There’s an immense sense of satisfaction after finishing “Penguin: Pain & Prejudice #2” because it is just so very, very good. Everything I said in my review of issue #1 still stands. The pencils and the coloring are all just as richly detailed and cold and brooding as they were last time. Penguin is just as, if not more, ruthless. And my description of Batman as the last bully Oswald has in this world was spot on. See, issue #2 picks up exactly where the last issue left off. Oswald is on the floor, humiliated and he’s being pushed around by the Dark Knight in front of everyone. When Batman crashed the party he brought reality with him. Issue #1 was a lot of posturing by The Penguin, we saw the extent of his great power over Gotham’s underworld and the way he was greatly respected out of everyone’s crippling fear. Had it not been for that final page, one could’ve walked away from the Penguin’s story with the idea that he was a an untouchable god, but that is not the case. As I said, Batman, reality, crashed down on Oswald at the end of issue #1 and what we get in issue #2 is not more of the same. There is no more posturing. The Penguin has been disarmed and shown to be a weak man with a Napoleon complex. This issue is almost entirely a flashback because poor, weak Oswald Cobblebot must flee to the shadows and lick his wounds while everyone who feared and respected him murmurs about how scared Batman made him.
To get away from it all, Oswald turns to the solace of his infirmed mother and it is there that he reflects on his past. We learn of the love the boy had for his mother and we see more of the hardships he faced as a child from his father and brothers who picked on him relentlessly. We also get to see the moment that that sad little boy turned into a monster as a result of the pain inflicted upon him over years and years. You’ll find yourself empathizing with Penguin as much as you find yourself being disturbed by him and that’s what makes him such an interesting villain. That’s what makes this such an interesting character study and a great comic.
But after finishing the second issue and being left excited for what the next three issues hold I started to wonder: what’s the end-game? Is this whole 5-part mini-series just going to continue being a character study of the Penguin or will there be a greater over arcing story taking place in the present? What is it that you would like to see happen in the final three installments of this series? And if you haven’t read either of these two issues yet, what are you waiting for?