Penguin: Pain and Prejudice #5 (of 5) review

If Penguin: Pain & Prejudice was an ongoing series, I would read it. And the way that it ends, this 5 part mini definitely feels like it could have just as easily said “To Be Continued” as “The End”.

I was admittedly disappointed in the last issue and gave a it an incredibly low score when compared it its predecessors which earned 10s. Part 4 was a major tonal shift that turned what was a dark character study into a summer blockbuster in a single issue and it didn’t help that Penguin’s girlfriend really irritated me for being so ignorant and one dimensional. I won’t be grading issue #5 as harshly because this time I’m expecting a wild rollercoaster of a finale and my expectations are nowhere near as high as they were in issues 2-4. So, is an adrenaline rush what’s in store for you with Penguin: Pain & Prejudice? Well, yes and no.

There’s plenty of action and some very bad-ass Batman moments, but it’s all pretty predictable and you never once get the sense that Penguin stands a chance or even has an escape plan. He commences his rampage on Gotham with bird-calling robots and Batman comes in and beats him up. That’s what you come in expecting and that’s exactly what it is. Batman doesn’t even need to race against the clock to track Penguin down– he knows exactly where he lives and that’s exactly where Penguin is “hiding”. In fact, he was at Penguin’s house at the end of the last issue when Penguin said hi and bye and walked into the adjacent room which was the robot-building factory.

This issue has one emotional, very well done scene reminiscent of the initial issues, but the rest of the book has almost no dialogue and is dependent on the artwork to take us through each action scene which for the most part consists of flocks of birds screeching and Batman tearing through the complex without ever breaking a sweat. Kudranski had to work overtime on this one and it really shows except for a few panels where the overwhelming shadows that added to the rich atmosphere of issues #1 and #2 make it hard to distinguish what is actually happening in the fight. The shadows are brilliant in all of the quiet scenes, but when it comes to action, we need a bit more light.

[spoilers]The final confrontation could have used a bit more intensity and had a larger obstacle for Batman to overcome. As terrifying as a flock of angry birds may be, all Batman had to do was go to the short, obese villain’s house, kick him in the nuts, and flick a switch on a remote control to stop the mayhem.[/spoilers]

Since issue #5 is so light on words and heavy on action, it’s an incredibly quick, but enjoyable read. And since it’s so predictable in its execution, it’s not a very memorable climax to an otherwise gripping tale about an abused child striking back at a world that humiliated him at every turn. Averaging out all the scores from my previous reviews gives the series as a whole a score of 7.9. This issue in particular, however, earns a…

SCORE: 7/10

If you were a fan of this series, you’ll be pleased to know that author Gregg Hurwitz will begin writing Batman: The Dark Knight this summer and in the coming months, artist Szymon Kudranski will be drawing the back-up stories accompanying Detective Comics by Tony Daniel.