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The Penguin #1

Comicscore Index
Generally favorable ratings

Based on 17 critic ratings.


After retiring to Metropolis following his “death,” Oswald Cobblepot finds himself forced back into the unpredictable and violent Gotham City underworld as a pawn of the United States intelligence community! Gotham’s criminal element has been evolving since he was last in the city, with his bastard twin children ruling the Iceberg Lounge. And what of the man he framed for his death-Batman? Is the Penguin walking into a death sentence?

From award-winning and bestselling writer Tom King (Batman, The Human Target) and artist Rafael de Latorre (Daredevil) comes a bloody, hard-boiled tale of redemption and revenge!

Publication Date
Kindle Edition
Print Lenght
30 pages
Amazon ASIN

17 Critic Ratings & Reviews from:
  • 100

    DC Comics News

    Ready and waiting for the next. The Penguin #1 is definitely a buckle up and bring down the pull bar for safety. Going to be a wicked ride.
  • 100

    Dark Knight News

    The Penguin #1 is my idea of a perfect comic. It’s full of suspense, never knowing when, or if Cobblepot will break. None of the internal monologues are his, instead, they are those of the people interacting with him. I find that simply fascinating, having an outside perspective of the central character reads something like a Martin Scorsese film, a real gritty gangster experience. Wherever this goes, Tom King and the rest of the creative team have me strapped in for the ride!
  • 95

    Geek Dad

    This first issue is a slow, brutal burn that treats Cobblepot as a coiled snake waiting to strike. Some of his targets deserve his wrath, others don’t, and those that meet the worst fates aren’t always in the former group. This has the potential to be the darkest book King has done yet, and yet another winner in his massive library of DC gems.
  • 95

    Comic Watch

    King once again takes a series decisively into noir and hard boiled territory with another complex, though somewhat less morally gray, strong first issue. The entire creative team realizes this vision with outstanding work. Penguin #1 is a masterclass in resetting a character and fully realizing a new world for them.
  • 95

    But Why Tho?

    This first issue is a slow, brutal burn that treats Cobblepot as a coiled snake waiting to strike. Some of his targets deserve his wrath, others don’t, and those that meet the worst fates aren’t always in the former group. This has the potential to be the darkest book King has done yet, and yet another winner in his massive library of DC gems.
  • 95

    Lyles Movie Files

    Penguin’s debut issue doesn’t need to sleep with the fishes and marks a very promising start for this spotlight on Gotham’s elite criminal mover and shaker. If King can keep the story rolling this could be a recommended DC title through the rest of the year.
  • 95

    Nerd Initiative

    Oswald Cobblepot is dead. Long live Gotham’s Crime King. King shatters dreams of a peaceful life with superb writing. The panels by De Latorre and Maiolo’s bold visuals set the tone for a forging a new trail in what is sure to be a suspenseful tale for the ages. Make sure this issue is in your possession on New Comic Book Day!
  • 92

    The Super Powered Fancast

    The Story: King crafts another compelling and entertaining story that starts with a mystery and builds on both it and the tension within it perfectly. I love the fantastic progression of events in this story as well as how King tells it from the points of view of different characters. I also really love the use of Batman in this story and how high the stakes are for the character and his connection to Penguin. I am excited to see how this story goes. The Art: De Latorre delivers some amazing art throughout the issue. I love how the imagery captures the rising tension and suspense of the story.
  • 90


    The Penguin #1 is an excellent start to a new series. The setup is strong, the writing choices are fun and engaging, the characters are interesting, the art is terrific, and the colors elevate the scenes. The idea that a book about a villain who can be pretty campy could turn out this good shouldn’t be so much of a shock as a welcome surprise. The Penguin tells readers how much they don’t know about the protagonist but invites them on the ride to find out.
  • 90

    Derby Comics

    THE PENGUIN #1 has King’s fingerprints all over it and I’m fully bought in. Fans of his previous work, including the recent HUMAN TARGET series, will likely find this instantly relatable even if they aren’t huge Batman fans and Batman fans will enjoy this unique view on a classic character. The flash-forward tease King dangles at the beginning and end of the story also offers a hook to draw readers in for the long haul.
  • 83

    Graphic Policy

    The Penguin #1 is a solid start. It suffers from “Tom King formula,” a pattern that has developed in King’s recent releases. They all follow a similar pattern in their storytelling, for good and bad. It can distract from those who have read a lot of his works. Still, it’s a solid opening that makes you want to come back for the “how” of it all. Hopefully it can break out from the mold as the story progresses.
  • 83

