Review – The Penguin #1: Return to the Nest

Comic Books DC This Week
The Penguin #1 variant cover, via DC Comics.

Penguin #1 – Tom King, Writer; Rafael De Latorre, Artist; Marcelo Maiolo, Colorist

Ray – 9.5/10

Ray: A solo series for The Penguin? Batman’s most mocked major adversary, best known for trick umbrellas and bird-themed capers? It seems like a stretch, and yet it’s happened before—the character has a history of minis and one-shots that show off how brutal he can be when crossed. Now it’s Tom King’s turn, with a series surprisingly set firmly in continuity—and yet not. Because while it spins out of the events of Chip Zdarsky’s first arc, which saw Penguin fake his death and disappear into a simple life in Metropolis, it also plays with time in the classic King fashion. Why are Batman and Penguin trapped together in a sinking submarine, both mortally wounded—and which femme fatale put them there? In the present day, Cobblepot is running a flower shop and barely keeping his notoriously vengeful nature under wraps—but someone wants him back in power.

Last Rites. Via DC Comics.

That someone is Nuri Espinoza, the infamous villain of Batman: Killing Time, known for her copious use of profanity and excessive force. The series ended with her sustaining a brain injury that only left her able to say “**** Batman,” which has thankfully been mostly jettisoned here as she emerges to blackmail Penguin into going deep undercover, taking back his empire, and turning it back over to the government. To do that, she’s even willing to go after Penguin’s innocent paramour, accomplishing the hard task of making Cobblepot not the most unsympathetic character in the comic. This first issue is a slow, brutal burn that treats Cobblepot as a coiled snake waiting to strike. Some of his targets deserve his wrath, others don’t, and those that meet the worst fates aren’t always in the former group. This has the potential to be the darkest book King has done yet, and yet another winner in his massive library of DC gems.

To find reviews of all the DC issues, visit DC This Week.

GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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