Tag Archives: Penguin

Batman 400 – everyone vs Batman


Although it was not promoted as such, Batman 400 (Oct. 86) really was the grand finale to the adventures of the Batman of Earth-1, a double sized special issue, written by Doug Moench, with a vast artistic line-up: John Byrne, Steve Lightle, Bruce Patterson, George Perez, Paris Cullins, Larrry Mahlstedt, Arthur Adams, Terry Austin, Thomas Sutton, Ricardo Villagran, Steve Leialoha, Joe Kubert, Ken Steacy, Rick Leonardi, Karl Kesel and Brian Bolland.  As one might guess, each artist only does a few pages of this story.


The tale bears a close resemblance, in its opening, to the later story Knightfall, as both Arkham Asylum an the main prison in Gotham City get blasted open, freeing the inmates.


They find their costumes all conveniently hanging on trees, and this allows for a number of villains to make small appearances, not joining in on the major story. So this sequences marks the final appearances of, for example, Dr. Double X and Mirage, whose outfits can be spotted.


While some villains join with the Joker is following the grand plan of their benefactor to take out Batman, others, such as Croc, want no part of this, and simply take their freedom.


Then there are a number of scenes that see Batman’s various friends and allies captured by the villains – Harvey Bullock, Commissioner Gordon, Vicki Vale all get attacked, and poor Julia Pennyworth has to suffer her second shower scene attack, this time by the Scarecrow.


Ra’s Al Ghul is the mastermind, and openly declares himself such to Batman.  Once again his goal is to recruit the hero, and even offers to help eliminate all the villains that he has just freed.  It’s really a much better Ra’s Al Ghul plot than any since his original big storyline.


While Batman and Robin try to take the various villains down, they are clearly out numbered, and have little choice but to play along wit the larger game.   They take out Black Spider and Cat-Man, but have to allow the Riddler, Scarecrow and Poison Ivy to go free, as long as they are holding the hostages.  Catwoman, no longer Batman’s partner, gets involved, and decides to follow the departing villains.


The Joker leads his crew, which includes the Penguin, Cavalier, Killer Moth, Deadshot and Mad Hatter, in taking over the headquarters of the police, to Commissioner Gordon’s dismay.


Poison Ivy is holding Harvey Bullock, and having a grand time of her own, toying with him.  Catwoman does track her down, but fails to stop her.


Kubert’s pages deserve mention, even though they do not really advance the story much.  But they look sooo good.


Talia joins forces with Batman and Robin to help scupper her father’s plans.  Batman has so much on his plate that he has little time for the Joker or his games.  Even still, the Joker is one of the few villains in the story who really gets much of a chance to show his stuff.  most get overwhelmed by the crowd scenes.


In the end, of course, it comes down to a battle between Batman and Ra’s Al Ghul, who has taken a dip in a Lazarus Pit without dying first, to super-charge himself.  Bolland’s art makes the most of this scene, although it plays out in the standard fashion, with Talia betraying her father, who appears to die at the end.


But it’s really the final sequence that makes this story, as Batman brings all his friends and allies – Robin, Catwoman, Alfred, Julia Pennyworth, Vicki Vale, Commissioner Gordon and Harvey Bullock, to the Batcave.  The reason given is the tenth anniversary of Batman being Batman, but the stalactite that falls and pierces the cake is a stark reminder that Bruce Wayne is not Batman for the fun of it.

A great “last” issue.


Batman 374 – pictures of the Penguin


Moench, Newton and Alcala do a fine job making the Penguin into a darker and more serious villain in Batman 374 (Aug. 84).


A lot of that simply has to do with the art. The story still has him using birds and umbrellas in his crimes, but in more plausible ways, such as hiding stolen jewels in the gullets of carrier pigeons.


Wanting to be taken seriously, the Penguin visits Vicki Vale, and asks her to take some non-comical photographs of him.  Vicki refuses, after discretely taking a shot, insisting that she reports news, rather than feeding the egos of thieves.


Looking at the picture she did take, Vicki finds that she actually did exactly what the Penguin requested, and then has to struggle to decide whether to print it or not.  She also gets another scene of being jealous of Julia.


Bullock, who got shot at in the previous issue of Detective, thinks that the Penguin may have been responsible, but Commissioner Gordon insists that there is no reason to tie the Penguin to the attempted murder.  And, indeed, the reader sees that it was Hamilton Hill who ordered the hit, and who still wants Bullock dead for turning on him.


The Penguin pulls of a jewel theft, although Batman recovers the gem, and also kidnaps a journalist with hot information from the Pentagon.  Batman also frees the reporter, but not until the Penguin gets the secret information he wanted.  The Penguin escapes from Batman, who has to pursue him into the following issue of Detective.


There is also a brewing subplot about Jason being tired and unattentive in school.  This leads to the Child Welfare Bureau discovering that his parents are dead, and though the boy is living with Bruce Wayne, there is no legal adoption or guardianship.

Batman 288 – Batman gets wings from a flightless bird


Reed, Grell and Wiacek conclude the Penguin’s flightless bird storyline in Batman 288 (June 1977).


