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Batman #59 review: Penguin love and padded cell combat

Caught between Batman and his unseen enemy, the Penguin has to think on his feet to avoid being taken down by either side.

Can Batman and the Penguin really work as partners? The last issue of Batman, with its uncharacteristically sentimental (and poetic) look at Oswald Cobblepot, showed us his reason for working with The Dark Knight. In Batman #59, we learn what reason The Dark Knight might have to work with Cobblepot. Plus, the marquee rematch we’ve all been waiting for. In a prison cell. With special guest referee: Jim Gordon.

Points of interest:

  • The second part of “The Tyrant Wing” opens with about as bad-ass a Batman introductory scene as I can remember.
  • Just how bad-ass you find the scene will depend on how you view Batman using the phrase, “Do I pull that trigger and get a Bat-boot shoved through my face?” Same intimidation echelon as Dirty Harry’s “Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?” Or more on the Steven Seagal “I’m gonna take you to the bank, Senator Trent. To the blood bank,” end of the spectrum?
  • The Penguin scenes and the Penguin’s dialogue, especially when he illustrates the love he had for his late wife Penny, are once again magnificent. I still don’t know if Batman trusts the guy, but I sure as hell do.
  • The rematch we’ve all been waiting for. Kind of.
  • Who knew Bane was such a good actor? And watching him take an ass-whupping like that makes one dread anticipating what he has in store for Batman as retaliation.
  • That Commissioner Gordon scene is an appalling one. Batman, oh no baby, what is you doin’?
  • Batman’s emotional turmoil continues to cloud his judgement. It’s not often we see such a vulnerability linger without Bats redirecting such energy into something useful, which makes writer Tom King’s process all the more intriguing.
  • Mikel Janin (art) and Jordie Bellaire (colors) remain one of my top Batman artist teams. The opening scene, with Batman kicking open the steel security gates of Arkham Asylum and facing down a team of highly-armed guards is, as I said above, undeniably bad-ass. There are myriad stand-out panels throughout; a menacing-looking Batman hulked in front of the Penguin’s desk during an interrogation; the fight scene in Arkham Asylum, although not what one might expect, that’s ferocity-filled, brutal and gruesome nonetheless. The opening shot of said fight, with the shadow of Batman’s pointed cowl swelling over padded cell walls and Bane cowering in the corner is an indelible one. And nobody draws a scowling Batman quite as menacing as Janin.

The Verdict:

Batman #59 continues the trend of last issue with another absorbing, well-crafted installment that looks great from start to finish. Tom King progressing the overarching narrative at such a fast clip is a welcome surprise and the narrative twists are well-played. Does Batman’s greatest hope truly lie with the Penguin? And just what the hell does Batman’s “unseen enemy” have planned as retaliation after the events of this issue?

Batman #59 review: Penguin love and padded cell combat
Is it good?
King has truly captured the Penguin's voice; just like last issue, the Penguin scenes are emotionally stirring and full of pathos.
The developments to the overarching narrative are at once intriguing and perplexing.
Visually striking art from start to finish.

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