Could you give us a quick run down on the Riddler's early life?
You can’t ask me to talk about Riddler and make it “quick” That’s pretty much impossible… but I’ll try. Hopefully you’ve gotten a chance to read his origin story? I’m going to assume you did because most of this stuff comes from there.
OK SO! Eddie has a lot of back stories just because he is a major Batman rogue. He’s done it all from being a mail man (origin story) to video game designer/creator (BtAS) to working at for GPCD (Arkham games and Gotham), ect ect. But there are two things that stay relatively constant throughout his criminal careers.
The frist is his home life as a child with his parents.
Ed grew up in a fairly typical white middle class American home. This is later changed in different issues to an apartment. It could be a writer’s error or something later happens to the family that isn’t talked about. I have a ton of headcanons on it but you wanted quick so by passing.
Fun fact, Eddie actually didn’t care much about school. [insert gasp] If those notes weren’t hints enough, he wasn’t a prodigy or born genius. He was just a normal kid who found school boring and wished his teacher would hang herself.
More proof. He said he was mediocre. Meaning he probably got a lot of C’s and D’s all the way up to sixth grade. Why does this matter? Because later on in a different issue we find out about Eddie’s abusive father.
Ok sooooooooooooo! Yes, Edward did cheat at the puzzle and this is actually where his deep seated need to always tell the truth (however twisted) comes into play. You can imagine where his father’s coming from. Mediocre son who’s never accomplished anything in his life, who has no friends, no social life, and no shared interests, suddenly becoming smart over night and winning a contest? Well he MUST HAVE CHEATED! In no way do I to support or excuse his dad’s behavior but now it doesn’t look so out of left field. There is no physically drawn out evidence of any farther abuse from his father but a ton of hints towards it. Where there’s smoke there’s a fire.
So we now we know about Ed’s relationship with his dad. But let’s talk about his dad’s relationship with his mom. Apparently it was a casual thing to hear his parents fighting. It could be this one night only they were throwing dishes and pans but I’m going out on a limb to say it happens more often than you’d like to think. Poor baby, not only does he have to hear his parents fighting, he finds out they’re fighting about him. “They were blaming each other for me”. There are many ways to interpret this: he could mean they were fighting about how he’s turned out OR he means they were fighting about him being alive at all. My two cents is that Ed was born out of wedlock and his parents had to get marry because it was back in the day so his parents held resentment towards him for that. This can be backed up with the fact that Ed mentions his mom was distant towards him (probably never hugged the poor child) and it’s later mentioned by James Gordon that Riddler was thought to have hated his mother. Apparently Ed complained about her enough that people just assumed he hated her.
In new52′s retelling of Riddler’s origin, Edward comments about his checkered past which could be a throw back to when he ran a crooked carnival booth involving a diabolical puzzle, from the old comics.
After childhood is when his road splits off into different career choices and ways of embracing the Riddler persona. Now we come to the second constant in his transformation to Riddler; the motive. There are two driving forces that tipped Edward over the edge. Recognition and Boredom.
- In his original origin story, he was bored of his work-a-day life and went to crime
- In BTAS Edward was cheated out of a game he created by Daniel Mockridge and tried to kill the man
- In The Batman similar story as BTAS only throw in a love interest
- In the Arkham games he did it because he could
- In New52 Philip called him an empty question mark and that no one would know or care about.
Surprisingly for a man so OCD about riddles, they came as a side effect to his life of crime instead of the main driving force. Which could be why during the early stages of his career Riddler protested his mental instability because to him, he was in control of his riddles, not the other way around.