    Zona Negativa

  • 80


    This comic handily surpassed my expectations and despite not always being perfect I think it’s well worth giving a chance and will likely only get better as it develops. The art is equally strong and as I guessed last week, you absolutely don’t need to read The Penguin #0 to understand this comic. Hopefully, you skipped that one and saved your money last month, because this month, I recommend spending it on The Penguin #1.
  • 80

    The Penguin #1 promises DC Comics and Batman fans alike a story grounded by elements of crime and subterfuge not requiring any superhero hijinks to function, and in doing so discovers what makes Oswald Cobblepot such a compelling anti-hero. Rather than leaning into idiosyncratic eccentricities, it stresses the control and competence required to manage a vast criminal conspiracy; Penguin has more in common with figures like Gus Fring or Stringer Bell than The Joker. In doing so it not only redefines the often overlooked rogue as a terrifying opponent for Batman, but an individual whose story is worth following on its own, especially because it offers no heroes.
  • 80

    Weird Science DC Comics

    Penguin #1 is a promising start to an interesting idea about what would happen if one of Batman's rogues tried to retire. The character work is (surprisingly for King) on-point, and the art is top-notch. It's unclear where this plot is headed, but there's enough interest after issue #1 to find out.
  • 74

    The Comicbook Dispatch

    King’s mission with The Penguin #1 is simple: the underestimation of Oswald Cobblepot. And truthfully, I can get behind that concept. However, I need more setups other than words and phrases from word balloons in order to feel that this mission statement is actually true. King tries to quickly get fans to see the Penguin as a monster, however, without actual supporting images, narrative beats, and data I just can’t buy it. All we get is hearsay. Moreover, the unbelievability of who is with the Penguin, as well as his actions, made The Penguin #1 hard to sink my teeth into. Nevertheless, even with this unbelievability, I still felt drawn to the issue. Why? Well, it’s because of the one thing King always does well. And that’s the overall concept. He always does a fabulous job creating a premise for an anecdote that gets readers intrigued with the story. Additionally, King has a knack for aligning himself with fantastic artists that make up for story deficiencies. And King does that again in spades. Sure, he has some problems to overcome but for the time being, I’m still in. I’m curious to see how the Penguin does as the front-runner of a series. And therefore, for the time being, I’ll give it a shot.
  • 70

    The Batman Universe

    It seems like Tom King is bringing the Penguin back to prominence as a threat to Gotham City, which he should always be.

More From The Penguin (2023)

About the Author: Tom King

Tom King (born July 15, 1978) is an American author, comic book writer, and ex-CIA officer. He is best known for writing the novel A Once Crowded Sky, The Vision for Marvel Comics, The Sheriff of Babylon for the DC Comics imprint Vertigo, and Batman and Mister Miracle for DC Comics.

Early life

King primarily grew up in Southern California. His mother worked for the film industry which inspired his love of storytelling. He interned at both DC and Marvel Comics during the late 1990s. He studied both philosophy and history at Columbia University, graduating in 2000. He identifies as “half-Jewish, half-midwestern”.


King interned both at DC Comics and Marvel Comics, where he was an assistant to X-Men writer Chris Claremont, before joining the CIA counterterrorism unit after 9/11. King spent seven years as a counterterrorism operations officer for the CIA before quitting to write his debut novel, A Once Crowded Sky, after the birth of his first child.

A Once Crowded Sky, King’s debut superhero novel with comics pages illustrated by Tom Fowler, was published on July 10, 2012 by Touchstone, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, to positive reception.

In 2014, King was chosen to co-write Grayson for DC Comics, along with Tim Seeley and Mikel Janin on art. After penning Nightwing #30, King, Seeley, and Janin launched Grayson in May 2014, featuring Dick Grayson leaving behind his Nightwing persona at age 22 to become Agent 37, a Spyral spy. King and Seeley plotted the series together and traded issues to script separately, with King providing additional authenticity through his background with the CIA.

A relaunch of classic DC Comics series The Omega Men was published in June 2015 by King and debut artist Barnaby Bagenda, as part of the publisher’s relaunch DC You. The series follows a group of rebels fighting an oppressive galactic empire, and feature White Lantern Kyle Rayner. The Omega Men, created in 1981, are DC’s cosmic equivalent to Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, though significantly more obscure. King’s and Bagenda’s use of the nine-panel grid, popularized by Alan Moore‘s and Dave Gibbons‘ Watchmen, has been praised by reviewers.

