Overview: In Penguin #1, a clipped member of the Batman’s Rogues Gallery finds himself being pulled back into the game.
Synopsis: We open with Batman and Penguin dying in the Bat-boat as Batman tries to will his body to do anything to save the both of them. “All we can do is fall,” Batman thinks to himself while struggling to muster the power to survive.
Flashback to one year earlier, as Oswald Cobblepot is buying a new suit in Metropolis. He then makes his way through his daily routine as an unseen narrator speaks about how they watch Oswald’s movements. Oswald then encounters an agent, who is connected to the narrator, and this agent tries to provoke Oswald into a fight. Cobblepot, however, stays calm.
The narrator is revealed to be Agent Nuri Espinoza (from Batman: Killing Time) who works for the government and is telling Penguin that he works for them now too. Amanda Waller tells Espinoza to be careful with Oswald because she has seen him rip out men’s throats with his teeth (I love a good Batman Returns reference). Espinoza asks Penguin to return to Gotham and take back his criminal empire, but this time, his empire will be controlled by her.
Leaving, Penguin returns to his tailor and kills him with an umbrella to prove that he still has it. The issue ends cutting back to Batman and Penguin dying as Batman thinks to himself “He’s just the Penguin. How the hell did he do this?”
Analysis: The Tom King style, for me anyway, can hit or miss. Sometimes he can be too wordy, but in spite of the heavy exposition in Penguin #1, I really liked this issue. Penguin is one of the all-time greatest Batman villains, and it seems like that characterization has been forgotten in recent years, leaving this character to hang by the wayside without much play in the main Batman book. Even this issue plays up the fact that Penguin is low on the totem pole of Batman’s rogues gallery. Penguin, at one point, says to Agent Espinoza that he’s the “fat one. With an umbrella”. The motif continues throughout the issue, including in the final few panels where Batman’s ending line of Oswald being “just the Penguin” plays on that notion.
There is not much action in this issue, so I wonder how Artist Rafael De Latorre will structure the thriller elements that are soon to come, but the art, overall, was moody and solid. There is nothing to complain about on that end.
Editor’s Note: DC Comics provided TBU with an advanced copy of this comic for review purposes. You can find this comic and help support TBU in the process by purchasing this issue digitally on Comixology through Amazon or a physical copy of the title through Things From Another World.