Dave Galanter
December 1st 1969 - December 12th 2020
He was loved.

Batman >> View Post
Post By
Omar Karindu

Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 4,242
In Reply To
Grey Gargoyle

Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 18,453
Subj: Re: If you were the current writer of a Batman book, what would you do with the Penguin ?
Posted: Mon Oct 11, 2010 at 07:29:40 pm EDT (Viewed 180 times)
Reply Subj: If you were the current writer of a Batman book, what would you do with the Penguin ?
Posted: Sun Oct 10, 2010 at 01:15:32 pm EDT (Viewed 201 times)

    What are your ideas on the topic ?


    Do you like him or do you hate him ?

I liek the concept of the character, but I'm not sure anyone since perhaps Ed Brubaker has made him work...and before Brubaker, no one since Doug Moench.

    What do you think of his current portrayal ?

I don't really know enough about it to say. It's OK, but most writers seem to use it to make the Penguin too much of a behind-the-scenes criminal when he should be doing more stuff himself and getting away with it because he's just that darned clever.

    Should he be a freak of nature (the Batman Returns version) ?


    If the answer is yes, do you think that he should have hands with five fingers or not ?

See above.

    Do you like Tim Sale & Jeph Loeb's version, for example ?
    (Combination of all the previous portrayals + Tim Burton's "flippers with 3 fingers" + little sharp teeth were added)


    Or Eduardo Risso's version ?
    (Combination of all the previous portrayals with 5 normal fingers + little sharp teeth were still added)

Nah; the sharp teeth take away from what I think the core concept of the character is.

    Or variants : for example, Tony Daniel or Philip Tan ?

Not so much.

    On the contrary, should he look like Bob Kane's version ?

Jerry Robinson was the guy who actually drew that version. I most like the Dick Sprang take on him, followed closely by Robinson's and Scott McDaniel's surprisingly human depiction.

    Should he be a mob boss ? and still the owner of the Iceberg Lounge ?


    Do you like him or do you hate him ?

I like the basic concept of the character, and a number of his stories -- mainly the early appearances from the 40s and the Brubaker and Moench stuff -- but I don't like it when he's used as either a harmless goof of a villain or as a generic mob boss.

    Would you ignore him (he would never appear in your book) ?

Not at all: in some planned Batman fanfic I tried to start, he was the main villain of the first four-part arc.

    Would you even kill him (the "last" Penguin's crime) ?


    On the contrary, would you keep him and change things about him ? what would they be ?

I wouldn't see it as changing things about him, but others might. Batman and his foes have gone through so many very different incarnations over the decades that any version will seem different to some fans at this point.

    What do you think would make him an interesting villain ?

The original concept of the character is that he's a sort of parody of what Bruce Wayne pretends to be: the Penguin, in his earliest appearances, *seems* even more foppish and harmless than Bruce Wayne, but he's actually a hypercompetent and murderously cold-blooded criminal mastermind.

He's also a true aesthete, not in the way the Joker some=times seems to be, but in the way of someone who can quote half of the Great Books of world literature off the top of his head. Of course, he's also the sort who thinks you read those texts solely so that you can quote them. He's someone who's mistaken shallow erudition for culture, who talks about beauty and art but only because it fuels his vanity.

In his first appearance, he calls a perfect crime "a work of art," and I thinkt hat's long sicne been lost in most portrayals of the character. He's not nuts; rather he's something of a deconstruction of the gentlemen thieves of the pulps, guys like Raffles and the Saint and Zenith the Albino. He's a squat ugly man who kills if he needs to, but he imagines himself a sort of dashing romantic gentleman of crime and also comports himself that way.

His affectations and actions should reflect that: the one thing I don't like about Brubaker's portrayal is that his Penguin lapses into gangster lingo behind clsoed doors. I see the Penguin as a guy who never does that, because that's not how he imagines himself or how he wants to be perceived.

    Could he be portrayed as a very smart villain (a "Napoleon" of crime, for example) ?

Very much so, yes. But more than that, he's someone who imagines hismelf in almost exactly thsoe terms. Moriarty was a well-read genius and a professor, and the Penguin probably counts old Jim as one of his literary idols...if he doesn't think he's already surpassed Doyle's limited vision, of course.

    Should he deserve a better portrayal ?

Yesw. He's a classic villain, and these days I think there's so much you can do with him in an age where so many of the very rich come across as self-deluded and vulgar. (I'm thinking less of corporate types than I am of socialites and celebutantes.) The Penguin makes a nice contrast, and a reminder that the trappings of refinement are often just as vulgar in their own way as the trashy stuff we see now seems.

And his motifs might work well with some recent stories as well.. Imagine a man who trains birds taking advantage of the avian flu scare, or pointing out that guano is the basis of ammonium nitrate explosives in order to sell arms to terrorists, and so forth. Imagine the dangers of a man who can conceal any weapon in an umbrella in a time when we're afraid of what people bring onto airplanes and into public places.

    Do you think that he is outdated ?

A bit, but I also think that can be made into a strength of the character. He's outdated because he chooses to be -- Max Allan Collins made that point in a Penguin story he wrote in an old Batman Annual, in fact.

    Et cetera.

    Please, give me your thoughts about this character who has been one of Batman's most famous archcriminals since the Golden Age.

    PS :
    By the way, it has never been explained why the Penguin had flippers with 3 fingers in Dark Victory (like in Batman Returns) and 5 normal fingers in most other stories.
    Should it be explained ?
    For example, could he have had some help in the past from the Crime Doctor or from Thomas Elliot ?

- Omar Karindu
"For your information, I don't have an ego. My Facebook photo is a landscape."
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