In San Diego Comic-Con 2015, Vertigo revealed a new creator-owned project written by King with art by Mitch Gerads titled The Sheriff of Baghdad. The project, a crime series in the vein of Vertigo titles like Preacher and Scalped, was set to launch in late 2015, and was inspired by King’s time in Iraq as part of the CIA. Initially an eight-issue miniseries, it was later re-titled The Sheriff of Babylon and expanded into an ongoing series. The first issue launched in December 2015 to critical acclaim, with reviewers praising its “deeply personal” storytelling and the “intriguing” and “captivating” personalities of its characters. That same year, DC announced “Robin War”, a crossover storyline set for December that would run for five weeks through titles Grayson, Detective Comics, We Are Robin, and Robin: Son of Batman; King was set to orchestrate the crossover’s story-line and pen two one-shots to open and close the series.

As part of Marvel Comics’ All-New, All-Different relaunch, King was announced as the writer of The Vision, a new ongoing following the titular character and his newly created family, with artist Gabriel Hernández Walta, colorist Jordie Bellaire, and covers by Mike del Mundo, launching in November 2015. The Vision has been well received by the public, with reviewers calling the series one of Marvel’s “biggest surprises” and praising the narration, art, and colors.

In September 2015, DC cancelled King’s The Omega Men, along with four other titles, with the series ending with issue seven. After negative fan response to the cancellation, Jim Lee, DC’s co-publisher, announced that they would be bringing back The Omega Men through at least issue 12. Lee described the decision to cancel the series as “a bit hasty,” crediting the book’s critical acclaim and fan social media reactions as the reason the title would go on for the planned 12-issue run.

King penned a Green Lantern one-shot that ties into the “Darkseid War” Justice League storyline, titled “Will You Be My God?”, which James Whitbrook of io9 praised as “one of the best” Green Lantern stories.

King and co-writer Tim Seeley announced they would leave Grayson after issue #18, with King clarifying on Twitter that they were working on something “big and cool” and needed time. King and Seeley officially left the series in February with issue #17, with Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly taking over for its last three issues with issue #18 in March.

DC Comics announced in February 2016 that King had signed an exclusivity deal with the publisher, which would see him writing exclusively for DC and Vertigo. King revealed via his Twitter account that he would stay on The Vision as writer through issue 12, finishing the story arc he had planned from the beginning.

In March 2016, it was announced that King would be writing the main bi-weekly Batman series beginning with a new #1, replacing long-time writer Scott Snyder, as part of DC’s Rebirth relaunch that June. King has stated that his run would be 100 issues total, with the entirety being released twice-monthly, though this was later curtailed to 85 issues and 3 annuals, with a 12 issue followup maxiseries Batman/Catwoman to finish the story.

In August 2017, King and regular collaborator Mitch Gerads launched the first issue of their Mister Miracle series, with a planned total run of twelve issues. In June 2018 DC Comics announced King would be writing Heroes in Crisis, a limited series centering around a concept he introduced in Batman.

In July 2018, he received the Eisner Award for Best Writer, shared with Marjorie Liu.

In May and June 2019, King, DC Co-Publisher Jim Lee, and CW series actresses Nafessa Williams, Candice Patton, and Danielle Panabaker toured five U.S. military bases in Kuwait with the United Service Organizations (USO), where they visited the approximately 12,000 U.S. military personnel stationed in that country as part of DC’s 80th anniversary of Batman celebration.

In September 2020, DC Comics announced that King would be among the creators of a revived Batman: Black and White anthology series to debut on December 8, 2020. From 2021 to 2022, King was the writer on the eight-issue miniseries Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow with artist Bilquis Evely. Susana Polo, for Polygon, wrote that “with the final issue of Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow I can definitively say this book slaps front to back. […] The best thing Tom King’s done since Mister Miracle”. David Harth, for CBR, commented that since The Omega Men, “King has mostly stayed away from sci-fi, going for a more psychological take on superheroes instead”. Harth highlighted that Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow “is very much a sci-fi epic” and that the series is “even more imaginative than Omega Men’s sci-fi, as it has King flexing his muscles in different ways”.

Personal life

King lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife and three children.

[Latest Update: May 23, 2022]