How Riddler Learned, Then Forgot, Batman’s Secret Identity

Today, we look at how the Riddler learned Batman’s secret identity only to lose it later on

This is “Never Gonna Be the Same Again,” a feature where I look at how bold, seemingly “permanent” changes were ultimately reversed. This is not a criticism, mind you, as obviously things are always going to eventually return to “normal.” That’s just how superhero comic books work. It’s just fun to see how some of these rather major changes are reversed. This is differentiated from “Abandoned Love,” which is when a new writer comes in and drops the plot of the previous writer. Here, we’re talking about the writer who came up with the idea being the same one who resolved the change. This is also differentiated from “Death is Not the End,” which is about how “dead” characters came back to life, since this is about stuff other than death.

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HOW DID RIDDLER LEARN BATMAN’S SECRET IDENTITY?

I imagine most of you are aware of it, but just in case you’re not, “Hush” was a popular Batman storyline written by Jeph Loeb and drawn by Jim Lee and Scott Williams that saw Batman terrorized by a mysterious new bandaged villain known ace Hush. In Batman #615 (by Loeb, Lee and Williams), Batman and Nightwing were reflecting on how a variety of Batman’s rogues and allies were manipulated by some unknown person…


Their brainstorming (or, as Oracle called it, “male bonding”) was interrupted by news that the Riddler has committed an armed robbery along with a riddle of “What’s got four wheels, costs eleven million dollars and flies?”…


The Riddler thinks that he has gotten away, but Batman stops him and reveals the answer to the riddle, “A solid gold garbage truck”…


The Dark Knight then notes that while his other villains were all manipulated by this unknown person, the Riddler was just doing a normal crime and thus did not appear to have been manipulated like the others, which made Batman sort of laugh at how much of a loser Riddler was, that he couldn’t even be involved in this scheme. But then he noticed ash in the ambulance that led Batman to the Lazarus Pit, thinking that the villainous Hush was using Riddler as a patsy to send Batman looking at Ra’s al-Ghul…


As it turned out, someone had used a Lazarus Pit without al-Ghul’s permission, which is apparently a whole to-do. Anyhow, Batman had to deal with all of that as well as the reveal of Hush as Batman’s old childhood friend, Thomas Elliot, who resented that Bruce Wayne was able to be without his parents of him when he was a kid (as Tommy hated his parents of him). However, when it was all settled and Tommy was seemingly killed, Batman realized that there was actually a SECRET mastermind behind the whole deal, and he went to confront the mastermind at Arkham Asylum and noted how someone told Tommy that Bruce Wayne was Batman and set the whole thing into action through cutting deals with the various Batman rogues, even convincing the Joker to get involved and it was…


yep, the Riddler! Well, I guess you would get that from the fact that this is an article about Riddler. As it turns out, the Riddler was dying of a brain tumor, so he sought out a Lazarus Pit and used it without permission. When he emerged from the Lazarus Pit, other people sort of went insane, but with Riddler, it gave him some instant clarity and he realized that Batman was Bruce Wayne…


However, Batman cleverly counters that it doesn’t really do the Riddler any good to know Batman’s secret identity, as he can’t share it with anyone, as a riddle that EVERYONE knows is a worthless one…


Plus, Ra’s al-Ghul wants to kill whoever used his Lazarus Pit without his permission, so if Riddler reveals Batman’s identity, Batman can counter with mutually assured destruction…


Okay, the Riddler then went on a few different (progressively worse) misadventures based on this new status quo of him as a mastermind who knows Batman’s secret identity. I’ll probably right about at least one of them in the future (it takes edgelord concepts to an absurd degree).

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THE RIDDLER LOST BATMAN’S SECRET IDENTITY BUT GAINED A CHANGE OF HEART

Anyhow, in Infinite Crisis #7 (by Geoff Johns, Phil Jimenez, George Pérez, Ivan Reis, Joe Bennett, Andy Lanning, Jerry Ordway, Sean Parsons, Art Thibert, Jeromy Cox, Guy Major, Tanya Horie and Richard Horie), the Riddler was one of the many villains who attacked Metropolis at the end of the storyline and the superhero, Shining Knight, brained the Riddler with a mace…


Well, a year later, we see that the Riddler’s brain injury had now led him to become a good guy and in Detective Comics #822 (by Paul Dini, Don Kramer, Wayne Faucher and John Kalisz), as he embarked on a new career as a consulting detective, now using his brilliance to SOLVE crimes…


Batman then confirms that the Riddler’s brain injury made it so that he barely knows his own name, let alone who Batman secretly was…


However, it is amusing to see that the Riddler still does see something about Bruce Wayne that piques his curiosity…


Anyhow, that new set-up lasted a few years before Batman #693 (by Tony Daniel, Sandu Florea and Ian Hannin), which came out during a period where Dick Grayson was filling in as Batman for Bruce Wayne (who was believed to be dead). The Riddler was at a society event when an explosion occurred…


The explosion messed Riddler’s head up and made him a villain once more…


So the Riddler was back to being a villain but he no longer had the memory of Batman’s secret identity, so the status quo was successfully reset.

Thanks to my pal, Tom A., for the suggestion for this one. If anyone else has a suggestion for a future Never Gonna Be the Same Again, drop me a line at [email protected] And as always, “And Dr. Strange. ;)”

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