Real Name: Edward 'E. Nygma' Nashton
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The Riddler's background is, appropriately enough, shrouded in mystery, and has been altered many times in retcons. The current story is that he was born Edward Nashton. As a young man, he was fascinated by puzzles and riddles and was very good at them, both because he was very smart and because he always cheated. When he grew up, he made a living at carnivals challenging customers to match wits with him, but eventually he sought greater excitement and turned to crime.
After enjoying great success as an ordinary criminal, he decided to match wits with the world's greatest detective, Batman. Donning a costume and calling himself the Riddler, he set up a series of daring crimes all across Gotham, but always sent a clue to Batman and the police in the form of a riddle or puzzle, which Batman inevitably solved just in time.
As revealed during the recent storyline "Hush," the Riddler, who was suffering from terminal cancer, was being treated by Dr. Thomas Elliot, a childhood friend of Batman's who held a deep-seated grudge against him. Elliot arranged for the Riddler to take a dip in Ra's al Ghul's rejuvenating Lazarus Pit, which cured him of his cancer. During the bout of temporary insanity that follows immersion in the Pit, the Riddler realized that Bruce Wayne was Batman.
Working together, the Riddler and Dr. Elliot, who became the costumed criminal Hush, orchestrated a massive and complex scheme to bring down Batman which stretched over an entire year of comics and would eventually involve Superman, the Joker, Poison Ivy, Catwoman, Jason Todd, Harley Quinn, Clayface, Scarecrow, Two-Face, and Killer Croc.
After the scheme was exposed and failed, Hush returned to take his vengeance on the Riddler, beating him to within an inch of his life. The Riddler sought out the Joker for protection, offering the mad clown the identity of his wife's killer in exchange for Hush's death, but Hush and his new partner, the villain Prometheus, defeated the Joker and his men. The Riddler attempted to find refuge with Poison Ivy, but she, still smarting over being used by the Riddler and Hush, instead psychologically tortured him to the breaking point.
After living on the streets for some time, the Riddler was taken in by an ex-NSA codebreaker who helped him to regain his skills at riddling and also to reach an epiphany regarding the motivation behind his compulsion. Unfortunately, the man also was exploiting the Riddler's skills at code-breaking for his own gain, passing his friend's work off as his own.
Killing the codebreaker, the Riddler embarked on one last scheme to best Batman. The plan, which involved a priceless scroll, a bomb on a commuter train, clues and holograms, an impostor, and a man who was who he said he was but was not quite what he seemed, eventually culminated in the Riddler finally outwitting Batman, an especially sweet victory given that Batman had cheated during the encounter.
Having rid himself of his compulsion, the Riddler amused himself by amassing a legitimate fortune using his intellect and by toying with the Green Arrow and Arsenal. During the Infinite Crisis, however, while working with the Secret Society of Super Villains during the Battle of Metropolis, he was hit on the head with a mace by the Shining Knight. The blow left him in a coma for much of the following year.
Awaking during the One Year Later storyline, the Riddler appears to have been completely cured of his criminal tendencies and to have suffered selective amnesia, which means that he has forgotten that Bruce Wayne is Batman. He now works as a highly-paid private investigator, a profession for which he seems uniquely skilled.
First Appearance: Detective Comics (1937) #140
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