Tuesday, August 22, 2023

The Penguin #1 Review


Written by: Tom King
Art by: Rafael De Latorre
Colors by: Marcel Maiolo
Letters by: Clayton Cowles
Cover art by: Stefano Gaudiano, Scorpio Steele
Cover price: $3.99
Release date: August 22, 2023

Penguin #1 jumps forward a few years into the future to find Ozzie Cobb living a quiet, retired life in Metropolis. And then Amanda Waller comes callin'...
Is It Good?

Despite my distaste for King's one-note penchant for misery, Penguin #1 is intriguing. It's still a miserable comic depicting miserable people doing miserable things to each other, but there's a seed of an interesting idea threatening to break through the soil and blossom. Could one of Batman's rogues actually retire, or would the ever-present forces in DC's universe refuse to let a good villain go to waste?

King's script follows Ozzie Cobb (Oswald Cobblepot, aka Penguin) roughly five years from now as he lives a quiet retired life in Metropolis. He periodically gets fitted for a new suit, reads the paper in the park, and happily cooks dinner for his lovely fiancee - a veterinary surgeon named Rita Wells.

What Penguin doesn't know is that he's under an army's worth of surveillance, directed by Amanda Waller. One day, Agent Espinoza, aka the potty-mouthed Agent Bleep from Batman: Killing Time, takes Penguin into custody with an ultimatum - restore your criminal empire on behalf of Amanda Waller's authority or suffer the consequences.

There's a prologue/epilogue about Batman and Penguin slowly drowning in the Gotham River after some cataclysmic battle, but it's too early to tell what that's about. Foreshadowing.

On the surface, I'm interested in where this story is headed. King can't resist peppering in characters who swear profusely, making the word balloons a frequent chore, and everyone is miserable to one degree or another, but the plot has merit.

Did this first issue knock my socks off? No. This is Tom King we're talking about, so we've covered enough of his maxi-series runs to expect one, two, or a dozen distasteful character shoes to drop. That said, there's enough meat in this issue to set up an interesting take on Penguin's future, and nothing overtly off-putting reared its ugly head.

How about the art? Super solid. Say what you will about King's writing, he knows how to hide his flaws behind spectacular artists, so choosing Rafael De Latorre was a good call. De Latorre has a smoky, rich, noir vibe that suits this material to a tee.

About The Reviewer: Gabriel Hernandez is the Publisher & EIC of ComicalOpinions.com, a comics review site dedicated to indie, small, and mid-sized publishers.

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Bits and Pieces:

Penguin #1 is a promising start to an interesting idea about what would happen if one of Batman's rogues tried to retire. The character work is (surprisingly for King) on-point, and the art is top-notch. It's unclear where this plot is headed, but there's enough interest after issue #1 to find out.


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