The Penguin (Oswald Cobblepot) is a DC Comics supervillain and an enemy of Batman. He was introduced by artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger, he first appeared in Detective Comics #58 (December 1941). He is set to appear in Batman:Arkham City.
The Penguin, one of Batman's oldest foes, is an eccentric criminal mastermind, known as much for his love of ornithology and trick umbrellas as for his already shady business dealings. Gotham City's popular Iceberg Lounge serves as Penguin's front for a number of illegal financial stature, the Penguin is a wily foe whose umbrellas conceal a variety of deadly weapons and gadgets.
In most incarnations, the Penguin is a short, chubby (though he wasn't really fat in the original Batman series) man who wears a tuxedo, top hat, monocle, white gloves (black in Batman Returns), and spats. A mobster-type criminal, he fancies himself a "gentleman of crime". Unlike most Batman villains, he doesn't theme his crimes around a psychotic obsession; his intelligence and aristocratic personality starkly contrast against demented Batman villains, such as the Joker. However, he recently became a mobster and nightclub owner who engages in more quiet criminal activity whom Batman tolerates as a source of criminal underworld information.
The Penguin does, however, possess a few eccentricities. He is known for his love of birds and his high-tech umbrellas that serve some specialized function, such as hang-gliding and weaponry. He also keeps beautiful women around him, perhaps to remind others of his monetary power or to compensate for his own grotesqueness.
Although a second-string villain for many years, Burgess Meredith popularized the Penguin in the 1960s Batman TV show, partially because of his signature squawking laughter. Danny DeVito played a much darker and older version of the Penguin in Batman Returns. This version was not just an unattractive criminal, but a physically deformed, sadistic, megalomaniacal monster. Subsequent Batman animated series have alternately featured the deformed Penguin and a more traditional version.
The deformed version of the character has also appeared in comics, most notably in the miniseries Batman: The Long Halloween and its sequel Dark Victory. He only appears for a minor cameo at the end of the Long Halloween, and has no lines. He plays a slightly more notable role in Dark Victory, when Batman goes to him for information. This incarnation also added elements of the 1966 TV series character, as he shouted the well-known "Waugh waugh" while talking.
Born Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot, the Penguin was teased very much in his childhood due to his short stature, obesity, and bird-like nose. These traits made him an outcast in his rich, debutante family. Their rejection drove him to become evil. These are contrasted against the more aggressive and specific wealth gathering origins of the Batman graphic novel Batman: Penguin Triumphant, which specifically states that Oswald Cobblepot neither is nor ever was insane and merely used his astute mind and scientific skills in developing weapons to intimidate and control others, and the largely attributed Earth-One incarnation origin of the Penguin in Batman #287 (1977).
The Penguin with his trademark umbrella.The Penguin's weapons of choice are the trick-umbrellas he uses to execute his crooked schemes. Several versions of the Penguin's origins say that he was forced as a child to always carry an umbrella around by his over-protective mother due to the fact that his father died of pneumonia after being drenched in a downpour. In keeping with his pretensions of being a refined gentleman, he also prefers to wear formal wear, such as a top hat, tuxedo, and spats during his jobs. The Penguin received his alter-ego from a childhood taunt, bestowed by his peers, who teased him because of his grotesque appearance and love of birds (some retellings of his origin suggest he also suffered from some sort of hip ailment, which caused him to waddle when he walked; the Penguin shows no signs of suffering from this affliction today). Some comics suggest that he tried to abandon the title (which he hates), but it has been permanently brought into popularity by Batman.
After the destruction of the previous primary reality of Earth-One had been removed due to the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths, the new Penguin who emerged native to New Earth had far less girth in his belly and far more mental prowess and focus than any of his previous incarnations. Much of the New Earth Penguin's adventures shows Oswald far more concenetrated on developing and refining his mental skills to overwhelm all of his many foes, not merely the Batman and far, far less attention in his personal indulgences and consumption. In that focus, Penguin began exploring the potential of going straight as a successful means to his own long-term ambition of personal power and accomplishment.
But try as he might, Cobblepot could not overcome the prejudice of being a convicted criminal to gain profitable work nor gain the wealth that he personally desired. Thus, Cobblepot selectively returned to criminal activities but he would continually be found out and imprisoned by both non-powered and superpowered law supporters, Deciding to take advantage of his limitations and contacts during his time in the Suicide Squad, while at Belle Reve Prison (Suicide Squad then headquarters), Cobblepot had his criminal record expunged and gained financially.
