Superman and the Riddler: A Puzzle a Day Keeps Superman at Bay, Chapter 3: Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

by HarveyKent

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“So where do we go from here?” Superman asked. “I don’t see anything like a clue in this.”

“I’m starting to wonder about these traps,” Riddler mused. “The Puzzler must know they couldn’t harm you. Think he’s stalling for time?”

“Could be, but time for what?” Superman wondered aloud.

“Maybe he’s running you around in circles, while he tries to force information from Miss Lane,” Riddler suggested.

Superman bristled at the idea. “What information?”

Riddler goggled. “Your secret identity, of course!”

“But — but Lois doesn’t know that!

“Whatever you say, Superman. The criminal community mainly believes she does.”

Superman’s mighty hands clenched into fists at the thought of Lois Lane being tortured for information she didn’t have.

“Come on, Riddler!” Superman barked. “Where to now? You’re supposed to be figuring out this clown’s next move! Think!”

“Easy, easy, Supey,” Riddler said in a calming voice. The prince of puzzlers looked around as if searching for a clue. Then his eyes lit on something. “Hey, Superman — look at that!”

The Riddler pointed, and Superman followed his gaze. A horse’s saddle was hanging from a traffic light wire across the street.

“Maybe I wasn’t paying strict attention,” Superman said, “but I’m reasonably sure that wasn’t there when we flew in!”

“Someone could have taken advantage of the confusion to put it there under our noses,” Riddler said. “I know I was watching you playing tag with that laser-frisbee.”

“But — what does it mean?” Superman asked. “A saddle? That’s the clue?”

“It’s not just the saddle,” Riddler offered. “The saddle is next to the traffic light. It’s a rebus puzzle.”

“A rebus?” Superman repeated. “Saddle and traffic light. Saddle light — satellite?”

“That’d be my guess,” Riddler said derisively. “This guy’s clues are getting easier. My original estimation of him may have been correct after all.”

“Spare me the editorial commentary,” Superman said. “Satellite. What’s he trying to tell us? Has he got Lois stashed in an orbital satellite or something?”

“Hmm… well, the moon is a natural satellite,” Riddler mused. “You don’t suppose he could have taken her to the moon, do you?”

“Not likely — hang on,” Superman said. “Five Banners Over Metropolis, the big amusement park just outside the city, has a life-size lunar landscape model for kids to walk through and experience what it’s like on the moon. The park is closed for the season. Do you think…?”

“An amusement park would be a likely place for the Puzzler,” Riddler agreed. “I’ve based crimes in parks myself more than once.”

“We’ll check it out,” Superman said, staring off into the distance. Riddler followed his gaze, trying to see what he was looking at.

“What’s up, Supes? Casing the place with your telescopic vision?”

“Hm? Oh, yes. Yes, I am. But we need to go in for a closer look. Come on!”

Superman and the Riddler flew over the streets of Metropolis, heading for the amusement park on the city’s outskirts. “I’m getting used to this jet-set lifestyle,” Riddler remarked. “And me who’s never liked heights.”

Superman eyed the Riddler from the corner of his eye; then, without warning, tossed him high into the air.

Heeeyyy!” Riddler screamed as he rocketed into the sky. “What’s the big idea?!” Riddler’s face gaped in horror as his body reached the summit of his upward flight, then began to fall back to Earth.

“Omigod, I’m gonna die!” Riddler screamed as he fell. “He’s killed me! I’m gonna die, I’m gonna die, I’m gonna–”

From out of nowhere, a steel-gripped hand caught the Riddler by the belt. The terrified villain yelped in fear and surprise, his face covered with his hands.

“Just a gentle reminder that we’re not doing this for fun,” Superman said evenly. “Got it?”

“G-got it,” Riddler stammered.

Soon, the two colorfully costumed men sailed over the fence of Five Banners Over Metropolis amusement park. Superman put them down right in front of the Moon Mission building, a large dome painted to look like a half-moon.

Without a word, Superman strode to the door and opened it. He walked in and motioned for the Riddler to follow. The place was dark and shadowy. The floor was made to simulate the surface of the moon, covered with craters. The ceiling was jet-black, with a blue and green Earth painted in the sky. Superman and Riddler wound their way among the craters. The floor was of rubber, and they bounced with each step to simulate the lighter gravity of the moon.

“Creepy,” Riddler observed, whispering. “What now?”

“I don’t know,” Superman whispered back. “Maybe we deciphered the clue wrong.”

