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|As a result of the New 52 in 2011, the entire line of DC characters was relaunched, incorporating properties belonging to the company's imprints: Wildstorm, Milestone, and Vertigo. As such, elements of this character's history have been altered in some way from the previous incarnation. For a complete list of all versions of this character, see our disambiguation page.|
- I embraced my hatred. I embraced their mockery, too. I would take it from them. Own it myself. Penguins can't fly. They are awkward on land. Slow moving. Uncoordinated. So they adapt. Make do with what they have. Play to their strengths. Of all birds, they swim the fastest. Dive the deepest. [...] When they are provoked to fight, their attacks are swift and decisive ... and I vowed that someday, so too would be mine.
- — Penguin src
Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot was born to Tucker and Esther Cobblepot in 1970. Oswald was born with a birth defect that gave him a uniquely beak-like nose that horrified his father so much the man dropped him on the ground moments after birth. Tucker Cobblepot would go on to hate his son for his appearance for the rest of his life, despite Esther showing unconditional love.
Growing up, Oswald was heavily bullied by his older brothers and his peers, who mocked him for his appearance and were the first to compare him to a penguin. Because of their teasing, Oswald developed a fascination with birds, which he felt more kinship with than people.
The only human he cared about was his mother - who was the only person to ever show him compassion. Oswald would craft mechanical birds for his mother as presents, which she always appreciated. Oswald would have an unhealthy obsession with his mother - going so far as to develop a complex of wanting to be strong and powerful through violence due to the way his father did so to get her attention.
One night during his childhood, Oswald's older brothers attacked him and his pet birds, finally going too far for the boy to handle. Oswald secretly murdered all of them one by one to look like accidents - Jason died of poisoning, William in a hit-and-run, and Robert in a freak accident which left him at the bottom of a frozen lake. Oswald would also kill his own father to finally gain all his mother's attention.
During his high school years, Cobblepot considered fellow student Veronica Vreeland the love of his life, even though he had never even asked her on a date. He killed one of his few friends because he thought the friend was romancing Vreeland behind his back (the friend was actually visiting Vreeland to ask her to consider dating Cobblepot).
While in boarding school, Cobblepot would continue to be bullied by his peers, only developing a friendship with one student who continually defended him named Carter Winston. Over the years, Cobblepot would systematically murder all his former bullies, keeping a yearbook with newspaper clipping about their suspicious deaths for his own pleasure.
Before Batman's first official appearance in Gotham, Cobblepot was a rising crime lord, one of his fortes being weapon deals, which he did on his personal blimp. Becoming a good business partner with Luca Falcone, Cobblepot became a weapons smuggler.
At one point, Cobblepot was nearly convicted for a crime he had committed but instead hired one of his desperately poor henchmen named Willis Todd to take the fall for him, having the man go to prison in his place and separating him from his young son Jason.
When Red Hood One, leader of the Red Hood Gang, intended to steal a collection of WayneTech weapons, he targeted the Penguin's blimp, ready to rob the rising rogue. However, the vigilante that would eventually become Batman sprung into action, anticipating Red Hood's move and impersonating Cobblepot with heavy cosmetics. The hero had actually bound and gagged the real Cobblepot elsewhere on the blimp and, forced to flee while on the mission, parachuted to safety carrying Cobblepot with him, marking the Penguin's first encounter with the soon-to-be Batman.
Year Two: War of Jokes and Riddles
Main article: Batman: The War of Jokes and Riddles
During the second year of Batman's career, Penguin was still not the master of Gotham's underworld he would one day become. A lieutenant in Carmine Falcone's operation, Penguin was contacted by the actor Basil Karlo for a less-than-legal edge he could use to make him stand out in the acting world. Cobblepot made him an offer of a magical piece of clay he had gotten his hands on in exchange for Karlo acting as one of his henchmen. Karlo agreed, and the piece of clay transformed him into the Gotham criminal Clayface. However, this piece of history would later be altered years later following a timeline shift involving Superman.
Once again during Batman's second year, Penguin became entangled in what would be called "the War of Jokes and Riddles" between the Joker and the Riddler for the right to kill Batman. The Joker, seeing an opportunity to commandeer Carmine Falcone's operations to bolster his own army, kicked Gotham's strongest crimelord out of Gotham and sent him into retirement. With Falcone's cronies now all belonging to the Joker, Penguin, among them, became a member of the clown's army against Riddler.
