Batman Eternal #7: Penguin Down

If you’ve seen the cover, you know what’s about to happen. Years of planning, plotting, murders and umbrella-hoarding have led us to this point: that Iceberg Lounge is headin’ straight to the bottom of the harbour, Pengie! It’s Batman Eternal #7!

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Writers: Tim Seeley, James Tynion IV and Scott Snyder
Consulting Writers: John Layman, and Ray Fawkes
Artist: Emanuel Simeoni
Colorist: Blond
Letterer: Rob Leigh

Although part seven of Batman Eternal has a striking cover from Andy Kubert, it is rather poor form to give away the plot and ending of the issue. Most of this issue is about an attack on Penguin’s floating ‘Iceberg Lounge’ casino, which before we turn one page we already know is going to be blown up. Let’s hope that there’s more than one trick up their sleeves here then, eh?

After that random truck got blown up last week, Batman rescues the driver and puts him inside the Batmobile where he has what appears to be a bat-shaped apparatus which administers oxygen. Is there anything he won’t Bat-modify? Get them on the NHS, pronto. It’s a shame Bruce Wayne doesn’t exist in the real world, it’d be nice if he could take over running our healthcare system, even if he probably would insist on putting little bat ears on top of all the buildings.

The explosion also caused problems elsewhere, most notably the incredibly blatant secret lab owned by Professor Pyg. Pyg is furious at this, for the on-point character beat that this affects his perception of his possessions being ‘perfect’ at all times. He’s holding one of those wind-up clock toys that make animal noises, which apparently is the way he activates his ‘dollotrons’ and sets them off, drills in hand.

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Now, it’s fair to say that the dollotrons are arguably the absolute most horrifying thing to ever get approved by Bat-editorial. It’s part of the rules that all Batman’s villains escape routinely and return with grander and grander plans – but Pyg’s army of dollotrons involves horribly mutilating people, reducing their identity entirely, and ruining them. Every time you see Pyg with an army of identikit dollotrons by his side, it’s different to when you see, say, Bane and a bunch of other militia-types backing him up. They’re at least motivated by something or making the decision – dollotrons are thoughtless slaves, and they’re one of the few comics creations which makes me actively sad whenever I see them. It fits the story, but they remain a horrific sight.

At the Iceberg Lounge, Penguin is yelling at one of his guards, who is called ‘fishnet’ due to the fact that he, uh, wears fishnets on his head. Is it fair to say that Penguin has the worst taste in minions of any other character in Gotham? Having said that, Penguin slashes the guy round the face with his umbrella but the fishnets seemingly protect him from any wounds. Are they magical fishnets, I wonder. Turns out somebody has infiltrated their inner operations – that somebody being Catwoman. She’s also captured somebody called ‘Ms Lark’ and tied her to a piece of iceberg, for reasons unknown.

A lot of this issue seems to happen without any real reason or coherency, which is why the next panel sees Batman riding his motorbike whilst being swarmed by dollotrons. It’s hard to tell who is doing what in this armed warfare running through the streets of Gotham, but the next page establishes that Falcone is unconnected to Dr Phosphorous – the explosion at the end of last issue was just a random attack for fun, it seems. Falcone’s associates are actually Roadrunner (yeah, there’s a DC character called Roadrunner) and Tiger Shark. Who, just so you know, is a man who wears a Daredevil-esque headscarf covering his eyes, and is accompanied by a tiger.

It doesn’t make sense, no. He could just call himself Tiger; or perhaps he could just hire some actual tiger sharks to be his pets instead. I mean, tiger sharks are considered apex predators, so it’s not like they aren’t scary. He doesn’t even routinely force his tigers to engage his enemies in underwater combat, and frankly it just seems like a waste.

Catwoman’s reasoning for breaking into the casino is that she thinks the missing kids – which I think refers to the nano-infected kids Red Robin’s been dealing with – have been abducted by Penguin somehow. She has no evidence for this, and Penguin promptly shoots a grenade at her through his umbrella. In the absolute best moment of the whole comic, a perimeter alert goes off, and Penguin asks for a visual… from his “Peng-Cams”. Yes! Penguin has actually fitted cameras onto penguins, and uses them to patrol the underside of his casino. You see, Tiger Shark? Was that really so difficult?

