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Batman: The Animated Series – When the Penguin Broke Our Hearts

by  in CBR Exclusives Comment
Batman: The Animated Series – When the Penguin Broke Our Hearts

The Wrap-Up


Templeton likely didn’t have much to go on when penciling this issue. Even so, the art largely fits the animated world. For example, his interior for the imaginatively named Wayne Financial Institution is similar to designer Ted Blackman’s work.

Continuity Notes

One of the cartoon’s few direct Batman Returns references is Penguin’s massive ducky craft. It appears in “Birds of a Feather” and a few other episodes. (Some take this to mean the animated Penguin shares an origin with the movie Penguin.) “Birds” also marks socialite Veronica Vreeland’s debut.

Hey, I Know that Voice

Noted television actress Marilu Henner voices Veronica, while accomplished songwriter and actor Paul Williams portrays the Penguin.

“Huh?” Moments

“Penguin’s Big Score” has Penguin personally bankrupting the owners of the banks he’s robbed. This assumes that major banks, even in the early ’90s, were chiefly owned by individuals and not corporations. Individuals with no insurance, apparently. Also, “Birds of a Feather” establishes the Penguin as socially clueless, embarrassing Veronica in public repeatedly. This doesn’t fit with his previous portrayals, or even the rest of the episode. The animated Penguin is well-read, and would seem to understand basic table manners.

Approved By Broadcast Standards & Practices

In retrospect, it’s odd the censors had no issue with the Penguin’s cigarettes. Never showing any actual smoke, and keeping the cigarette inside a holder, might’ve lessened the offense.

Over the Kiddies’ Heads

References to John James Audubon paintings and operas like I Pagliacci likely didn’t connect with the bulk of the audience. The idea of everyone, even the butt of the joke, having feelings is a core theme of the opera.

Battle of the Roman Noses

When it comes to sentiment, the animated series usually comes out on top. Even the best comic will have a difficult time competing with high-caliber voice acting and an orchestral score. Also, “Penguin’s Big Score” is more about the novelty of Penguin’s scheme than the villain’s motivations for wanting this public acceptance. “Birds” doesn’t go as deep into the Penguin’s psyche as other villain-centric episodes, but it does treat him as a genuine character this time.

Credit to the comic, also, for presenting a charming, engaging Penguin. Coming off Batman Returns, it’s a miracle readers weren’t subjected to Burton’s foul sewer monster. This Penguin is a bit of a goof, but still fun. It’s a tightly plotted story, hinting at the creative team’s talents. As the issues go on, Puckett will embrace this format. His “shorthand” narrative approach to these one-issue stories holds up incredibly well. The Adventures line could’ve been a throwaway. Tie-in books were dismissed as “not real,” as kid’s stuff. Puckett, Templeton, and Burchett proved all doubters wrong.

That’s all for now. Thanks to Gravity Falls Poland for the recommendation. If you have any picks, just leave a comment or contact me on Twitter.

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