For weeks the fighting raged on between the two sides all throughout Gotham until Batman himself was forced to focus his efforts on one army in particular. The Bat chose to set his sights on the Joker and forced Penguin out of the fight.
With Falcone gone and many of his lieutenants killed by the Joker, the Penguin filled the power vacuum in Gotham's underworld and became its new strongest crimelord. From there, he built his own crew, hiring his longtime right-hand man Ignatius Ogilvy and his bodyguard Lark.
Other Early Crimes
At some point, Penguin, as well as Joker, Riddler and Catwoman, was contacted by the Designer - a new criminal in Gotham who volunteered to make their wildest schemes a reality. Penguin, buying into it, asked the Designer for an army of assassins and a mayoral campaign - so he could rule Gotham politically as well. However, the Joker caused the whole deal to fall apart and seemingly killed the Designer, and the villains burned down his base to leave no trace.
After the death of Batman's second Robin, a boy named Tim tried to get Batman's attention and become his new sidekick. To do so, Tim went after the Penguin, but, by doing so, caused Cobblepot to target Tim and his family. Though Tim successfully caught Batman's attention and was eventually trained to become the hero Red Robin, he and his family were forced into witness protection to avoid the Penguin's ire, with Tim using his middle name as his last name - Drake.
Not long after the grand reopening of the Iceberg Casino, Cobblepot began a new scheme by reaching out to new villains in Gotham that were willing to pay to work with him. Penguin decided to use the money to fund corrupt Mayor Sebastian Hady's re-election campaign and bribe other officials into backing out. However, with such a big pot of money on the line, criminals Jill Hampton and Snakeskin made a play to steal it from Penguin, double-crossing each other and making separate deals with the Penguin, only to have the entire operation stopped by Batman - and Cobblepot's reputation injured.
On the Night of the Owls, Cobblepot was among the list of important Gotham citizens to be assassinated, as determined by the Court of Owls. The Talon that had been assigned to kill him ambushed Penguin in his office in the Iceberg Casino, only to discover that, coincidentally, Cobblepot had the assassin's missing antique knife in his collection - having purchased it because it was bird-themed. The assassination attempt was stopped by Catwoman, who, again coincidentally, planned to rob the Penguin that night and saved his life. For this, Penguin offered her one free favor she cash in whenever she wanted.
Cobblepot tried to regain his influence and power in Gotham by "replacing" Bruce Wayne. In his first step, the Penguin undermined the opening of a new wing of a Gotham community center that would've been named in honor of Martha Wayne by doubling the donation and threatening its manager - instead having it named in honor of his mother Esther Cobblepot. In addition to this, Cobblepot hired the Ghost Dragons to assassinate Wayne at the ceremony. However, after realizing that humiliating Wayne was enough, he tried to call off the hit but was unable to. Therefore, while the Ghost Dragons attacked, Cobblepot publicly killed one and forced them to disperse, earning a massive amount of respect from the public for saving Wayne's life.
When the Joker returned to Gotham wearing his own severed face skin as a mask with the intention of getting all of Batman's rogues together to kill the Dark Knight's allies, the Penguin was among the first criminals he contacted. The Joker tricked the Penguin and his men into going to a remote church outside Gotham where the clown had murdered a large collection of lieutenants from the Penguin's rival gangs using the man's own gun umbrella. The Joker threatened to blame all the murders on Penguin if the crimelord refused to play into his scheme. Oswald hesitantly agreed and was assigned the position of "bishop" in Batman's court of villains - because Penguin was the indisputable leader in the "religion of organized crime" in Gotham.
While he was indisposed with the Joker's plan, the Penguin left his operations under the control of his long-time and most trusted lieutenant Ignatius Ogilvy, who used the opportunity to betray Penguin, declare him dead, and announce himself as the new leader of the Penguin's empire under the name "Emperor Penguin".
Once he was done with the clown's scheme, which ultimately failed to kill any of Batman's allies, the Penguin returned to the Iceberg Casino to discover the coup. Furious, the Penguin attacked Ogilvy but was caught by Batman before he could reclaim his place. Ogilvy ran the empire for a time, with one of his plots releasing Kirk Langstrom's Man-Bat Serum on a district of Gotham, turning a group of citizens into man-bats. In order to fight against Batman himself, Ogilvy also took the serum with additional experimentations done by Poison Ivy, turning him into a blue monster. With his new powers, Ogilvy managed to defeat Batman in a one-on-one fight, and the Bat was only saved by Penguin's intervention. The bat and the bird forged a temporary alliance, and defeat Ogilvy, allowing Penguin to reclaim his place at the top of the underworld.
