Follow The Penguin’s latest quest for power as he prepares to undermine one of Gotham City’s most powerful politicians. What does the criminal mastermind stand to gain?

SUMMARY

Pros
Re-establishes the Penguin as a major force in Gotham City.
It’s a dark and cruel tale about the villian who thinks he owns Gotham, especially now that Batman is missing.
Cons

You should have read Penguin: Pain and Prejudice prior to this issue!
This one is NOT for the kiddies!

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

READER RATING!

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BATMAN #23.3
Writer: Frank Tieri
Artist: Christian Duce Fernandez
Cover: Jason Fabok
Publisher: DC Comics

Group Editor: Mike Marts
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously in BATMAN:  Actually, you should start with the Penguin: Pain and Prejudice miniseries/trade paperback written by Gregg Hurwitz and move forward from there. Oswald Cobblepot got a seriously nasty upgrade, which continues to make him a formidable foe.

WHAT MAKES THE PENGUIN A WORTHY OPPONENT?

I never took the Penguin seriously when I was growing up. He waddled instead of walked, he used an umbrella as a weapon, and he said things like, “Wahhh, wahhh, wahhh!” Please.

Over the years, he tried to hypnotize people with his umbrellas, smoked like a smokestack and faded into the lower tier villains Batman fought.

In Batman: The Animated Series, Oswald went from a baddie fighting the Dark Knight when he was injured to the proprieter of the Iceburg Cafe.  He didn’t battle Batman physically any longer, and worked behind the scenes, which I preferred.

Again I have to give Mr. Hurwitz credit for giving the Penguin a new lease on life. He now owns the Iceburg Casino (a new addition in this issue) and still manipulates people from the shadows, but he’s also someone that you OR your family does not want to cross because he’ll make sure every one of you is dead. Now THAT’S cold!

TIERI’S STORY KEEPS MOVING THE PENGUIN FORWARD

One of Frank Tieri’s best moments in the comic is at the beginning, when we see that Oswald actually lets some people win so he can be seen in the press as a positive member of Gotham City. However, when he feels he’s being cheated, that dark aspect of his nature comes out in force. I also enjoyed that we see the Penguin actually physically taking out the Illusionists, but that’s not enough. He wants the families of each of them eliminated as well.

Then we see another interesting aspect to Oswald’s personality. He thinks an old classmate and defender, now the state’s governor, is just trying to please the press when he says he will take the Iceburg Casino down. When the two meet for dinner later, Governor Carter Winston indicates that what he said previously was true, he DOES want to take on the Penguin.

Bad move. The next thing the drugged governor knows is he’s soaked in the blood of his associate, Miss Collins, in a room that also has her decapitated body. The Penguin shows Winston a video that seemingly shows him killing her. As a result, the governor knows he can’t escape this trap and commits suicide during a news conference.

Can you say “nasty and cruel?” I knew you could!

THE DARKER ART FITS THE TALE WELL

I particularly enjoyed the cover, which has the Penguin pulling a gun on us, the readers. We also see Batman in chains behind him. Good job, Mr. Fabok!

Fernandez’ dark and creepy art keeps the Penguin where he belongs, in the shadows. I especially was impressed with the sequence where Miss Collins is found dead with the governor! Yikes!

Then, too, there’s an amazing event when Oswald opens a school yearbook showing that all the bullies who previously bothered him are now dead, and some by less-than-mysterious means now that we understand how the Penguin settles his “debts.”

BOTTOM LINE:THE PENGUIN IS AN EFFECTIVE MIX OF POMPOSITY AND CRUELTY

Like Batman and Robin #23.2, this issue is what I was hoping for from Forever Evil. It shows the Penguin re-asserting himself in Gotham while showing us things that may impact future storylines.

It’s another one of the best I’ve read so far in September, and it makes me anxious for the next appearance of Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot! Rating: Five out of five stars.

Rating: ★★★★★

The Author

Wayne Hall

Wayne Hall

Wayne Hall creates the Wayne's Comics Podcast. He’s interviewed Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, John Layman, Kyle Higgins, Phil Hester, Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray, David Petersen, Christos Gage, Mike Grell, and Matt Kindt. Each episode also includes reviews, news and previews. On this site each week, he writes his "Comics Portal" column (general comics comments and previews) and reviews comics.

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2 Comments

  1. September 20, 2013 at 9:56 am — Reply

    I thoroughly enjoyed The Penguin in Batman the Animated Series. He was a gentleman villain who just wanted the finer things in life, any way possible.

    I read the Emperor Penguin arc in Detective comics. It was my first exposure to The Penguin since The Batman cartoon in the mid-2000s. I enjoyed that he skirted the line between businessman and criminal, but the characterization overall didn’t grab me. It just fell flat.

    I didn’t include this issue in my pull list this week or any of the other “Villains Month” Batman titles. They’ve been decent so far, but I’m villained out.

  2. September 21, 2013 at 3:23 pm — Reply

    I have mixed views on the Penguin. I like it when he is portrayed as the smart crimeboss, pompous at times but brilliant and hands off.
    I dislike it though when he is Tim Burtoned up with the flippers instead of hands. He wasn’t a mutant of any sort for 40 years then all of a sudden he was malformed. (Same goes for Killer Croc who has a skin disease and is strong rather than a mutant Croc/human hybrid.)

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