegates during an alliance with Penguin, Joker, and Catwoman. While Penguin was the de facto leader of "Underworld United", Riddler was the group's main planner and organizer. Batman and Robin thwarted their scheme at the last moment, in part due to Riddler's insistence on giving out helpful riddles against the will of the other members of the group.

Post-arrest Riddler is housed in either the Gotham State Penitentiary or the maximum security wing of Arkham Psychiatric Institute. However, the lenient legal system and inferior security mean he rarely spends much time behind bars.

Personality: Riddler's most marked trait is his vivacity and enthusiasm for all that he does. This is quickly followed by an immense egotism completely out of proportion with his own success rate. He hops from one plan to another in rapid succession, each more over the top than the last, praising his own genius all the way. In his default state he is hyperactive and easily given to both joy and rage. He seems unable to sit still and will often curl on on top of tables or boxes rather than sit in a chair like a normal person. Riddler often nibbles on pens or his own fingers, as if it's the only way to keep his mouth from running.

Riddler's love of puzzles and ciphers consumes all aspects of his criminal career. He believes that crime is pointless without riddles, and often sabotages otherwise functional plans in order to slip in riddling clues to the Dynamic Duo. For him, the point of the caper is the performance rather than the prize. This is carried to the extent that he considers "Riddler" to be his true name and "Edward Nygma" to be merely an artifact of a previous, inferior man who no longer exists.

While many of Gotham's archcriminals could be considered eccentric, even his peers consider the Riddler to be legitimately insane. They acknowledge his intelligence but rarely team up with him due to his instability. His Arkham file lists him as diagnosed with manic depressive disorder (known to 21st century doctors as bipolar I disorder). As in all things his actual mindset exceeds definition but the theory may be borne out by the manic behavior he displays during his crimes, followed by weeks or months of withdrawn, uninspired darkness.

Physical Description: Riddler is of medium height, with a lanky but not athletic build. He has light brown hair with a widow's peak and nimble safe-cracker fingers. There are a few small scars on his body from various misadventures. He has two main criminal outfits. The first is a light green unitard with a single question mark on the chest, accessorized with purple half-mask and belt. The second is a more formal dark green suit covered in question marks, often paired with a black derby and golden question mark tie pin. He likes question marks, is what we're saying.

Abilities/Weaknesses: Riddler's genius and fervor makes him one of Gotham's most dangerous archcriminals. Batman often laments that Riddler's genius would be a great boon to society should he ever reform. He has invented a number of gadgets or modified the design of others for malicious purposes, as well as constructing complex plots that challenge the intellect of Gotham's greatest crimesolvers. He is usually aided in his schemes by two to three henchmen, as well as an attractive henchwoman, but they rarely come up to his own intellectual standards.

Unfortunately, Riddler's strength is also his weakness. He is easily bored or distracted, even from his own work. His ego makes him few friends, as he cannot accept that anyone might be his equal or superior. While he is very flirtatious he has never held down an actual relationship, as he could never meet another person on equal intellectual grounds. If he ever broke the habit of leaving behind riddles there's a good chance his schemes might actually succeed, but he refuses to even consider removing them from his plans.
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The Riddler

January 2014

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