The Riddler: Year One: Paul Dano Hopes the Origin Comic is a Cautionary Tale (Exclusive)

Trauma impacts everyone differently. For some, trauma and traumatic experiences pushes them toward something constructive while, for others, things take a darker turn. This is especially true on the pages of comic books with one of the most well-known examples of the impact of trauma being the story of Batman, who turns the experience of having witnessed the murder of his parents as a young child into a lifelong crusade against crime. But Batman isn't the only comics character whose trauma is a major point in their origin. It factors into the story of Edward Nashton/The Riddler as well. Initially brought to life on screen by Paul Dano, the character is getting an origin comic this month from DC, The Riddler: Year One, penned by Dano himself that digs into Nashton's story and the path he takes to becoming Batman's chilling foe. And for Dano, he hopes that the story is, in a sense, something of a cautionary tale.

Speaking with, Dano talked about finding the balance between the reality that the world is indeed unfair to Edward Nashton and the toxicity that ultimately brings to both his worldview and his outcomes with Dano saying The Riddler: Year One is very much an emotional horror story.

"That's a really good question, and it's something I've thought about because it's different to be inside of the character. I have to empathize. I have to find some doorway in to the person as an actor," Dano said. "But now as a storyteller, telling the comic and having to step out of it as well, one has to think about what's it saying and blah blah, blah. And because we know where he goes to a certain degree, there's no happy ending here. That's not a spoiler. So, my hope is that it's almost like a cautionary tale if anything."

He continued, "Yes. I think that one thing that the first conversation Matt Reeves and I ever had were about the two sides of trauma, and Bruce Wayne and how he uses his trauma. And then Edward, unfortunately, uses his trauma in another way. So, I've always seen this comic as an emotional horror story about trauma. And there's both nature and nurture at work. I mean, I don't think you necessarily get to the point that Edward gets to without your nature having some disposition that might, but it doesn't happen necessarily without nurture as well." Dano went on to explain that the first issue of The Riddler: Year One is the most empathetic in terms of Nashton's character and that the story evolves the deeper the reader goes.

"Now it's different in real life, and every person's different and blah blah, blah. I mean for this guy it was important that nurture also played a role because we were talking about Gotham, and how this was a sick city, and it was failing. And so, I'll be curious how you think about that element because it continues to evolve," Dano said. "Issue one, I would say, is the most empathetic, but also, I think you see his sort of toxic negative thinking as well, and his intrusive thoughts. So, I hope it's clear that this is also somebody who's struggling."

What is The Riddler: Year One about?

Here's how DC describes The Riddler: Year One: "As depicted in Matt Reeves's hit movie The Batman, the Riddler wasn't simply an amusing eccentric with an affinity for wordplay and baffling clues, but as terrifying a villain as any in the annals of the Dark Knight. Here you can see Edward Nashton evolve into the menace known as the Riddler. How did an unknown forensic accountant uncover the dark secrets of Gotham's underworld and come so close to bringing down the entire city? This six-issue miniseries is an immediate prequel to The Batman—the detailed, disturbing, and at times shocking story of a man with nothing to lose.

Artist Stevan Subic makes his American comics debut, including a variant cover that is the first of six interlocking covers. This collaboration with Paul Dano delivers a shadowy and gritty tale of a society's forgotten man who refuses to go unnoticed any longer. Subic's recent Conan the Cimmerian for French publisher Glenat has brought him great acclaim in Europe, and he's about to break out globally with a Batman series unlike any you've seen before."

The Riddler: Year One #1, written by Dano with art by Stevan Subic, goes on sale October 25th.