April 24, 2024

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Noteworthy Issues: The Penguin #2 (September, 2023)

The Penguin goes recruiting.

Why does the Penguin have his own series?  I still don’t know, but I seem to be enjoying this one.

Issue:  The Penguin #2, September 2023

Writer:  Tom King

Artist:  Rafael de Latorre

The Plot:  The Penguin wants to hire the Help.  He says he’s retired.  That could be a problem.

Commentary:  I kinda covered what happens in this issue, briefly, in my Misplaced Characters article on the Help.  The Help is an old man, sort of the anti-Alfred, who is basically the ultimate henchman.  He’s a guy who, despite his age, managed to beat Batman in a fight.  In this issue, the Help says he’s retired.  He has a large manor house and wants to live the quiet life being pampered until he eventually dies.  The Penguin, charged with getting his old position back as the head of the Gotham Underworld, wants the Help to be in his new gang.

The Help isn’t interested.  He’s not the sort of character who the Penguin can beat in a fight, straight or otherwise.  How can a short, fat guy like the Penguin win this guy over if he’s uninterested?  That’s the whole angle here.

By that, I mean, that’s the whole angle of the series as near as I can make out.  In a superhero universe, the Penguin is not remotely the sort of character who should look all that threatening in a world of Batmen and Jokers.  He’s not a psychopath, nor does he have any superpowers.  What he does have is basically he’s the most ruthless man in Gotham, and that cunning mind and an absolute willingness to be as nasty as he needs to be in order to get what he needs or wants is what drives this series.  He can’t beat the Help directly.  But he can in other ways, and that is what made this whole issue:

Grade:  A-