Joker's Asylum: Penguin #1

Story by
Art by
Jason Pearson
Colors by
Dave McCaig
Letters by
Rob Leigh
Cover by
DC Comics

DC capitalized on the latest interpretation of the Dark Knight on the big screen by pushing out a cluster of one-shots loosely tied together by the masthead Of "Joker's Asylum". Not one to jump on bandwagons, I avoided grabbing these loosely related tie-ins to the summer blockbuster. But I couldn't resist the Penguin.

I like a good story of Batman's Rogues, and frequently rail against the retreads that keep finding their way to the silver screen. Batman's collection of foes is so random and so deep that it's a shame to keep going back to the same well -- unless that well is deeper than anyone realizes. It also doesn't hurt when that well has great writing and fabulous art.

Employing a framing sequence from the point of view of the Clown Prince of Crime, Jason Aaron turns in a confidently insightful script here featuring the trials and tribulations of Oswald Cobblepot, offering insight to the character's defining moments. Aaron weaves a tale of rags to riches and picked on to privilege. In doing so, he makes the Penguin an almost sympathetic character -- except for the fact that the Penguin is a little shaded to the dark side of the road.

Pearson takes the script and absolutely delivers a visual treat. He has a masterful take on an iconic foe who has been reinterpreted more often than most superheroes, yet he mixes a fine blend of familiar and frontier. His style is quite reminiscent of Tim Sale is some panels, but wildly far afield in others. McCaig is the perfect colorist to take this assignment to the next level, adding mood without dumping the story into blackness.

The tale is engaging, the characters entertaining, the framing sequence brilliant. Having not seen the movie yet, I think this story is a fine appetizer, whetting my mind's eye for a bit more. Luckily for me, DC has some more issues in this series to consider, and based on the fact that this tale was so enjoyable, I just might try the others.

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