Cobblepot decided that it was in his own best interest to emulate his controller in the Suicide Squad and manipulate the many from behind-the-scenes rather than to continually leave himself open to outright threats and arrests which would interrupt his wealth amassing activities as an open criminal.
While attaining social appreciation as a businessman and celebrity host of a successful restaurant and nightclub, Cobblepot also continued to gain success as a criminal mastermind manipulating the massive criminal underground members to largely work for him in his role as a clearing house for their illegal activities. While Cobblepot does still very occasionally participate himself in active criminal activities himself, it is in his role as an indirect and inactive criminal manipulator and social gadfly in the ownership of the Iceberg Lounge, a nightclub that Cobblepot has finally begun to attain the power over the three main groups he wanted: acceptance by the social elite he longed to be included in and who now recognize his legitimate businesses as some of the most successful society people willing frequently join; power over the criminal underground, whose many superpowered members including Killer Croc who need and use Penguin's fencing operations; personal success over his many enemies, including the Batman, who now tolerates Cobblepot's many associate criminal activities for the lack of direct evidence against Cobblepot as well as being an invaluable source of usable information that Cobblepot occasionally shares to law officials and Batman when it does not interfere with Cobblepot's own designs and operations.
The Penguin, as seen in Batman #287 (May 1977). Art by Mike Grell.Penguin continues to operate in this successful mode as the ever entrepreneurial Penguin is often fencing stolen property or arranging early furloughs for incarcerated former criminal associates - for a hefty fee, of course - on the side. During the period when Gotham City was leveled by an earthquake (the "No Man's Land" storyline), he was one of the major players in the mostly-abandoned and lawless city, using his connections (one was eventually discovered to be tied to Lex Luthor and his company) to sell necessities at outrageous prices.
The Penguin first appeared in Detective Comics #58, where he rigged a jewel heist and attempted to steal an emerald penguin. Penguin escaped the Dynamic Duo, but re-appeared countless times over and over. He had teamed himself up with the Joker on more than one occasion and was more umbrella and money obsessed than bird obsessed. He appeared in a purple hat and tails with pin-striped pants. His gloves changed color many times from purple, to orange, then to white. Penguin also wore gangster spats.
After the success of the Batman TV series, Penguin's popularity soared and he was featured in almost as many comics during that time as Joker. Sadly, DC went under new management and Penguin stories stopped being published (only two were made during a ten year period). When Penguin returned to his roots on page , he opened a night club and casino (the Iceberg Lounge) and became less of a crook and more of a kingpin or smuggler.
When the Penguin "reformed" in the early 1980's, he ceased wearing his signature top hat, for he was often seen indoors. He molded his hair after a Rockhopper penguin and was practically glued to his lounge booth.
After putting up with being an information broker to Batman, he went back to crime very briefly. After stealing a rare bird statue, he and Batman got into a scuffle at his old hideout and Penguin called it quits and went back to his booth at his lounge. Once back, he was horrified that Batman got to the statue hidden in an egg he had with him, making things worse for him and vowing revenge on Batman.
After the earthquake and fall of Gotham, Penguin was arguably the most powerful person in Gotham at the time. Though his territory was a bit skimpy, he controlled most of the underworld and gangs. With Arkham Asylum and Blackgate Prison down and it's prisoners free and wanting a piece of Gotham, Penguin found himself in gang wars and disagreements with Two-Face, Killer Croc, Mr. Freeze, and Black Mask a lot. Penguin was shot in the knee with an arrow which cost him half his territory to Two-Face. Penguin soon found it preferable to open clubs and casinos in the overturned buildings and it became a steady way for him to rack in money before Lex Luthor started work on the new Gotham.
The Penguin kept a presence in Gotham as it is rebuilt, mostly due to the efforts of Luthor.
The Penguin becomes swept up in the events of Infinite Crisis. In the limited series' seventh issue, he is briefly seen as part of the Battle of Metropolis, a multi-character brawl started by the Secret Society of Super Villains. The Penguin, along with several other villains, are bowled over by the surprise appearance of Bart Allen.
Later, while the Penguin is away from Gotham City, the Great White Shark and Tally Man kill many of the villains who worked for Penguin, and frame Harvey Dent. Great White had planned to take over Gotham's criminal syndicate and weaken all his competition - Penguin included. Upon his return to Gotham, the Penguin continues to claim that he has gone "straight" and reopens the Iceberg Lounge nightclub, selling overpriced merchandise. He urges the Riddler to avoid crime, as it's more lucrative in their current, non-criminal lifestyle.