Out with DC² and in with the Penguin in part 1 of ‘Emperor Penguin’. The results? Mixed.
Cover by Mike Allred
Written by Jeff Parker
Art by Tye Templeton
Coloured by Wes Hartman
Beware of spoilers!
After a strong introduction and a brilliant first story arc the reincarnation of Adam West’s Batman takes a knock in week four with a dramatic shift in art design and a lack of the DC² functionality which brought so much fun in previous chapters.
This week kicks off the second story arc of the revived series and brings both Penguin and Mr. Freeze to the forefront. The brilliant Jeff Parker continues to steer the story in new, exciting directions and I love the idea of these two villains teaming up. I don’t want to spoil the story too much here but the reason that these two have come together is original and in no way achievable on the kind of budget that the TV series would have available to it.
Each of the characters maintain their individual voices from both the previous arc and the source material and judging by the art on show here I think that will be a vital aspect in the longevity of this series. This issue is peppered with aptly timed ‘Waaak! Waak! Wak!’ moments which will bring back memories of Penguin capers past and Mr. Freeze maintains the accent to his speech even in print. All this just continues to show the attention to detail that Parker is bringing to the table.
The letdown in this issue is the artwork. It’s not that the art here is bad; I don’t want to criticise Tye Templeton because his work is strong and his representations of both Burgess Meredith and Otto Preminger are undeniably close to photo-realistic although as with the work of Jonathan Case in previous issues it is West and Ward whose faces are a little lost in translation.
What’s missing is the pop art feel of the Riddler arc and although it is referenced on the cover the Lichtenstein-esque artwork inside has been replaced by a straight comic style which, for me, changes the feel of this series completely. Case’s work along with the added animation made this continuation of the series for me whereas this issue feels like a comic adaption. It sounds silly but the missing animation and the change in style do make this more of a generic tie-in.
I don’t want to jump to the conclusion that the DC² aspect of the series has been a significant part of its appeal but the lack of eye-popping Bat-captions and static panels to deduct from my enjoyment of the story.
Chapter 1 of ‘Emperor Penguin’ is still an enjoyable story and leaves the reader on a clever cliffhanger for next week. I can only hope that the artwork improves or may interest may begin to wane.