Grell’s art on the second half of this story is particularly dynamic.  That’s quite a good thing, as the story is not an entertaining as the first half, but the art makes that scarcely matter.


True, there is a lot more action between Batman and the Penguin, and Grell makes all of it sing.


The Penguin leaves Batman and another man to be killed by one of his robotic extinct birds.  Batman manages to damage the bird, and removes its wings and power source, turning them into a harness to he can fly himself and the Penguin’s other victim to safety.


The Penguin’s ultimate goal in this story was to recover stolen bonds.  He succeeds at this, albeit very briefly, before Batman takes him down.


The story has a delightful epilogue, making use of the statue the Penguin had carved of himself.

Whether this story happens before or after the Penguin’s appearances in Detective Comics, which are coming out at the same time, is impossible to determine.

Batman 287 – the Penguin’s flying flightless birds


The Penguin begins a two-part story in Batman 287 (May 1977), putting him in stories in both this book and Detective Comics at the same time.


Mike Grell provides some lovely art, assisted by Bob Wiacek, for David V Reed’s story, which sees the Penguin using giant flying robots of extinct flightless birds in his crimes.


As this is going on, he is also having a sculpture made of himself, and has his men destroy one of Napoleon during the first crime.


The crimes he has his men commit are seemingly meaningless, but take place at very specific times.  After three pointless robberies, Batman deduces that the locations and times can be taken to spell out the dates of the death of Napoleon, Machiavelli and Admiral Nelson.


And though Batman does confront the Penguin as the issue ends, the villain holds him off with a grenade, and becomes a flying flightless bird himself as he escapes.

The story concludes in the next issue.

Batman 257 – the Penguin wants to be emperor


The Penguin makes his first appearance in six years in Batman 257 (July/Aug 74), in a story by O’Neil, Novick and Giordano.


A land of emperor penguins is the location for this story, as the Penguin takes control of the child monarch of the island.  There is also a veiled woman hovering around at the core of the story.


It’s clear that the woman is someone we ought to recognize.  Batman knows her the moment he sees her, although Robin shows no signs of this.  O’Neil is clearly trying to make the Penguin a more serious villain in this story, and while the tale is solid, the Penguin himself is immersed in penguins and umbrellas, and still looks quite comic.


The death trap is the most serious part, and also the scene in which the veil comes off, revealing Talia as the other party to this tale. She had come to the island with the same intention as the Penguin, to exploit the child ruler and loot the treasury, in order to gain funds to free her imprisoned father.  This is Talia’s first appearance since the big Ra’s Al Ghul epic.


Robin gets to be the hero of the death trap, while Batman takes down the Penguin in the final battle.  Batman allows Talia to go free, although he probably regrets that in a couple of months, when she shows up at the start of the Bat-Murderer saga that runs in Detective Comics.

Batman 201 – villains protecting Batman


Fox, Stone and Giella craft a really off-beat story in Batman 201 (May 1968).


The story opens as the Penguin assembles a collection of Batman’s enemies, and tell them of a gangland plot to kill the hero.  Feeling that Batman is theirs to deal with, the Penguin enlists the Joker, Catwoman, Mad Hatter, Cluemaster, Johnny Witts and the Getaway Genius to work as secret guardian angels, helping keep Batman safe.


It’s a strange grouping, of big name and really minor ones.  Sadly, the big name get the least play in this tale.  It also doesn’t really show Batman in a very good light, both because he needs the help of the villains to survive the various death traps, but also because he never figures out what is going on.


Batman’s villains do succeed at their goal, and keep Batman alive until he can bring don the mobsters.


The conclusion has another twist, as we discover that the mobsters hired Mr. Esper as part of their scheme, and he, in turn, prompted the Penguin to gather the villains to prevent it from coming off.

This sets up Mr. Esper’s return in a few issues.

Batman 200 – the Scarecrow’s fear serum


Batman 200 (March 1968) features the Scarecrow, but he is not the only villain to appear in this anniversary issue.


Mike Friedrich, Chic Stone and Joe Giella are the creative team on this Batman and Robin story.


The tale opens as Scarecrow gets terrified by Batman – but in fact this is one of his own men, and the Scarecrow has been testing his new chemical creation, which makes whoever takes it induce fear in those who see them.


It works well, the Scarecrow take his own potion, and Batman and Robin are so convulsed with fear they cannot stop him, and by the time they return to the Batcave are ready to hang up their capes and retire.


Making the most of the fact that this is an anniversary issue, Alfred restores the confidence of the heroes by re-telling Bruce and Dick their origins.


Both are faithfully retold, with nothing substantive about them changed.


Batman and Robin build up their strength by facing other villains before they take on the Scarecrow again.  The Joker, Killer Moth and the Penguin all get small roles.  For some unexplained reason, these villains also are carrying straws on them, clues to the Scarecrow’s next crime.


In the end, when Batman faces the Scarecrow he happens to use the exact same words that were used in the test Scarecrow underwent at the opening of the story.  This triggers the fear reflex in the Scarecrow, and Batman has little trouble taking him down.

A very good anniversary issue.