Reviews: Huntress #1 and Penguin: Pain & Prejudice #1

According to any number of calendars–and believe me, I checked–September is very much over. But what’s two more, eh? And to be honest, these deserve some love.

Huntress #1

Huntress #1

Written by Paul Levitz
Art by Marcus To

Have crossbow, will travel.

There are many desirable destinations along the Mediterranean. Cargo container 8894 is least among these. Packed within, find cool black ammunition bound for Gotham City. But that’s not all. Huddled together for warmth and reassurance, half a dozen lost girls await the light of some distant day. Fortunately for these six, it’s not the men with the hooks and the rifles who open the door. It’s a woman clad all in purple and black. An angry woman and that Mediterranean air. The Huntress came for the guns, came to intercept the violence before it could further infect Gotham. But in an instant these girls become her mission and her purpose.

Paul Levitz wisely casts former Bird of Prey (well, presumably) Helena as a jetset vigilante with all the allure and cunning of Catwoman and the cool efficiency of Batman. The plot is admittedly slight, though the prospect of a simple Italian caper and showcase for a not so bubbly female hero is kind of refreshing. Helena is more than capable as a crime-fighter, with a steely spy-hard veneer. There’s a clearly stated mistrust and even disdain for men, and with a case like this one that’s entirely reasonable. With five issues remaining in the mini, there’s also plenty of space to explore the events that led to Helena’s outlook, but even if that’s left off the table I’m very interested in going along for the ride. The verdict’s still out on the anatomical possibility of a certain kick, but otherwise Marcus To offers some wonderful pencils, skipping no beats between action sequences and Roman holiday aesthetics. Perhaps most importantly, scenes involving nighties and smuggled prostitutes never traipse into inappropriate cheesecake territory.

Story: 3.5 / Art: 4: / Overall: 3.5
(Out of 5 Stars)

Picking it up next month? I think so.


Penguin: Pain & Prejudice #1

Penguin: Pain & Prejudice #1

Written by Gregg Hurwitz
Art by Szymon Kudranski

While the previous book offered a character study entirely through present action, Penguin: Pain & Prejudice #1 functions as a definitive cradle to the club origin story, examining past and present in parallel. Fans of Scott Snyder’s prose style will find a similarly thoughtful and sinister script from novelist Gregg Hurwitz. Oswald Cobblepot is the self-described meanest man in Gotham, and nature and nurture both have roles to play. Born into a prominent family with a decidedly avian nose and other disfigurements only a mother could love (and this is very much the case), young Oswald is an object of scorn and ridicule before he even has a name. Rejected and abused by his peers, he finds companionship in birds domestic and wild. He embraces their jeering “Penguin” monicker and adapts to a cruel world by becoming far crueler. In adulthood, Oswald Cobblepot is a glorified don, the CEO–maybe COO–of Gotham’s Murder, Inc. It must be said though that Hurwitz’s Penguin is much more than an amalgamation of Ebenezer Scrooge and Quasimodo. He’s entirely self-aware and can trace every speck of bird seed that brought him to this point. While I don’t think Kudranski’s pencils match the quality of the script, the mood and atmosphere of this consistently chilling yarn is capably rendered, with a shadowy present and sickly yellow flashbacks. This has all the makings of a terrific character study and ought not be missed.

Story: 5 / Art: 3 / Overall: 4
(Out of 5 Stars)

Picking it up next month? Definitely.


  1. I completely agree on the Huntress. It was very refreshing that there was no mention of anything tied to continuity or when this takes place. I kind of hope there isn’t as the mini goes on. Let this just be.

    I didn’t pick up the Penguin one, but now I’m curious.

  2. Penguin is definitely worth picking up

  3. I didn’t pick up either of these. I may grab them if I ever get another light week.

  4. Gotta be honest, i kinda want Gregg Hurwitz to take over writing duty after Tony Daniel is done with the Dollmaker story. He seems to fit perfectly especially since Snyder’s doing a more lighter take on Batman then what he did with his run on Detective.

  5. Seconded on Huntress. Now that’s a sexy book.

  6. Dammit! Penguin got a 5?!? Now I have to pick it up 😉

  7. Is there seriously no limit to the number of Bat books DC can put out? LOL

  8. Didn’t pick it up yet, but kind of intrigued about the tease at the end of DC books this week about Huntress’s connection with Earth-2 in the rebooted DCU.

  9. Haven’t gotten around to reading huntress yet but so glad to hear it’s good. I’m always a bit skeptical of Paul Levitz, but glad to see that it worked

  10. I picked both of these up but haven’t gotten a chance to read them yet. Totally looking forward to them though.

  11. Huntress was good. I especially liked the art. Will go get Penguin now that it has fans.

  12. Huntress 3.5? u kidding me?

  13. I added Huntress at the last minute. Good book. Bit of a “caper” vibe in some respects. If it were a TV show, it would be a pretty darn good episode. As it is, it’s a pretty darn good comic.

    And as for that kick – hasn’t Michelle Yeoh pulled off very similar kicks? But I admit that maybe I imagined that because Michelle Yeoh is awesome.

  14. Personally, I enjoyed The Huntress. Paul Levitz is a solid writer who knows how to craft a story. Marcus To is an unsung talent for DC. I think both deserved a better rating than they did. I would really like someone knowledgeable on this site to discuss the trend in art and visual storytelling. I think too often personal taste for the bizarre blinds some of the writers to a good draftsman who does the task of storytelling well. Too often, the moody, jarring artist gets undue praise and adoration over someone who crafts the body in a more aesthetically pleasing manner. Draftsmen like Curt Swan, John Buscema, Gene Colan or Gil Kane were craftsmen of stories that did their job without calling attention to themselves.