These five issues were a fairly fast read and they were quite excellent. In this limited series we are treated to quite the introspection of one of Batman’s more prominent rogues; Oswald Cobblepot A.K.A The Penguin. The whole thing almost read like a non-crappy version of Tim Burton’s Batman Returns movie, showing us bits and pieces of Penguin’s birth and childhood intermingled with some of his more ruthless crimes against the people of Gotham, all for the sake of a piece of Oswald’s past that I wasn’t even aware was still around. Yes in this series, Penguin had not only a mother and a father, but three older brothers as well. Oswald was born a bit ugly for his father’s taste, but his mother treated him like her spoiled baby until the day she died, which is much later than you’d think.
Oswald Cobblepot is shown as a ruthless Gotham crimelord in the series and one who takes great pleasure in taking away the things closest to those who slight him. And by slight I mean slight. He completely ruins the lives of a couple people just for saying the wrong thing to him. He is a far cry from the information source to Batman that he has been portrayed as over probably the past decade. Oswald is essentially a bully, taking his aggression out on others just because he has the means in some twisted way of paying back the world for his brothers and others picking on him as a child. He’s one sick puppy this time around, save for the biggest bully of all who Oswald still fears and hates with a passion… Batman. It’s not clear if the Batman in this series is Bruce Wayne or Dick Grayson but it almost doesn’t matter. To almost the degree of the Gotham Central series, Batman is more of a plot device and background character that anything.
Most of the story focuses on Oswald’s past and his present with a certain woman named Cassandra who is, wouldn’t you believe it, totally blind. Who else could legitimately get with the Penguin besides a blind woman? Cassandra thinks the world of Oswald in this book and it’s actually a little tragic how the whole thing ends up.
Oswald’s mother was also a very interesting part of the story, as several of Penguins brutal crimes in the story revolve around getting his dying mother gifts of jewelry. The art and story of the series were both brilliantly executed, though sometimes I had to look hard at what was drawn in a couple panels. Some of the art like the subject matter itself was very dark. I can’t actually believe I’m saying this, but is it possible that a Batman story be too dark? Though this was a great character study of the Penguin through his own eyes, it was ultimately depressing and a little sick at times. Like in Batman Returns, Penguin targets children with his rocket weapons and has multiple people executed for world famous jewelry. The flashback scenes where it was revealed what really happened to the other three Cobblepot brothers was just downright twisted, but made for a damn good bit of story telling.
I guarantee that you’ll never look at the Penguin the same again when you read a Batman comic. I give Penguin: Pain and Prejudice a 4.5 out of 5 grizzlies and recommend it to any bat fans out there. As long as your old enough to handle the violence. Maybe the younglings can stick to Batman animated comics. I would have given it a 5 out of 5 but it was just way too dark, even for a Batman comic.