Darkness is an engulfing place, one that entraps its prey and pushes them deeper within an abyss. BATMAN #58 showcases that process through two particular characters: Batman and The Penguin. The two are currently fighting their own demons while simultaneously fighting one another. Thus, who will prove to be victorious in a battle of this nature? What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? Well, the answer to that remains a mystery because the fight between The Batman and The Penguin has only just begun.

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BATMAN #58 page 4. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

A Rendezvous Long Overdue

BATMAN #58 opens with the reveal that Oswald Cobblepot’s beloved Penny has been brutally murdered. The news clearly shakes The Penguin, news he received not long after his release from Arkham Asylum. Thus, as one of his first acts as a free man, he holds an intimate funeral for Penny.

This particular sequence is actually quite melancholy, one that provides The Penguin with an unexpected level of emotional gravity that proves to be the issue’s best aspect. Now, The Penguin’s resurgence into Gotham City is accompanied by his latest alliance with Bane. Of course, Bane was revealed to be the ultimate conspirator against Batman throughout this run back in BATMAN #50.

So, as a result of Bane’s overarching plans to bring down The Bat for good, The Penguin begins executing plans to kill Alfred Pennyworth. Meanwhile, Batman has come to learn that another woman has been murdered in the same manner as the murders investigated during the “Cold Days” arc, therefore implying Freeze’s responsibility.

Alfred expresses his sympathy to Batman, knowing Batman will take on the guilt for letting Freeze go upon the end of “Cold Days.” Interestingly, when Batman goes to investigate the murder, he finds a feather at the crime scene, leading him to The Penguin. However, as Batman confronts Penguin, the notorious crime lord has his minions prepare to shoot and kill Alfred. In an unexpected turn of events though, The Penguin calls off Alfred’s murder and elects to have a chat with Batman instead.

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BATMAN #58 page 6. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

When the Light Dies

Overall, the strongest aspect of this issue is the way Tom King presents The Penguin. King depicts him as a calculated villain, one seeking power and bloodshed. However, The Penguin is by no means one-dimensional in this issue. He plots every plan and motive. Also, he is an individual who truly tried not to isolate himself within his own darkness. Rather, he cared for someone, he mourned their death. Unfortunately, someone took that person out of his life. Thus, his darkness once again continues to consume him.

In regard to BATMAN #58’s plot, the revisitation of the murders in the “Cold Days” arc was a particularly nice touch. Though there is an overlying ambiguity to those murders, Batman clearly exemplifies guilt for not playing a more assertive role in his investigation in them. He contributed to Mister Freeze’s release since he felt remorse for nearly killing the villain. Though, he also contributed to yet another woman’s murder because of his involvement in Freeze’s release. Thus, Batman truly found himself in a situation where he could not prevail. Consequently, the darkness he tried to distance himself from during this run festers again as he experiences yet another blow.

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BATMAN #58 page 7. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

The Many Hues of BATMAN #58

The artwork of BATMAN #58 truly thrives through its bleak tones. Colorist Jordie Bellaire excels as she continuously juxtaposes warm hues with obscure shades. This is particularly exemplified in the sequence where Batman and Commissioner Gordon meet on a rooftop. She isolates Batman in the darkness. He is physically with Gordon, yet he remains obstinate in his isolated, grim space as he dodges Gordon’s more personal inquiries.

Ultimately, Bellaire instills an abundance of dimension in her work, even in monochromatic sequences such as the page depicting Penguin’s meeting with Bane. Additionally, Mikel Janín’s pencils are exceptional. I particularly enjoy the way he enjoys sequential movements, depicted through The Penguin’s process of throwing dirt onto Penny’s coffin and the process of mourning over her death. This truly pulls us into The Penguin’s mindset, ultimately allowing us to experience his actions and tragic state.

What Lies Beyond

BATMAN #58 is a strong issue. It especially excels in its characterization of The Penguin in addition to the issue’s captivating artwork. However, the work’s conclusion is a letdown as it proves to be quite anticlimactic. Of course, most of us were not expecting Penguin’s sniper to shoot Alfred through the head.

Though, the fact that all of the issue’s intensity led to The Penguin’s request to chat with Batman is a little underwhelming. Obviously though, much remains to be seen. The Penguin has only just returned, and The Bat has yet to be totally broken.

BATMAN #58 by Tom King, Mikel Janin, Jordie Bellaire, & Clayton Cowles
Art
Characterization
Plot
Summary
BATMAN #58's conclusion may feel anti-climactic, but the focus on The Penguin's most recent tragic journey in addition to the intensity of his confrontation with Batman is more than enough to satisfy.
85 %
the cold days continue
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