Danny DeVito is returning to his leathery flippers this year, with a short story for the anthology prestige issue Gotham City Villains Anniversary Giant #1, slated for the 30th of November 2021. For those unfamiliar, the ‘prestige’ format by DC Comics is an often overlooked one. It’s essentially a thicker single issue with a visible spine, card stock cover and no adverts throughout the book, making it more akin to an actual book than a comic. The solicitation mentioned refers to the book as ‘oversized’, a term generally reserved by DC for larger-than-standard hardcovers and the the ‘prestige plus’ giant Black Label issues. This particular special is slated to be 96 pages long and feature at least eight stories. Danny DeVito is to write a Penguin story, to mark the 80th anniversary of the character, who first appeared in Detective Comics #58 in the December of 1941.
DeVito took fans by surprise with his gnarly and gritty portrayal of the Penguin in 1992’s Batman Returns, opposite Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman and Michael Keaton as Batman and directed by Tim Burton. Keaton has been confirmed to reprise his role in 2022’s The Flash movie, with Pfeiffer and DeVito rumoured to at least cameo in the highly anticipated entry to Warner Bros.’ flagship DC movie. Until November of 2022, however, we shall have to get by with this special issue partly penned by DeVito himself. We could expect the story to fit in with DeVito’s portrayal of Penguin, but DeVito is well known for his outlandish imagination and writing skills. Anything is possible, but hordes of fans will be no doubt keen to see where DeVito takes his portrayal nearly thirty years on, in his comic book writing debut.
DeVito’s stark contrast to the portrayals that preceded him, namely Burgess Meredith in ‘Batman ’66’ as it’s known affectionately called, put Oswald Cobblepot firmly in the core Rogue’s Gallery of Batman’s villains. Tim Burton’s vision of Penguin ditched the ‘posh’ and almost gentlemanly supervillain into a deformed and supernatural mutant-like beast living beneath Gotham City, in the sewers with his ex-circus performer cronies. This version of Penguin blackmails a wealthy corporate industrialist, Christopher Walken’s Max Shreck, teams up with Pfeiffer’s Catwoman and frames Keaton’s Batman for a series of crimes.
“Gotham City may be protected by the Dark Knight, but this major metropolitan destination is also plagued by some of the deadliest, most nefarious villains in the DC Universe! In this oversize anniversary giant, DC Comics proudly presents tales of Batman’s deadliest foes written and drawn by some of the biggest, most exciting names in comics! 2021 marks an anniversary year for the Scarecrow, Poison Ivy, Ra’s al Ghul, Talia al Ghul, the Mad Hatter, Killer Moth, and the original Red Hood, and Gotham City Villains Anniversary Giant #1 brings these baddies to life in some big ways! Also featuring the anniversary celebration of the Penguin, written by none other than the man who brought Oswald Cobblepot to life in Batman Returns, star of the silver screen Danny DeVito!”
Joining Danny DeVito are writers Wes Craig, G. Willow Wilson, Phillip Kennedy Johnson, Joshua Williamson, Stephanie Phillips, Dan Watters and Mairghread Scott. Artists on the project include Dan Mora, Wes Craig, Emma Rios, Riccardo Federici, Max Raynor, Max Fiumara, Skylar Patridge, Ariela Kristantina, Khary Randolph, Jill Thompson, Christian Ward and Gabriel Walta. The main cover is by Lee Bermejo, with variant covers by Frank Quitely, Wed Craig, Riccardo Federici, