Addicted with riddles and solving puzzles, Edward Nygma became an especially smart person, a true rarity in Gotham City at the time. However, deciding to use his skills to further his wealth, Edward decided upon criminal activities. Despite the questionable past, Philip Kane hired Nygma to be his strategist and help push Wayne Enterprises to new levels. Upon the return of Bruce Wayne to Gotham, one of Edward's suggestions to help the company get publicity was kill the young Bruce and regain public sympathy and prevent a power struggle. Although Philip refused, instead choosing to debut Bruce to the public, Nygma decided to hire the Red Hood Gang, taking it on himself to get Wayne killed. Before the Red Hoods played out their part, Edward took it upon himself to meet with Wayne. After a small psychological conversation, Bruce departed. Edward later met with Philip and revealed he had hired the Red Hood Gang, but an enraged Philip ended his relations with Nygma, in an irrational fashion.
During the Zero Year, Edward became a supervillain, the smartest in Gotham and was known as the Riddler. Hence, shortly after the fall of the Red Hood Gang, the Riddler launched the riddle of the Sphinx upon Gotham, plummeting the entire city into an event known as the Blackout. The Riddler also partnered himself with Dr. Death in an attempt to build a doomsday device and destroy Gotham. The device succeeded, causing Hurricane Rene to ravage the city, allowing a serum designed by Pamela Isley to cause overgrowth on the city and the robots of Powers Industries to help patrol the streets for him. Eventually, though, the Riddler was caught by the Batman and imprisoned in Arkham Asylum.
In Arkham, the Riddler remained, often particpating in escapes until he decided to simply remain. In the beginning, though, after playing a game of solitaire he was abused by an Arkham guard. At one point the Joker forced the Riddler to escape from his cell and witness him defeat the Batman. Due to the machinations of DEO, Riddler was temporarily freed from his cell. He was made to work with Tweedle Dee, Tweedle Dum, Poison Ivy and Mad Hatter under Bane to trap Batman. He was told, however, not to kill anybody. Shortly afterwards, the Riddler joined the Secret Society. Discovering the Arkham guard who stopped his game of solitaire to have become the head of security at Wayne Enterprises, the Riddler raided his old playhouse and murdered the abuser. He then refused to join Scarecrow in his fight against Bane. During the Gotham Cold War, Riddler discovered the alliance between Lincoln March and the Cluemaster and tried to reveal it to Batman through riddles. The tired Dark Knight, however, simply returned Riddler to captivity.
An extreme strategist, the Riddler possesses tactical knowledge that rivals that of the Batman. While not very physically able, the Riddler has extreme deductive abilities, trying to solve most mysteries while looking at them in the form of riddles. In addition, Riddler is an amazing software and mechanical engineer, able to make hundreds of robots and program them himself. Despite this, Riddler suffers from egomania and it is often his fall.