“Could be,” Riddler admitted, creeping to the edge of a crater. “I wonder how far down these things go.” Riddler stuck a probing hand into the crater, testing its depth. Suddenly, his arm was jerked into the crater. “Superman, help!” the villain cried, resisting the tug. He dug his heels into the edge of the crater, but the force was too strong. The conundrum con tumbled headfirst into the crater, screaming as he fell.

“Riddler!” Superman shouted. He dived into the crater after the Riddler and discovered a metal slide like at a playground. He followed it down through several twists and turns. He saw light at the end and figured it to be opening into a concealed room. Anticipating the end of the journey, Superman put on speed. As the mouth of the tunnel approached, he could see Lois Lane tied to a chair in the room. As he streaked through the opening, however, hidden jets doused him with a viscous green liquid that clung to him like glue. He recognized it instantly — green kryptonite.

Got him!” the Puzzler, standing in a corner, shouted triumphantly. “I have to hand it to you, your plan worked like a charm!”

“Was there ever any doubt?” the Riddler asked as he stood next to the Puzzler, grinning maliciously.

Superman struggled to raise his hand and point his finger at the Riddler. “You — tricked me,” he gasped weakly.

“And you fell for it like an egg from an ostrich,” Riddler acknowledged. “I told you he would, Puzzler, old sock.”

“You two… working together?” Superman asked.

“Certainly,” Puzzler said. “I’m a big fan of the Riddler’s. I’ve been writing to him in prison for years. We swap ideas now and then.”

“When ol’ Puzzo told me he’d gotten his hands on some liquid kryptonite,” Riddler said, “he asked me how he could best get into position to use it on you. An idea came to me in an epiphany.”

“We rigged things so you would free the Riddler from prison and get him to help you solve my puzzle-clues,” Puzzler said. “He would keep you off-balance enough that, by the time you finally found your lady friend, your guard would be down.”

“And soon, the kryptonite will send you to that big Fortress of Solitude in the sky,” Riddler grinned. “Our revenge will be complete!”

“What… revenge?” Superman asked. “What do you… get out of this… Riddler? I never… bothered you.”

“Ah, but you’re Batman’s best friend,” Riddler pointed out. “Won’t it stick in his craw when he finds out I had a hand in killing you?”

“You won’t get away with this, either of you,” Lois growled in rage. “I swear, I’ll see you hunted down!”

“Probably,” Riddler admitted. “But your boyfriend won’t be here to see it.”

“Don’t bet on that,” Superman said, all weakness gone from his voice. Lois gaped in awe as a blue and crimson blur swept through the room. When it subsided, Puzzler and Riddler sat on the floor, tied back to back, Superman standing triumphantly over them.

“Superman!” Lois gasped. “But — the kryptonite! You–”

“I’m just fine, Lois,” Superman said. “And I’m likely to stay that way.”

“But how?” Puzzler demanded. “That was one-hundred-percent liquid kryptonite I doused you with! You should be dead by now!”

“Thank your friend here,” Superman said, indicating Riddler with his head. “He tipped me off.”

“What? No! I didn’t! It’s a frame-up!” Riddler swore.

“Ah, but you did,” Superman insisted. “You see, I first went to Batman for help with your puzzles, Puzzler. Of course he was out of the country. But it turns out that the emergency that drew him away was a hoax. When he learned this, he checked in with the Batcave via radio. Learning that I had called him for help, he notified me on a special sub-frequency that only I can hear. When I found out that he had been tricked, I wondered if I had been, too. I knew the Riddler has a mental block against making a move without sending a clue. I used my super-vision to tune in on Commissioner Gordon’s office in Gotham City. Someone had sent Batman, in care of Gordon’s office, a child’s doll wearing a Riddler costume — a costume of one-hundred percent wool.”

“What?!” the Puzzler demanded, enraged.

“I don’t get it, Superman,” Lois said as Superman tore away the ropes binding her. “A Riddler doll in a wool costume?”

“Wool comes from sheep,” Superman pointed out. “It made me think of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. You were right on one score, Riddler — you’ll make a quiz-master out of me yet. When I tossed you in the air, I zoomed away at super-speed and coated myself with a special plasta-lead alloy of my own design. You can’t see it on me, but it completely shields me from kryptonite. I got back just in time to catch you.”

“You imbecile!” Puzzler shouted over his shoulder. “You execrable moron! Sending clues! Of all the bird-brained, fat-headed foulups! You–”

“Oh, shut up, will you?” Riddler shot back. “You and your dumb clues! Saddle light, indeed! Why, on my worst day–”

Lois clucked her tongue at them. “Boys, boys! Can’t we all just get along?”

The End

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