In his review of the 1992 film Batman Returns, Roger Ebert wrote of the Penguin: “[He’s] a curiously meager and depressing creature; I pitied him, but did not fear him or find him funny.”
Little harsh — though not far from the truth, considering Oswald Cobblepot’s repute in the pecking order of Batman’s rogue gallery has always been for the birds.
Detective Comics writer John Layman looks ready to shake up that notion. In issue #18 we see a tale of two Penguins, foreshadowing of a regime shift, and a certain self-mutilating maniac on the loose. Is it good?
Detective Comics #18 (DC Comics)
From the get-go we learn that while Penguin was off causing a ruckus with the Joker during the “Death of the Family” story arc he placed right-hand man Ignatius Ogilvy in charge of his seedy operations.
Now that Penguin is back, seems Ogilvy isn’t quite ready to cede his newfound dominion:
Layman puts Penguin through the wringer in this issue and one has to wonder if this is criticism of the character’s concept as a whole or the presaging of some grand retaliation. One thing’s clear though: if Penguin keeps getting smacked around like this he’s going to end up with more traumatic brain injuries than the entire roster of boxers’ in Gotham City history. Combined.
He gets bitchslapped by a common thug bodyguard here:
And smashed by Batman later on:
His only defense seems to be saying, “You’ll pay for this,” and rubbing his blood-slavered chin. In his defense, they’re vehement chin rubs. Maybe he’s using Homer Simpson’s version of Muhummad Ali’s famous “rope-a-dope” technique in that at this rate his enemies will soon tire themselves out from punching him in the face repeatedly or maybe even slice their knuckles on his beak-like proboscis.
So what else happens in this issue, without spoiling too much? Not much, really. Batman busts a few street crooks’ heads while looking for newly loosed serial killer Victor Zsasz, who we learn might be working for Ogilvy.
Oh yeah, and there’s a one panel mention of Damian’s death. And:
SPOILER ALERT — ABANDON ALL UNAWARENESS YE WHO ENTER HERE:
Ogilvy’s looking to shake up the scene by sabotaging Cobblepot’s criminal empire and supplant the arctic birdman himself and what does he decide to call himself?
Real good way to separate yourself from your predecessor, guy.
- Eye-pleasing, gritty art
- Great action for those who derive sick pleasure from seeing Penguin beaten
- Not much happens besides the aforementioned Penguin beatings.
Is It Good?
Other than Penguin serving as a pot-bellied punching bag and the reveal of Zsasz, not much transpires. I know we’re probably being set up for some interesting turn of events but given the lack of action throughout this issue is ostensibly just the stepping stone on the path to something (hopefully) more interesting.