Fans looking to the future of Batman’s hometown in the wake of the upcoming 'Gotham War' storyline might want to make sure that they’ve added the upcoming new series The Penguin to their pull lists — although it’s presenting as a ground-level crime series, writer Tom King is already talking about how the book will impact Gotham (and the Batman line) on a larger scale.
“This morning, I was on the phone with Chip [Zdarsky, Batman writer] and Josh [Williamson, Dawn of DC architect and Batman & Robin writer] talking about crossovers and stuff,” King off-handedly teases during an appearance on Enter the Popverse, responding to a question about how it feels to be re-entering mainstream DC continuity after working on a number of DC Black Label titles across the past few years.
“It’s incredibly nerve-wracking,” he continues. “I mean, I grew up here! I did five years on the main Batman title, so I should know how to do it. It should be like riding a bicycle, but if you’ve ever seen me ride a bicycle, you’d know it’s a disaster. So I have to relearn everything.”
That said, there’s a big difference between his DC 'Rebirth' Batman run and The Penguin, King explained, and it all comes down to tone. King’s Batman started with the Dark Knight literally riding a plane as if it was a horse, but the Penguin is something altogether darker…
“When I was on Batman, I did a lot of ‘superhero Batman,’” the writer says. “And since then, I’ve just wanted to write street-level, kind of ‘Batman: Year One Batman.’ So that’s what this is; it’s [a] very Sopranos, very Goodfellas, kind of crime series. Just like we did with [One Bad Day: The Riddler] that Mitch [Gerads] and I did, and like we’re doing with the Brave and the Bold Joker book we’re doing. Very grounded, very everyday, and very evil.”
Given that The Penguin follows the character as he returns to Gotham — and to organized crime — after his seeming death at the start of Chip Zdarsky’s run as Batman writer, and given that it also comes at the same time that Batman and Catwoman are fighting over control of the city in their own books, it certainly seems as if a very grounded, very evil character could do some damage while the Caped Crusader’s attention is elsewhere, doesn’t it…?
“This is Penguin going back to rebuild his empire,” King said. “Batman can defeat Crisis, he can defeat Darkseid, he can defeat anyone, and yet the one thing he cares most about is crime in Gotham, and he’s never been able to defeat Penguin. Penguin’s always been able to operate there. That suddenly makes him so interesting to me.”
The Penguin #1 is released August 22. Watch the full Enter the Popverse episode right here.
Revisit King and artist Mitch Gerads talking about their collaboration on Batman: One Bad Day - The Riddler from last year.