The War in Badlands
It did not take Oswald long to resume his criminal activities. Almost immediately afterwards he began a gang war in which he hoped to eradicate Catwoman and the new rising gang the Rat-Tails. Oswald easily began the war and soon after decided on a new way to eliminate his enemies. He decided on manipulating Clayface and the Mad Hatter though Batman quickly put an end to the violence.
Around this time, Penguin would get involved in human trafficking, but this too would be stopped by Batman.
When the Crime Syndicate arrived on Earth and seemingly killed the Justice League, Gotham City was sent into a wave of panic without Batman to defend them. Cobblepot, undaunted by the hysteria, ran the Iceberg Casino as usual. As the city began to break down, a group of card sharks known as "the Illusionists" attempted to cheat the system at Penguin's casino, which resulted in the order to have both them and their families killed. So, business as usual.
Later, Governor Carter Winston, an old friend of Cobblepot's from grade school, attempted to bring justice to Gotham in Batman's absence by first targeting the Penguin and his operations. Having a tense dinner together, Winston swore that he would bring his old pal down for the crimes the Penguin committed. Penguin, disappointed that he was being underestimated, drugged Winston with Venom and blackmailed the governor when the man woke up the next morning with his assistant's blood on his hands. Governor Winston, distraught, had no choice but to back down and, the next day, committed suicide by shooting himself on live television.
With matters continually getting worse and worse in Gotham without a hero to save it, the Penguin usurped the current position holder and declared himself the new mayor of the city. During Cobblepot's "term", the super villains from Arkham Asylum and the prisoners from Blackgate Penitentiary began to battle for territory in what was later named the "Arkham War". Playing for both sides, Mayor Cobblepot made deals with the leaders of both armies - Scarecrow representing the Arkhamites and Bane representing the Blackgate prisoners. Penguin traded Bane information in order to have one of Blackgate's prisoners - Emperor Penguin - who Penguin believed hadn't suffered enough for his betrayal.
After many bloody battles throughout the streets of Gotham, Bane and his army were victorious in the war. Mayor Penguin, congratulating him on his victory, awarded the victor food, weapons and free range of the city until he was kicked out of office when Batman returned.
In a yearlong plot to destroy Batman orchestrated by a mysterious malefactor, Penguin became involved in a massive gang war with his former boss Carmine Falcone, who had finally returned to Gotham and wanted to resume his position at the top of Gotham's underworld that Penguin had filled after the the War of Jokes and Riddles.
In a massive power play by Falcone, the crimelord attacked Penguin's Iceberg Casino, sinking into the ocean, destroying a massive amount of Cobblepot's capital and legacy. Though Falcone also tried to have his men assassinate Penguin, he was saved just in time by Catwoman. The war was only just beginning.
Forced to temporarily live in a motel - with even his legally obtained money having been co-opted by Falcone, the Penguin became desperate and attacked Falcone personally, ready to slice the man's throat. However, before he could, his actions were caught on camera by reporter Vicki Vale and both Cobblepot and Falcone were arrested for a litany of crimes, temporarily ending the gang war ... on the outside.
Inside Blackgate Penitentiary, as the two bosses were being processed, a gang war erupted inside the cells between Falcone and Cobblepot's incarcerated crew members - sending the prison into a riot and risking a number of lives. Though the riot was stopped, Penguin remained in Blackgate for a time while Falcone was freed due to his connection with the new corrupt police commissioner Jason Bard. The gang war continued on the outside until, at wit's end, Catwoman accepted her mob boss father Rex Calabrese's suggestion to end the war by becoming their unifying leader herself.
In one final power play, the Penguin initiated another riot in Blackgate, this time personally leading the attack and enjoying his increased power in prison. Penguin told his men to kill former police commissioner Jim Gordon, also trapped in Blackgate, who had been framed for a murder earlier that year. The hit was unsuccessful though, and, despite Penguin remaining at the top of Blackgate's food chain, the riots were again contained.
After the yearlong conspiracy against Batman had ended, the Joker returned to Gotham yet again and sent the city into chaos - performing what he considered his final endgame against Batman. The Penguin, freed from Blackgate in all the commotion and now armed to teeth with assault rifles and modified weapon umbrellas, was among the villains that helped Batman in his fight against the Joker - believing the clown had gone too far.
