Batman #23.3: Penguin
By Frank Tieri & Christian Duce
Batman has one of the best galleries of rogues, if not the best – everybody knows this. The Penguin can sometimes be overlooked, but he can be just as dangerous as the vilest of Batman villains. When written well, Oswald Copplepot’s character can be deep and engaging. His Villains Month issue comes close to achieving this, but mostly falls flat on its face.
This issue tries its best to paint Penguin as a scary and murderous psychopath. It has the kind of plot that has become cliché in comics devoted to a villain. It has a very nineties flair of style and badassery, rather than proper characterization. Structurally, the story is written well, it just has nothing of value to say. Penguin can be a creepy and vengeful dude, yeah, we get it. You can’t just have violence for the heck of it and expect it to work – there must be a suitable reason (story-wise) for it to resonate with readers. Ultimately, the story is all sound and fury, signifying nothing.
As far as the art goes, Christian Duce does a decent job. The Penguin has nasty wrinkles (or scars?) around his eyes, giving him a more monster-like appearance. This compliments the plot nicely, as Penguin is depicted as someone devoid of appropriate human emotions and reactions. The action and violence is quite fierce, which is mostly due to the awesome color job by Andrew Dalhouse. Visually, Penguin’s Villains Month issue has the goods.
With so many Villains Month issues (DC released 14 this week), it’s hard to tell which ones are worth your time. Many people will buy Penguin, since it is technically a Batman issue, but unless you’re a completionist, you can skip it. There isn’t anything here that you haven’t read before and this story doesn’t even lead into anything. Move along, there’s nothing to see here.