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Is It Good? Detective Comics #20 Review

The Penguin has been a relatively harmless villain ever since his creation. Let’s face it, the trick umbrellas are a silly thing for kids to enjoy and aside from that he’s basically a stereotypical mobster. Recently the New 52 (are we still calling it that?) introduced Ignatius Ogilvy as Penguin’s right hand man. He’s risen, taken Penguins power and named himself Emperor Penguin. So far he’s been a young, better looking version of the old thing, but this issue wants to change all that. Can DC reimagine the character, and as far as the issue goes, is it good?

Detective Comics (2011-) #20 (DC Comics)

You can find a review of Detective Comics #19 here and Detective Comics #18 here.

For those just joining us, Emperor Penguin has sent Penguin to prison, but he’s one step from being released. Batman recently fought off a Man-Bat contagion that swept through a block of Gotham and it turns out Emperor Penguin was behind it. This issue has a lot of answers for readers who’ve been following along, contains a knock out drag out fight, and a rather decent backup story that fleshes out Ogilvy’s character.


It’s hard to gauge whether the main feature in this issue is good due to its reveals or its actual content. I’m leaning towards reveals, as they make Ogilvy’s turn an interesting one, but writer John Layman chose to leave any character development in the backup. Instead the main feature is the big reveal and is, more or less, a pointless fight scene. Jason Fabok does a fantastic job though, and every panel is worth your attention. It’s just sad the issue doesn’t have much more than Batman getting beaten to a pulp. Once Batman gets the upper hand, Ogilvy essentially gives up, and admits he’s satisfied with winning, even if it was all of a five minute victory.

Epic slam!

I won’t ruin why Emperor Penguin is a blue monster on the cover of this issue, but let’s just say it’s a neat combination of powers and leave it at that. It’s a monster mash so to speak, and while it’s never been done (I don’t think), it has a touch of the magic we all imbued our action figures as little kids. It’s a fun turn of events, but it’s more of a flashy gimmick of an idea that doesn’t tie too well into the character’s motivations.

Lil blue action mixed with green!

Layman is assisted by Andy Clarke on art in the backup and it nearly steals the show in all regards. It’s revealed Ogilvy lost his family in much the same way as Bruce Wayne but had a weak father who worked for the mafia. Instead of having a strong role model his father was weak and told him to back down to those who oppose you. Anyone familiar with Wrath knows this isn’t anything new, but at least Ogilvy isn’t a homicidal villain that needs to die. Be that as it may, the backstory adds weight to the character and helps strengthen the main feature.

Sick art Mr. Clarke, sick art.


  • Great character development in the backup
  • Every panel is off the charts in the art department
  • Rather vapid action scene takes up most of the feature

I think we’ll all look back at Emperor Penguin and consider it a successful introduction to a new villain. It’s not often we can say that, and while he’s a little too similar to Wrath for my tastes, he’s got some interesting ties to three different entrenched Batman villains. His obsession with being the leader is also a unique trait writers will be able to fool around with for years.

Is It Good?

Yes. It’s so-so for a majority but there’s some good comic reading for the rest.


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