Rebirth and the Truth of Willis Todd
With the formation of the new Outlaws, Penguin would run into contention with the "heroes" in Gotham when they stopped Professor Pyg from robbing him, only to steal and launder the money themselves.
His conflict with Red Hood would soon escalate even further. Jason Todd was delivered a letter from his father who he believed died in prison when he was a boy. The letter revealed the truth that Willis Todd had taken the fall for a crime that the Penguin had actually committed, and that Willis' death was faked to participate in a secret science experiment in prison. Red Hood, furious that his life had been built on a lie that started with the Penguin, prepared to take revenge.
While Cobblepot debuted his new amusement park on live tv, he was ambushed by the vigilante, who revealed his own identity and his relation to Willis Todd. The Penguin only laughed at Jason, believing he had sold out all the Bat family's identities for a no body like Willis Todd. With no more patience for the catch and release system for Gotham's criminals, Red Hood shot Penguin in the head - right through his monocle, seemingly killing him.
However, ironically, Red Hood had shot Penguin with a blank, which allowed him to survive the point-blank shot by the skin of his teeth. He would be hospitalized but would eventually recover and return to his position at the top of his empire - now with an eyepatch where his monocle used to sit.
In Bane's extreme, multi-faceted plot to finally destroy Batman's spirit, Bane forced Penguin to become involved in the scheme. In order for them to talk face to face, Penguin was willingly processed at Arkham Asylum and was forced to have his head shaved due to a lice outbreak at the facility. After talking to Bane, Penguin was released.
Once he was free, Oswald learned that, in order to make his point clear, Bane had killed Oswald's beloved Penny Cobblepot - a literal penguin Oswald had married. Cobblepot arranged for her to be buried next to a pre-marked grave plot for himself.
Penguin initiated his part in Bane's plan, which involved assassinating Alfred Pennyworth to punish Bruce Wayne for his involvement in Mister Freeze's murder trial. However, at the last second, Penguin relented and called off the hit, hoping to strike a deal with Batman against Bane instead.
However, this was all part of Bane's plan as a means of making Batman seem crazy in the eyes of the GCPD for accusing Bane of such a wild conspiracy. Penguin was brought to the Batcave blindfolded for his own protection, but, after talking to Alfred about poetry, was abducted by Bane's co-conspirator.
Red Hood, Prince of Gotham
When the Red Hood returned to Gotham after temporarily relocating in a deal with Batman, he immediately went after the Penguin yet again, with more revenge planned for what Cobblepot had done to his father.
Red Hood abducted the Penguin and kept him prisoner within his own Iceberg Casino and took over his criminal empire, hiring Suzie Su, Bunker, and his own father now going by Wingman as bodyguards. Batman tried to intervene but was stopped by Jason, who threatened to reveal all their secret identities if the Bat got involved. Red Hood forced Penguin to watch as he ran his organization into the ground.
After being captive for a week, Penguin's emergency protocols went into effect, triggered by his absence, which hired the assassins known as the Five Aces to track him down. The Five Aces tried to rescue Penguin but were stopped and killed by Red Hood.
When Bunker discovered Penguin secretly held prisoner right under his nose, he defected from Red Hood's operation, finding it cruel and unjust and freed Cobblepot. Bunker forced Red Hood from his position as a kingpin, allowing Penguin to reclaim his spot in the Iceberg Casino.
Once Batman had beaten Bane and finally ended the plan to break him, the Penguin was threatened by a villain from his past - the Designer, who he and a group of other villains had seemingly killed early in Batman's career. The Designer, using their own criminal wishes against them, scared the Penguin enough to clean house, kill all his closest associates, and go into hiding to protect his empire.
Golden Horn Penguin
Penguin lost a lot of money in the recession and blamed his investment advisor. He hired Drs. Winston and Laura Shugel-Shen to release a golden demon named Golden Horn King from an ancient Chinese gourd, planning to turn his advisor into gold as compensation for the money he lost. They built a machine which freed Golden Horn King, but he possessed Cobblepot, transforming him into Golden Horn Penguin.
Golden Horn Penguin devoured the qi of his employees but could not satiate his hunger. Two demons came to him with a message from their master, the "Great Ruler of Flame Planet", telling him he could only satisfy his hunger by devouring the soul of a hero. Golden Horn Penguin took the Shugel-Shens hostage and released a video online challenging Batman to face him, saying he would kill them if he did not show up.
