Lego presents: a brief history of Riddler’s henchgirls (part 2).
Whew, this thing took longer than I thought it would. Let’s go ahead with the second (and last) part of this series!
Fig. 1: Come early 1998, someone else finally began to use Dixon’s iteration of the henchgirls. Writer Ron Marz and artist Rodolfo Damaggio created the mostly-silent story “Maintaining Appearances” for Batman 80-Page Giant #1, keeping not only Query and Echo’s respective hairstyles but also Query’s trademark(?) peaked cap.
Fig. 2: Once again, back to Chuck Dixon with “The Anachronism” from Nightwing #1,000,000 - the requisite tie-in to 1998’s DC One Million crossover. Art here is done by Dixon’s classic Nightwing artist, Scott McDaniel - note that there aren’t really many good shots of the girls in this story (and they spend much of their already-limited screentime disguised as construction workers), so I went and picked all the ones I could find. This also appears to be the only time when the girls have worked under a non-Riddler boss (in this case, Dixon B-lister Slyfox).
Fig. 3: First published in 2001 (and since then updated several times), Batman: The Ultimate Guide to the Dark Knight was an encyclopedia of the mainstream Bat-verse in general, penned by Dixon’s latter-day collaborator Scott Beatty. It shouldn’t really be a surprise that Riddler got a full two-page entry, but it is rather intriguing that Beatty devoted a mini-entry to his henchgirls - a show of friendship with Dixon, perhaps? (Dixon did write the introduction to the book, after all.) The art here is obviously taken from “Maintaining Appearances”, but the text is more interesting - I believe that it’s the first time anyone provided real names for Query (Diedre Vance) and Echo (Nina Damfino).
Fig. 4: In a storyline that I believe was cut short before it could realize its full potential, Chuck Dixon had Query, Echo, Eddie, and Arthur Brown (AKA the Cluemaster) go over to crash at the Brown house - then owned by Arthur’s ex-wife and daughter (Stephanie Brown, AKA the Spoiler). This plotline ran during late 2001’s Robin #93-94, but before the quartet could actually get any evil done, Black Canary unceremoniously tossed them out in the pages of Birds of Prey #40 (since that comic only showed a few fleeting glimpses of the girls, I haven’t posted it here). Still, the plotline held a few points of interest, like the not-so-subtle hints that the girls were indeed sleeping together (probably added by artist Pete Woods).
Fig. 5: “Body of Evidence” from Gotham Knights #44, published in late 2003, was also done by Scott Beatty. Most of the story is taken up by revisions and expansions of “A Death in the Family”, but it did feature this short scene with the girls, which seems to exist solely to give Nightwing and Batman someone to beat up while they discuss Jason (or… something. Beatty’s not really the most attention-grabbing writer when it comes to stories). Art by the regular artist on Gotham Knights, Roger Robinson.
Fig. 6: “Unraveled”, courtesy of Birds of Prey #74 from late 2004. By now, Dixon’s long-gone from DC, and DC’s head honchos promptly reacted by tossing as many of his creations (sans Bane) under the bus as possible. Query and Echo were miraculously spared, just being left in limbo instead of being violently killed off. Gail Simone, Dixon’s heir on Birds of Prey, was pretty much the only writer who actually used the girls in any capacity, with this whimsical little story revolving around Gotham’s henchmen trying to unionize. Art by Jim Fern.
Fig. 7: Detective Comics #822’s “E. Nigma, Consulting Detective” from mid-to-late 2006. The first big change that Paul Dini made to the status quo during his Detective run - reforming Riddler from a supervillain into a shady P.I. - featured an interesting moment for the girls. Though they never made an appearance, the issue established what is so far the most backstory they’ve ever gotten - that they were once dancers at an underground club known as Pandora’s Box. Art by Don Kramer.
Fig. 8: A quick detour into the East, with Yoshinori Natsume’s 2006 manga Batman: Death Mask. Query and Echo are now big (or hot) enough to merit an appearance in one of Batman’s trademark rogues-gallery spreads! Yay!
Fig. 9: Probably the last appearance the girls have gotten in any capacity at the time of this writing (May 2014). Dini’s “The Riddle Unanswered” from Detective Comics #845 (released somewhere in mid-2008) had this one-panel flashback of them participating in one of Eddie’s heists back in the good ol’ days. For reasons I’m reluctant to spoil - all I’ll say is that, according to Eddie, “Query was always lousy at warning shots” - they actually set the whole plot into motion despite never appearing in present day. Also, you can never go wrong with Dustin Nguyen art.
So… that’s pretty much it for Eddie’s two henchgirls, at least for now. The Brave and the Bold didn’t use them. Li’l Gotham didn’t use them. Beware the Batman probably isn’t going to use them. Who knows how long it’ll be before some writer with a long memory pulls them out of the muck of obscurity once more? Who, indeed…
Next time: I spend even more time and effort trying to compile a comprehensive list of all of Mr. Freeze’s suits! Stay tuned.