Penguin is pissed, as if you've been reading the title, probably saw coming. So pissed that he takes a midnight stroll through the zoo and visits the penguins... and the stash of illegal weapons he had hidden in their exhibit. Loaded to the teeth with a bunch of his umbrella guns, Penguin hops in a boat, and heads off to his casino.
Earlier, Batman is cleaning up the mess at Arkham Asylum, where he finds Penguin, who is pleading with Batman that he was forced to go along with everything due to the Joker, and doesn't belong in the asylum. Bruce agrees, but tells Penguin he belongs in Blackgate, to which Penguin doesn't agree. Penguin points out that any claim Batman makes, he doesn't have proof to back it up, which is true, as Penguin walks out the front door, calling for a pick up. As Bruce watches Penguin leave, Aaron Cash brings up the fact that they have a missing prisoner... Zsasz.
Later, Bruce stands at Damian's grave, mourning his son.
As Penguin shows up to his mansion, two thugs keep him out, claiming they work for the Penguin, to the real Penguin's surprise. Penguin goes to find a pay phone and calls Ogilvy, who amusingly makes him wait five minutes, before picking up the phone, and giving his former boss a lesson on the cuckoo bird, and how they lay eggs in other birds' nests, then hangs up. To make things worse, Penguin then finds that Ogilvy had bought his name onto the very children's center that he stole from Bruce Wayne.
Later, Bruce is doing some serious Batmaning on a relatively quite Gotham night, knowing that Zsasz is still on the loose. While investigating a break in at the zoo, he over hears a police report about shots fired at the Iceberg Casino, where sure enough, he finds Penguin lighting up the place.
Penguin is quickly apprehended, as Bruce brings up his recent trip to the zoo, and like Al Capone, no matter how small the crime is in the grand scheme of things, all it takes is one slip up to bring the big crime boss down. As Penguin is getting arrested, he tells Batman that his lawyers will have him out within the hour... yeeeeeah, but Zsasz ended up getting to them first, so that's not happening.
Later, Zsasz goes to collect from Ogilvy, who is meeting with Ms. Volkova, who Talon readers will recognize. Anya, being a former member of the League of Assassins, is cutting a deal for protection with Ogilvy, who wants something more than money... he wants to fight fire with fire, against the one remaining man in Gotham who poses a threat to him, Batman. Anya's payment? The Man-Bat serum.
Moving on to the backup, we see Zsasz's escape during "Death of the Family," where he spots Penguin in all the chaos. We get reminded that Zsasz lost all his money gambiling it away at the Penguin's casino, and he's still a bit pissed. In the present, before Zsasz can go after Penguin, Joker stops him, as he has his own plans for Penguin, but sets Zsasz free on Gotham. It's in a dark alley where Ogilvy finds Zsasz and offers him a job. As a peace offering, Ogilvy offers up Zsasz an owl dagger, and tells him to go after their common enemy, the Penguin.
There were a bunch of small bits that I really enjoyed in this issue. I love how Batman eventually brought Penguin down. Reading it I thought "Oh, this is like Al Capone" and then of course Layman brings that comparison up. Also, while reading the main feature, I thought Zsasz's blade had that Owl look, and sure enough, Layman does use that fiction in the back up to confirm, it very much is a Court of Owls' blade. Then we also had the cameo of Anya from Talon. Like I said, I just really enjoyed all the little things like that peppered through out the issue.
In the bigger picture, I loved the fact that this was the issue where everything starts to go wrong with the Penguin. Ogilvy remains a pretty entertaining guy, and his brief interaction with his old boss was golden. Penguin is a character who, I've never been a huge fan of in terms of Bat rouges, but it's really fun to see how his downfall plays out from month to month. I'm honestly wondering if Ogilvy will be a permanent fixture in Gotham, as they may give regular penguin a rest. I kind of hope so.
The tacked on "requiem" piece... it wasn't really necessary. With it, it creates all sorts of time line issues, that normally I don't care about, but sandwiching two big events like "Death of the Family" and Damian's passing together, makes it all too obvious... unless Penguin was trapped in Arkham for a long, long time. I have a feeling Layman and company weren't to blame, but it was just unnecessary, and didn't fit.
The Bottom Line:
Penguin's downfall has truly begun, and it's still as entertaining as ever. Layman and Fabok continue to craft these nice one issue stories, while laying crumb trails between issues both in the past and coming soon. It's unfortunate that the Requiem thing was tacked on, because when you really start to think about it, it feels pretty cheap. Regardless, if you've been enjoying the rise of Emperor Penguin, then there's still a lot to enjoy here. Who knows how crazy it's going to get in issue not #900 next month?