Batman – One Bad Day: The Riddler Review

Batman - One Bad Day: The Riddler feature image
The Riddler is one of Batman's most intellectual villains and the one who lays out his clues the most deliberately. The Riddler is always playing a game, there are always rules. But what happens when The Riddler kills someone in broad daylight for seemingly no reason? No game to play. No cypher to breakdown. Batman will reach his wit's end trying to figure out the Riddler's true motivation in this incredible thriller!

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Batman - One Bad Day: The Riddler Cover

Batman - One Bad Day: The Riddler

By Tom King and Mitch Gerads 

  • Original Graphic Novel
  • Publisher : DC 
  • Release : 8/16/2022
  • Hardcover : 88 pages
  • Dimensions : 7″ x 10.5″
  • Reading Age : 17+ years (mature)
  • MSRP : $17.99

An instant classic by the Dynamic Duo (King/Gerads)

I read this book and immediately recognized I was reading something special and purposeful both in regards to the Batman mythos and mainstream comics. I wasn’t alone, as the story would go on to win the 2023 Eisner Award for Best Single Issue/One-Shot. Technically, the story is titled “Dreadful Reins” (which is an anagram for “riddles are fun”). In an interview with Popverse, King explained the title is a metaphor for the characters taking off their self-imposed limits (i.e. “reins”).     

The premise of Batman: One Bad Day

The “Batman: One Bad Day” was a series of prestige one-shot issues featuring each of Batman’s key villains with a call-back to Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s 1988 classic Batman: The Killing Joke.  

"The pitch that was made to us by the company was its been 35 years since 'The Killing Joke', can we do that again...can we do that to the Riddler? Can we make him as important, as big, as frightening as the joker?"
Tom King
Tom King
The Killing Joke One Bad Day

In “Batman: The Killing Joke”, Joker claims “All it takes is ONE BAD DAY to reduce the sanest man alive to lunacy. That’s how far the world is from where I am. Just ONE BAD DAY.”

A little background on King & Gerads

Tom King and Mitch Gerads are one of the premier modern-day super-teams. They were first paired together on the 2015 DC Vertigo miniseries called “The Sheriff of Babylon“. Their first collaboration was a story set during the Iraq War, focusing on the challenges faced by an American contractor and an Iraqi police officer. The run received widespread acclaim for its gripping storytelling, authenticity, and Gerads’ exceptional artwork that brought depth and realism to the characters and setting.

After the success of “The Sheriff of Babylon”, the two creators began exploring opportunities for future collaborations. Gerads was brought in to do some guest spots for King’s main Batman run:

  • Batman #14 & 15 (January 2017) “Rooftops”: King and Gerads reveal a pivotal direction between Batman and Catwoman that influences the franchise for the next few years. 
  • Batman #23 (May 2017) “The Brave and the Mold”: In this issue, Gerads contributed art for a story that involved Batman teaming up with Swamp Thing.

King and Gerads hashed out a pitch for what would eventually become “The War of Jokes and Riddles” (Batman #25-32). However, DC had already pegged Mikel Janin to return as the series regular artist. As a result, DC editorial offered King/Gerads another project, which ultimately led to their monumental run on “Mister Miracle” beginning in August 2017. While Gerads has been quoted as being disappointed in not being able to tell his “dream Batman story”, he was excited to work on a lifelong favorite in Mister Miracle. Their “Mister Miracle” continued their streak of critical acclaim with both creators winning back-to-back Eisner awards in 2018 and 2019. The success cementing their status as a formidable creative team in the comic book industry. Their following collaboration, Strange Adventures, was another 12-issue miniseries released under the DC Black Label that also earned widespread industry praise.   

"You can go back to any interview I've done since I was notoriable enough to get interviews, and I was saying that my dream book is a really smart, Riddler/Batman book. And Tom has known that. That's what I've told him every time Tom has ever asked me what do you want to do next."
Mitch Gerads

Ties between "One Bad Day: The Riddler" & "The War of Jokes and Riddles"

The following is a scene written by Tom King (drawn by Mikel Janin) in Batman #25 (June 2017):

The following is a scene written by Tom King (drawn by Mitch Gerads) in Batman – One Bad Day: The Riddler (August 2022):

SPOILER: Both of these scenes involve the Riddler being transported by a squad of guards and he uses the same technique in both situations to overcome them. In both, he has managed to learn everything about the guards and their loved ones and threatens to kill their families upon his imminent or next escape. I have rarely seen a writer so blatantly copy from themselves, but given the origins of this unique scene dating all the way back to King/Gerads pitch in 2017, I’ve reconciled the likelihood that Gerads helped conceive the original scene and finally got to convey his vision for the scene with some slight variations.  

2023 CAP-Stone Award Winner for Best Single Issue / One-Shot

The Comics Appreciation Project (CAP) is an official 501c3 registered non-profit corporation created to foster an appreciation for the breadth, quality, and legitimacy of comic books and graphic-storytelling to both the public at large and specifically to the next generation of would-be consumers and creators. The CAP-Stone Awards honor the projects that best reflect the breadth and quality of graphic story-telling while also significantly expanding the medium’s legitimacy.

CAP-Stone Award for Best Single Issue or One-Shot

Check out a CBR Interview with creators Tom King and Mitch Gerads:

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