Robin and a new hero known as Monkey Prince responded instead. Golden Horn Penguin attacked them but Batman arrived to fight him. Batman managed to restrain Golden Horn Penguin but while he was distracted interrogating Monkey Prince the Demons of Flame Planet came and freed him. Golden Horn Penguin and the demons fought Batman and Robin and Golden Horn Penguin began to devour Batman's Qi, but Monkey Prince used a can of blessed soda to exorcise Golden Horn King from the Penguin's body. Batman arrested Penguin and the demons managed to get away with Golden Horn King, who had devoured enough Qi to maintain a physical form.
Powers and Abilities
- Animal Training: As a child, Oswald trained his pet birds to be able to attack on command.
- Business Management: Oswald has a keen business sense. He has kept his casino business on the right side of the law to set up a front to launder money from his illegal businesses.
- Hand-to-Hand Combat (Basic): Oswald, despite his appearance, is trained in the usage of his personal weaponry. A few thugs or a tussle with Batman is nothing for the Penguin.
- Leadership: The Penguin runs one of the most elusive and strongest gangs in all of Gotham.
- Tactical Analysis: Oswald never forgets an injustice done to him. He may not exact his revenge in the same moment or even the same year but at some point, in some place, he will have his vengeance.His tactical skill ensures the stability and prosperity of his crime empire, which has always remained as the most powerful crime empire in Gotham and claimed victory in gang wars.
- Genius Level Intellect
- Firearms:Penguin is good at using his umbrella shotgun to defend himself against opponents and has been seen taking down armed opponents with firearms on multiple occasions.
- Swordsmanship:Penguin is capable of taking down multiple armed opponents with his umbrella sword.
- Mental Disorder: Oswald was an inmate of Arkham Asylum.
- Monstrous Appearance: Penguin's unique beaked nose is actually a birth defect, one that caused his father to drop him in horror after being born and berate him through childhood.
- Penguin (Oswald Cobblepot) was created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane, first appearing in Detective Comics #58. However, in the Prime Earth continuity, Penguin (Oswald Cobblepot) first appeared as part of the New 52 DC Universe in Penguin: Pain and Prejudice #1 by Gregg Hurwitz and Szymon Kudranski.
- In Batman (Volume 3) #58, it was said that Oswald Cobblepot was born in 1970. While that date can't be taken literally (as time will pass but the character will not age), it does show that Cobblepot was 48 in that story.
- Penguin's prepared tombstone reads "So they lov'd, as love in twain had the essence but in one;" with his beloved penguin Penny's reading "two districts, divisions none; number there in love was slain."
- Cobblepot knows that Bruce Wayne is Batman.
- 290 Appearances of Oswald Cobblepot (Prime Earth)
- 103 Images featuring Oswald Cobblepot (Prime Earth)
- 22 Quotations by or about Oswald Cobblepot (Prime Earth)
- Character Gallery: Oswald Cobblepot (Prime Earth)
- Monkey Prince #2
- Batman (Volume 3) #58
- Penguin: Pain and Prejudice #3
- Penguin: Pain and Prejudice #2
- Penguin: Pain and Prejudice #1
- DC's Beach Blanket Bad Guys Summer Special #1
- Batman (Volume 2) #23.3: The Penguin
- Batman (Volume 2) #22
- Batman (Volume 3) #89
- Teen Titans (Volume 4) #0
- Detective Comics #965
- Detective Comics (Volume 2) #4 - 7
- Catwoman (Volume 4) #9
- Detective Comics (Volume 2) #13 - 14
- Batman (Volume 2) #14
- Detective Comics (Volume 2) #14 - 20
- Catwoman (Volume 4) #19 - 21
- Batman: The Dark Knight (Volume 2) #26 - 27
- Forever Evil: Arkham War #6
- Batman Eternal #7
- Batman Eternal #14
- Batman Eternal #48
- Batman (Volume 2) #39
- Red Hood and the Outlaws (Volume 2) #24
- Batman (Volume 3) #59
- Batman (Volume 3) #60
- Batman (Volume 3) #88
- Monkey Prince #3
- Monkey Prince #1
- Monkey Prince #4
- Dark Knights: Death Metal The Last 52: War of the Multiverses #1
- Nightwing (Volume 4) #77
- Detective Comics #1000
Secret Society of Super-Villains member