Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Question, part III

You drive a hard bargain Jensen, you Godless prick.

by Jonathan Egan

In order to decide whether or not these eleven issues that you have put forth would ensure the Penguin's victory, we must first address them each on their own merits.

1. Harvey Dent has not yet "turned to the Dark Side," and is still working tirelessly to rid Gotham City of evil-doers. However, he and commissioner Gordon are distracted with massive corruption in the Gotham City police force, and are busy with internal affairs.

This could easily be taking place. Gotham City's police force was well-known as being one of the most corrupt institutions in human history. It is easy to imagine a scenario in which both Gordon and Dent would be preoccupied by internal affairs, however I don't think there's an amount of work big enough to keep either of them from at least addressing the problem of the Penguin, were it clear that he was about to become a major threat to the community at large. This may allow the Penguin to operate a while longer, but when it comes down to his plot succeeding I don't think that internal affairs will make much of a difference.

2. The Riddler is currently confined in Arkham Asylum, but for how long?

The Riddler himself is a much larger threat than the Penguin alone, and has been known to associate with Oswald from time to time. Should the Riddler escape from Arkham there is an excellent chance that it would bring nothing but good things for the Penguin and his crooked sense of morality.

3. Amazingly, the Joker and Mr. Freeze are working on grand schemes independent from the Penguin, and each other, forcing the heroes of Gotham to fight on three fronts.

This whole thing could, conceivably, hinge entirely on what either of those two are doing, and what stage they're in. The Joker, in particular, is known for exceptionally gruesome crimes, and if he is hitting his stride then there is no doubt that the heroes of Gotham would be concentrating on him. However if all three of these plots are in their early stages, then it is possible that Napier and Fries won't act as much of a distraction. Keep in mind that the Dark Knight has gotten very, very good at multitasking.

4. Alfred is, of course, Alfred.

Of course. He has to be. Bruce Wayne would have all kinds of bitten the dust long ago if it weren't for Alfred's support.

5. Catwoman is giving Batman her "I'm your friend... or am I?" routine.

This is something that Batman is pretty used to happening. It may be that since she is not included in those who are embarking on "grand schemes" that she is something that he is perfectly capable of putting on the back burner while he takes the Penguin to task. Bros before hos, etc.

6. There are no porpoises!


7. He is working alone.

Okay. I will assume that he still has the usual crew of henchman and the like, which seem to be fairly standard.

8. Robin is, well, Robin.

Which Robin?

[JENSEN CLARIFIES: This means that Robin, although enthusiastic and good hearted, is useless. A mindless albatross around Batman's neck who is there only to point out the obvious in a campy manner.

I was hoping that you would say Jason Todd, who is to my knowledge the only comic book character ever to be killed by democracy. Instead we will just envision Burt Ward. This isn't a problem. Robin was largely useless until Tim Drake, anyway. While Dick Grayson was a promising lieutenant, he was too hot-headed to really be a second to the Batman. Jason Todd was too full of rage and died anyway. Tim Drake, however, genuinely desires to be the world's greatest detective, and when Bruce Wayne is finally done he probably will be. Every other Robin has been pretty much just a side note–even Dick, who continues his adventures as Nightwing, but nobody cares.

9. Batgirl is not around because she does not exist.

Does James Gordon still have a daughter?

[JENSEN CLARIFIES: I did not know that she was an actual character in the comics. I assumed that Joel Schumacher's lackey of a writer invented her. Now that you have enlightened me with the truth, She is Commissioner Gordon's Daughter. This of course means that if she helps Batman in the comic book, she is in this scenario. She is also just one more distraction for commissioner Gordon who already has a full plate.]

Okay, so, since she's around, has the Joker shot and paralyzed her yet so that she can move from her role as Batgirl to the Oracle, or is she still swinging around on rooftops? And for that matter, does Gordon know yet what she's up to?
You know what, I'm just going to strike this one completely on the grounds that you don't know what the hell you're talking about. We're going to assume that Jim Gordon has a daughter, that she is as yet unharmed by the Joker, but that she never becomes Batgirl. Everyone's happy. Never talk to me about this again.

10. The Penguin's purpose is two fold: He wants riches. He wants to kill Batman.

This is acceptable. Though the Penguin's nature isn't as violent as most, it is easy to imagine that if he had to chance to get rid of Batman he would most certainly make an attempt to do so. Though I do question the Penguin's ability to concoct a scheme by himself that would allow him not only to strike it rich but to also bring about the end of his enemy at the same time. This is a massive undertaking, and the idea should not be taken lightly. Perhaps he should concentrate on destroying Burt Ward. He was always an annoyingly easy target, what with being a complete sissy and everything.

11. There are no Blonde Bombshells, Buxom Beauties, or groupies of any kind.

What, Wayne's not dating anymore? I suppose this negates the importance of Stipulation Number Five, huh? I double-dog-dare you to make an argument that shows Catwoman as anything but a Blonde Bombshell, Buxom Beauty, etc. She basically only functions as a romantic lament and distraction for the Dark Knight. She definitely falls into this category. But alas, if they're not around, the lack of distraction will only help Batman to focus on the task at hand, namely stopping the Penguin.

If all this were happening; Will the Penguin's insidious plot succeed?

Yes, maybe. Though I don't believe that most of these variables would make much of a difference to Batman as he continues his crusade against evil in Gotham City, there are one or two that swing the balance heavily in the favor of the Penguin. Thus, I submit to you the following:

With these variables in mind, the Penguin's insidious plot could, in theory, succeed IF:

1. The Riddler escapes from Arkham. Whether or not he offers any outright aid to the Penguin isn't necessarily important. His mere presence on the streets of Gotham is certain to lend unexpected collateral aid to Oswald's devious cause. Another heavy criminal at large is sure to distract the Batman a bit, as well as embolden those who are already scheming.

2. The Joker's plans are about to hit full speed. It would be most wise of Batman and his friends to concentrate most of their efforts on the Joker, whose schemes are consistently far more deadly than anybody else's. While Mr. Freeze is a huge threat to peace and justice, the Joker's actions are typically far more public and wide-spread than anybody else's.

3. The Penguin's plot, though insidious, is fairly simple. I question the Penguin's ability, no matter what the environment looks like, to execute anything terribly elaborate. Oswald Is at his best when his sights are high but his methods are subtle.

4. The Penguin decides that Batman's death is a secondary goal, and he will settle for serious injury. Striking it rich in Gotham is one thing, but actually managing to kill Batman? The Penguin would have to be supremely lucky indeed to succeed where the Joker, Ra's Al Ghul and even the Scarecrow and Hush have failed. The Penguin's assumption that killing Batman will be a simple matter thanks to his careful planning may be only the pride before his long, long fall.

So if these four incredibly unlikely points – all of which rely on your variables – were to come to fruition then yes, yes the Penguin might succeed. But for how long could he reign victorious? Justice in Gotham, though occasionally difficult to find, is no less swift or decisive when it finally arrives. Also it should be noted that if the Penguin does, in fact, finally manage to kill the Batman then he will draw an unbelievable amount of attention to himself that could be nothing but detrimental to his future criminal exercises.

The Penguin would be wise to ask himself this: Would he rather be successful, or alive? I still maintain that the Penguin is better off as a petty crook, and that he should leave the fighting of legends to the true men and women of repute in Gotham City.

On the other hand, as Winston so aptly put it, "It's always the quiet ones."