DCAU #56: Penguin's Big Score

IN THIS ONE... The Penguin secretly steals from rich philanthropists and makes himself Gotham's most celebrated humanitarian.

CREDITS: Written by Kelley Puckett; art by Ty Templeton and Rick Burchett.

REVIEW: Starting with the Penguin, who hasn't been a particularly strong villain on the TV series to date, is a bit of a gamble, but adding the Joker as the mastermind behind Cobblepot's latest scheme, as part of a loosely-connected 3-issue arc should give the comic momentum regardless. And really, as expected, the Penguin isn't particularly formidable, but Puckett at least gives him Penguinny things to do (though nothing bird-related), like force his goons to learn new words, and flatter his own ego by playing socialite. In neither case is he as sophisticated as he lets on, as per his movie and animated persona. Of course, it all ends in tears, with him on his knees decrying the unfairness of it all. It's okay, it's just not entirely memorable.

Puckett and Templeton do have the task of deciding how the animated series should be translated to the page (or BACK to the page, if you like), and the decisions they make here will have a lasting impact. One quirk of the writing is that the story is divided into 3 Acts, as if to reproduce the show going to commercial. This will remain a part of the house style for a while, and artists will find fun ways of integrating the extra titles in the action. (The "scenes from the next issue" are a similar idea, but don't stick around.) Templeton, for his part, chooses to emulate the Bruce Timm aesthetic even though it was not imposed or necessarily encouraged. His cartooning prowess shines through anyway, but this is probably what makes the book such an undeniable part of the DCAU. You can immediately see that it's part of that universe, and not just another Batman comic(TM). Just as this distinctive style is used across all the DCAU shows, so it is with the tie-ins.

Some fun bits: The comic begins with Batman action you come to realize is actually on TV, as if we're pulling out of the animated series itself and into the "real world" it's based on. Penguin's thug is of course identifying with the thug on TV and not the show's hero. The Joker shooting someone off-stage - is this to mean the comic book will be able to dole out death in a way the TV series can't? And if I hadn't made it clear, Templeton's art is a real joy, expressive and dynamic.
IN THE MAINSTREAM COMICS: I've got nothing to say this time, but the tie-in comics will sometimes have connections to the stories that are in continuity (I suppose you could say gossip reporter Valeria Vapid is an alliterative nod to Vicki Vale). At least The Batman Adventures aren't adaptations of the animated series, which was a possibility at one point, one that made more sense when it was going to be a mini-series rather than a monthly, though the decision to extend the schedule indefinitely was apparently made only after Ty Templeton's art for this issue came in.

REREADABILITY: Medium - It's hard for me to get excited about a Penguin story, but the the book does start on solid footing.

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