Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Orinthological Criminal Mastermind

Remember when I constantly complain about goofy gimmicky comic book villains? The subject of this Batman Villains post is the worst (or best?) example of a crazy gimmicky character that really doesn't need to be crazy or gimmicky in order to work.

Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot first appeared in Detective Comics #58 (1941) and is another one of the older Batman villains. Like many of these first villains, the Penguin has evolved as a character. At first, the Penguin is portrayed as a Gotham outsider specializing in art theft.  He dresses in tails and uses a tricked out umbrella as a weapon. Over time, the Penguin changes into more of an organized crime boss character from an old Gotham family. He launders money through his night club, and, for a time, turns informant for Batman. During the watered-down 60's, his bird and umbrella themes would be accentuated to the point of comedy, and overshadow his potential to be a ruthless criminal entrepreneur.

The Penguin could be one of Batman's more interesting and dangerous villains, if portrayed correctly. Ideally, Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot is a descendant from European nobility that settled in Gotham and became one of the founding families, along with the Waynes and the Kanes. He has physical deformities. Those, along with his habit of dressing in black tie, give him the nickname The Penguin. This origin of coming from money plays off of Bruce Wayne's own origin, making the Penguin a sort of Anti-Batman, just like Roman Sionis, and Tommy Elliot.

birds and umbrellas totally go together
I prefer seeing the Penguin as a highly influential, dangerous, and powerful capitalist mobster. There are some stories that portray him as a gun runner and racketeer, posing as a legitimate business owner. Gotham has, after all, a history with organized crime families, and after Batman takes down the Falcone and Maroni crime families, it would be only logical for someone with shady business ethics to fill that void.

He does have some crazy themes though, just like most of his contemporaries. The Penguin, like his name suggests, has a bird theme, and as his name does not suggest, also an umbrella theme.

Being infatuated with birds is okay, I suppose, birds can be pretty creepy, but having him obsess over bird-related crimes doesn't make sense realistically. No capitalist would risk his entire portfolio, and his reputation, stealing bird related artifacts without much resale value to anyone but himself. Bird themed heists just make me think of 60's Adam West Batman, and no one wants that. Also, using birds as weapons makes no sense. No one realistically would strap a bomb to a bird and expect everything to go as planned.

The umbrellas, however, make far more sense. Umbrella weapons are actually a thing, historically, and presently. There's even a company that specializes in umbrellas for self defense. So... having the Penguin carry umbrellas with hidden swords, or ones that fire bullets makes complete sense, let's just agree to discontinue the ones that let him fly.

penguins are flightless waterfowl, fool

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