Batman #58 – Tom King, Writer; Mikel Janin, Artist; Jordie Bellaire, Colorist
Ray – 9/10
Corrina: Penguin-Double Agent?
Ray: Following last arc’s disturbing foray into Siberia and Bruce’s taste in childhood fairy tales, Tom King gets back down to business in Batman #58 – namely, the ongoing plot by Bane to destroy Batman on every level. But the focus of this issue is another Batman villain – Penguin, who has been in the background of this run until now. We last saw Penguin getting shot in the head by Red Hood, but he’s out of his coma and no worse for the wear save the eyepatch he now wears. Cobblepot has been playing “Respectable Businessman” for a while, but that ends when he gets notice of someone named Penny having been murdered. It’s not clear who Penny Cobblepot is, but the story seems to code her as his wife (despite a 28-year age gap), and her death is enough to send him spiraling off the wagon. This results in a beating from Batman and a return to Arkham. And that is exactly where he meets up with Bane, the man who has been waiting for the arrival of the latest player in his plan.
Meanwhile, with Dick still recovering from his brain injury and Batman not even willing to share any information of his condition with Gordon, Batman is relying more on his oldest ally – Alfred. Mikel Janin is back on art, and does an amazing job of depicting the weirdness of the Batcave – such as the close-up of the teeth of the giant dinosaur. Of course, as we all know, when King focuses on someone Batman cares about, bad things are generally to follow for them. Sure enough, Penguin soon places a hit on Alfred and sends an assassin to snipe him. But the issue takes a turn as Batman battles his way through Penguin’s minions towards Cobblepot’s office – only for the villain to offer him a deal. I’m assuming Penguin has realized he’s in too deep with Bane and is looking for a way out. This makes a lot of sense, given that Penguin has always been one of Batman’s more pragmatic villains. Either way, I’m hoping to learn more about Penny Cobblepot, because her random introduction is sort of an odd touch for the issue, but this is much closer to the best of King’s run than we’ve seen in a while.
Corrina: If I’m ever shot in the head, I want it to be in Gotham, where the results after recovery are either zero (see Penguin) or simply a loss of memory but no loss of motor and intellectual skills (see Ric Grayson). Of course, it did make Grayson/Nightwing somewhat of a jerk, so there’s that. Penguin, however, seems to have his full intellectual capacity intact.
Also, I’m fairly certain Penny is a penguin.
Oswald never loved anyone but he loves his penguins. I’ll be shocked if that doesn’t turn out to be the case. And on Gordon, as much as I was frustrated about how off-kilter the dialogue between Gordon and Batman is over in Detective Comics, the basics of their relationship are there. Not so here, where we’re back to Batman refusing to even talk to Gordon about anything. I know, I know, this Batman is depressed and near-suicidal and basically committed murder for revenge, so this shouldn’t bother me. But it does, because it’s just another instance where I believe King has veered off the path in his portrayal of Batman.
I get where we’re going. The idea is to break Batman emotionally this time, rather than breaking Batman physically. Bane is a good choice for that plot, as he’s much more than muscle and anger. But what does it say about King’s Batman that Oswald Cobblepot comes across as more sympathetic in this issue than Batman has in the last five?
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.