The Joker's Asylum, Part II: The Penguin

With Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight" scheduled to be released in the US on July 18 and Bruce Wayne facing a fate worse than death in Grant Morrison's "Batman R.I.P.," this summer is shaping up to be the Caped Crusader's biggest since the release of Tim Burton's "Batman" in 1989.

Even Batman's rogues are getting in on the action as July will see the release of DC Comics' five-issue weekly series of one-shots entitled "The Joker's Asylum," which celebrates Gotham's greatest villains. As the title suggests, playing host in each of the one-shots is Batman's archenemy, the Joker.

In this, our second interview with the five writers of "The Joker's Asylum," CBR News spoke with "Scalped" co-creator Jason Aaron about his leading rogue, the waddling scoundrel himself, Oswald Cobblepot " better known as the Penguin. Illustrated by Jason Pearson, Aaron's story finds the wealthy and powerful Penguin within reach of the one thing that has always eluded him: true love. But, says Aaron, when the Penguin opens up his heart to someone, just what sort of dark secrets are liable to tunble out?

CBR: What makes Penguin a serious challenge to Batman?

Jason Aaron: I don't know that Penguin has really seemed like a serious challenge to Batman in quite a while, certainly not physically. When he does pose a challenge, it's because of his intellect, his ability to build umbrellas that shoot fire or to train birds to rob banks. Unlike most of the other rogues, Penguin isn't typically someone who threatens with physical violence. He's a more genteel villain. Or at least, that's what we thought.

What makes Penguin an interesting character to explore as a writer?

Everybody has a dark side and Penguin is no exception. On the outside, he's a chubby, tuxedo-clad shyster. But inside, he's still a lonely kid who's angry at the world for laughing at him. That's the part I wanted to explore.

What makes The Joker a great central figure to this series of one-shots?

He's the narrator, and what better guy to give you a guided tour of the nuthouse than the most psychopathic psychopath of them all?

After nearly 70 years, what is it that makes Batman such a popular hero and ever-lasting icon?

It doesn't hurt that he has the best rogues' gallery in comics. Among what other group of villains could you find so many characters that can so easily headline their own books? They're a really fascinating group of characters, and I'm excited just to be on board.

Who is your favorite Batman rogue and why?

Over the years, I think Joker and Two-Face have headlined the best stories. Penguin has rarely had his day, though Danny DeVito's performance in "Batman Returns" was pretty great. Hugo Strange has always been interesting, as well.

If Bruce Wayne meets "a fate worse than death" in "R.I.P.," who deserves to be the next Batman and why?

How about Kirk Langstrom, so we could have a Man-Bat-Batman?

Are you planning to see Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight" in July?

Most definitely, it looks like it's going to be great.

"The Joker's Asylum: Penguin" with art and cover by Jason Pearson is scheduled for release on July 9. Check with CBR News tomorrow for J.T. Krul's thoughts on... Poison Ivy.

Now discuss this story in CBR's Batman forum.

Tags: dc comics, batman, jason aaron, the penguin, jason pearson

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