The GeeksversePenguin: Pain and Prejudice

Penguin: Pain and Prejudice
Published on Monday, November 14, 2011 by

TheDeensList reviews Pain and Prejudice , a five issue mini-series that explores the character of Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot.

In the time span of post Crisis DC we’ve had year one’s and secret origins of almost everyone of the DC Pantheon. Telling the origin stories of characters has been such an ongoing experience that it wasn’t a few years ago we got Scarecrow and Two-Face Year One tales.

Now, at long last, The Penguin receives his own origin tale. It’s a bit strange that this comes post New 52 and may be the first complete origin tale spun out of the reshuffling of the DC universe(s?). But frankly, no one deserves to have his tale told more than Penguin.

For the last fifteen years he’s been relegated to the background of the Batman’s world, secretly planning and plotting and rising as a major player in the world of organized crime. However, more often than not Oswald has only been seen when Batman needed information and so we only get to see Oswald when he’s being trussed up by the Bat in order to find out who has done what. Now he get’s his own spotlight.

The first issue of this mini-series starts strong and doesn’t get weak. In the twenty some odd pages of issue 1, we see Oswald’s birth, his parents’ different reactions to their unique looking son, how powerful he has become in the underground, how ruthless he actually is (something that has been missing), and toward the end we even get to see the heart underneath the hate. The two things that were just highlights of this first issue showcase those last two things mentioned in the previous sentence. In one of the more memorable moments in comics in the last five years, Oswald completely ruins an man’s entire life for no other reason then the man was rude to him before he realized who he was talking.

In one page the Penguin reestablishes himself as a man who does not need to get his hands dirty while destroying someone so utterly. This is brilliantly juxtaposed just a few pages later when we see Oswald, completely alone, caring for the one person in his life that ever showed him compassion and love. It’s hard to feel sympathy for the Penguin and yet, this one moment of tenderness between son to his ailing mother gives you a brief glimpse into the heart of a heartless villain.

The artwork is absolutely stunning, done in blues and pale lights. It showcases the coldness of the main character. The past remembrances of childhood are drawn in a hazy around the edges way that memories tend to be. The only time that the colors and light soften to show warmth are the memories of his mother and his time alone caring for her. It’s extremely subtle but gorgeous. The Penguin should come out of this tale with a new lease on his publication life.

With four issues to go, I wonder how this will all tie up and what this will mean for the little bird man after it’s all said and done. Here’s hoping this leads to more time within the pages of the Bat titles, because he greatly deserves to be brought back to his rightful place as a preeminent Bat-Villain.

Pick up this series, it’s all I can truly recommend. The next installment has hit comic shop shelves. Plenty of time remains to jump into the Penguin five issue series. Check out more thoughts by Pryde contributors on the Forum.

Writer Gregg Hurwitz and artist Szymon Kudranski

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