Although penguins being penguins, the problem is that they aren’t much of a threat to anyone when they do detect something, and Peng-Cam one is promptly eaten by a killer whale. Alas, poor Peng-Cam One.

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Batman is still fighting Pyg while all this is going on, by the way. Tim Seeley is writing the issue, and as probably the greatest fan of Grant Morrison’s Bat-Run around, he has a great time installing bizarre nonsense into the character’s mouth. He also gets in a reference to “what does the fox say?”, which deserves merit. Tim Seeley, you’re doing the lord’s work, dialogue wise.

As Catwoman ignores the ongoing attack to the casino and continues to fight Penguin, he reveals that he’s working with Dr Phosphorus – but only to the extent that whoever was taking people off the streets was depleting Doc’s complement as well, and so Doc wanted somebody to help him retrieve his minions. Jeez, it’s terrible being on the streets in Gotham, isn’t it? If you’re not getting infected with nanobots, you’re getting turned into a dollotron, pledging allegiance to a radioactive dude, or – worst of all – being forced to spend time with Joker’s Daughter.

Falcone’s people set charges to Penguin’s Casino and blow it up. Falcone watches with Roadrunner from his literal glass tower. Falcone is also wearing these bright red sunglasses the whole issue despite it being set at night, which is a boss move. Despite getting blown up, the gamblers don’t see any reason to leave the casino just yet, so Catwoman has to start trying to save them from what could’ve been a promisingly deranged ‘Poseidon Adventure’ rip-off. Fishnet is amongst them, wearing a plaster… over his fishnets. You’re the most Tim Seeley character I’ve ever seen, Fishnet.

Meanwhile Batman’s interminable battle with the dollotrons finally comes to an end, and at the same time he points out that all Pyg’s plans were in the end just a distraction so Batman wouldn’t be able to stop the Iceberg Lounge from being blown up. Not entirely sure that his logic stacks up, given he had no idea that an attack was planned, but let’s just let Batman have this one.

Penguin himself goes into the water – hey, just like on the cover! – but has to drop the bags of money he’s holding due to a killer whale attack. I’m not sure if the killer whales are also on Falcone’s payroll, but they seem to still have both their fins so that rules out the possibility that Joker’s Daughter hired them. Catwoman rescues him out of the water, which is strange because you’d usually expect penguins to take to water far more easily than a cat would. He ends the issue crying about having lost his legacy, but I’m more concerned about the thought that his elephant seals might be on the loose now. What if this is all an elaborate crossover with Arrested Development?

The police arrive to find Professor Pyg tied up by his burning factory, but Forbes shows up and cuts Pyg free. He says they aren’t going to work with Batman. So… he’s going to let Professor Pyg go? Forbes couldn’t have a bigger neon ‘I’m corrupt, duh’ sign hanging over his head, and it’s amazing that none of the other police officers don’t just clock him one and throw him in a cell next to Pyg.

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Well, it all turns out great for him on the last page, because the freed Professor Pyg heads straight over to Roadrunner’s garage and blows it up, killing Roadrunner in the process. He vows that all of Gotham will now be his new lab, which in essence means this fairly lame-duck part of the narrative is just going to stretch on even further, I guess.

So just to clarify:

  • Falcone is working with Commissioner Forbes, Mayor Hady, Roadrunner (RIP), Gentleman Ghost and Tiger Shark
  • Penguin is working with Imperceptible Man, Mr Mosaic, Hypnotic, and Mr Combustible
  • Penguin is also at truce with Dr Phosphorus
  • Dr Phosphorus is working with (I think) Joker’s Daughter, Deacon Blackfire and Maxie Zeus.
  • Professor Pyg is now working for himself
  • Cluemaster is planning something with his buddies and an unseen third party
  • There’s also a guy with a cybernetic half-monkey injecting children with nanobots.

I… think? This is not clear at all right now.

45 more issues to go.

Want to read along with Shelfdust? You can pick up Batman Eternal Vol 1 from Amazon here – and buying it from our link helps us out too!

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