|BATMAN No. 23.3, November 2013|
It’s arguable that the villainous character of Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot was forever changed following actor Danny DeVito’s portrayal of the deformed portly aristocrat in the 1992 “Warner Brothers” motion picture “Batman Returns”. For Bob Kane’s “gentleman of crime”, a simple eccentric-looking thief with a fondness for both fowl and “specialized high-tech umbrellas”, was irrevocably transformed into a sinisterly “dark, more grotesque” mobster who is every bit the sadistic cold-blooded killer as the Joker is… Only the “persistent nemesis for Batman and Robin throughout the Golden and Silver Ages” of Comics is possibly all the more scary as he’s still “perfectly sane.”
With the story “Bullies” Frank Tieri wonderfully taps into this more nefarious and vicious aspect to the Penguin, as the nightclub-owner not only personally dispatches three low-level card-sharks who were foolish enough to cheat within his licensed premises. But also, with a wicked grin upon his face, entraps an old college buddy by covertly injecting him with the “highly addictive super-steroid” Venom and then videos the man brutalising his secretary in a hotel room; “Yes, Miss Collins. What’s left of the lass, anyway. Although we can’t be one hundred percent certain as we can’t find her head. We suspect you might have eaten it.”
Such a horrific portrayal of ‘Image Games Network’s Fifty-First Comic Book Villain of All Time’ is made all the more grim and chilling by the fact that the monocle-wearing bird’s victim, Carter Winston, used to protect a beleaguered youthful Cobblepot whilst the two resided at the same boarding school. In fact before the Governor announces his plans to close down the Penguin’s beloved Iceberg Casino, the homicidal fiend actually speaks very endearingly of “my old friend” to his ‘lieutenant’ Lark.
Possibly just as unattractive as the Brooklyn-born writer’s interpretation of Oswald as a ruthless calculating murderer is artist Christian Duce’s portrayal of the tuxedo-adorned crime lord. The Uruguayan penciller is clearly a thoroughly competent illustrator and his panel-work depicting Governor Winston’s stomach-churning madness as the politician realises the sickening grisly truth behind what he’s done to Miss Collins is extremely well-paced. But the “Arkham Manor: Endgame” sketcher’s depiction of a podgy-faced, beak-nosed Penguin is as outstanding as it is monstrous, with the fiend’s heavily-lined eyes, bright with intelligent malice, proving to be particularly perturbing.
|Writer: Frank Tieri, Artist: Christian Duce, and Colorist: Andrew Dalhouse|