Never did I think that Penguin would be a villain that would ever be interesting to me or even worth my time and money. Well, Gregg Hurwitz and Szymon Kudranski’s fantastic art have managed to drastically change my opinion in three issues. Seriously, there aren’t too many comic readers that see Penguin as a dangerous man to be feared. However, in Pain and Prejudice we not only get a very dark and evil man, but Hurwitz also shows the other side of the character that may even surprise a few people.
While dealing with the aftermath of his mother’s death, a grieving Oswald Cobblepot still has to maintain his composure and status. So upon seeing two varied reactions to her death from individuals, he sets about specific plans for their lives. There are also crimes to plan, and that annoying Gotham vigilante is also on his trail due to the brutal crimes committed in the previous issues. In the midst of all of this he meets a kindred spirit in a blind woman who was being heckled by some children at the zoo. Cobblepot gets a love interest here, but you just know it’s not going to go well in the end.
Hurwitz takes us deeper into who Penguin actually is by revealing his humanity, because at his core he’s just like everyone else. It’s just that some things are very much twisted, and now that he’s lost the one person who helped keep maybe a portion of his humanity in check, Hurwitz shows the pain. These were some of the best written scenes in the issue, and even the dialog between Penguin and his new love interest was surprisingly good. We even got to see the smooth side of Penguin as he gave one of the most disturbing foot massages in comic history. When it’s time for Penguin to dish out some pain on someone, it’s great to see what Hurwitz comes up with for the the character to do to his intended victim. These actions also show how methodical and thorough Penguin is as a villain, which reinforces what Hurwitz is doing with the character here.
The artwork throughout the issue continues to set the perfect tone for what Hurwitz is writing. Even when Penguin is trying to be a gentleman and kind, Kudranski still keeps you feeling uneasy with his dark style. The sequence where Penguin has his breakdown was one of the strongest, and that is also due to John Kalisz’s colors. There are also these subtle but great panel border changes during a few scenes with certain individuals that really enhance the visual storytelling.
If Penguin was written more like this in the past he would have caught my attention and possibly held it years ago. Hurwitz’s Penguin isn’t a joke nor some guy playing at being a villain. He’s very dangerous and uses the power he’s amassed over the years in a brutal fashion, and lets you know he’s the bad guy when need be. Hurwitz and Kudranski have a winner on their hands here, and you will walk away with a new-found respect for Oswald Cobblepot