Puzzler

The last villain from the Batman tv series, following Mav‘s request, is the Puzzler, a quite obscure thief who was introduced in the show as a last-time replacement for the Riddler. Portrayed by Shakespearean actor Maurice Evans, the Puzzler is portrayed as a British rival to the Riddler, who uses riddles and enigmas for his crimes as well, usually quotes Shakespeare, and loves to use vanishing ink. In the comics, he didn’t originally face Batman, but just like the Archer, he comes from the rogue gallery of another famous superhero. Let’s see together (just as a reminder, also the Puzzler lives and operates on Earth-Two).

Born in Metropolis, real name unknown, the Puzzler was born a genius, or at least so he said. He found out that he had an unborn ability to solve puzzles and play games, and as he grew up, he realized that he could use that very talent to make a lot of money, if he played his cards well. Looking at the world as if it was a chessboard, and acting on consequence, he managed to build quite a criminal empire, with a remarkable number of subordinates. The thugs worked for him practically for free, as everytime he paid them, he challenged them to a cards game, winning their salary back instantly. His main activity was blackmailing important people, killing them if they didn’t pay him for protection (protection from himself, ironically). The first one who didn’t get scared and didn’t pay was Carl Prentice, the ping pong champion, and Puzzler tried to kill him with a tiny bomb hidden in one of the tournament’s balls; Prentice, however, was saved by Superman, who intervened even later, when he tried to have the champion killed by his marksmen. Realizing he needed to get famous in order to ensure future victims to pay immediately, he called for Clark Kent, a reporter from the Daily Bugle, for an exclusive interview, but instead of Kent Lois Lane arrived. The ambitious reporter wanted the exclusive for herself, but as soon as Superman arrived, the Puzzler tied her to her chair, and threatened to electrocute her if Superman didn’t accept his challenge. He faced the Man of Steel in a game of checkers, but as he realized he was losing, he tried to cheat by palming Superman’s pieces… but the hero did the same, and cheated using his super speed and moving the pieces on the board. As Superman won, Puzzler released Lois… only to activate yet another death trap, and escaping in the confusion that followed. He may had lost a game, but he surely had found an adversary worthy of his intellect.

The Puzzler challenged Superman with a jigsaw piece, with a single word on a side, and the name of a location on another. While the hero was collecting the pieces that formed the sentence “World’s Toughest Intellectual Game“, Puzzler was kidnapping Elmer King, John Bishop, Sylvia Queen, Cornelius Knight, and Philip Clausen, owner of a pawn shop. His victims were the solution of the riddle: king, bishop, queen, knight and pawn, all aimed to chess being the answer. Superman realized this, and tried to anticipate his enemy by going to the house of Amos Castle, the last “piece” on the chessboard, but there he found a dummy with a card pointed on its chest. This was yet another riddle, as “dummy” and “card” pointed to the bridge cards game being the solution. In his hideout under the city bridge, Puzzler was ready to exact his money from the people he had kidnapped, but he was found by Superman, who had solved his clues. Just as the hero was about to arrest him, he revealed one last abductee: Lois Lane, again. This time, the Puzzler challenged Superman to a cards game, but the Man of Steel used his X-ray vision to pretend that all the cards were marked, thus giving to Puzzler’s goons the impression that their boss had cheated when winning their salary back. Attacked by his own men, Puzzler was forced to escape, and when Superman, who had freed the hostages, confronted him, he used as last resolve to jump from the bridge, apparently to his death. Actually, the Puzzler was still alive, and he resurfaced far from Superman’s sight. Defeat, however, had made him a different man. Time later, to test himself, he participated to a card tournament, but he lost each and every game he participated to. Enraged, he vowed to kill all the champions who had defeated him, in the most ironic way possible. First, he beat to death the poker champion with a fire poker. This made him feel better, but he had a lot more to do: he had to cause the hearts champion a heart attack, to throw the bridge champion off a bridge, to serve poisoned rum to the rummy champion, and to kill the casino champion in the city’s casino…

The Puzzler is a brilliant and clever man, but also a murderous maniac who crafted a criminal empire for the sole purpose of earning easy money at the expense of others. He’s a genius in solving games just as well as he is in cheating, and he never loses, in a way or another. As skillful a planner and careful a tactician he may be, the Puzzler’s sin is vanity, and he constantly leaves a trail of clues for his enemies to find as a challenge to their intellect: his arrogance in believing to always be the smartest guy in the room can’t bring anything good to him…

Advertisements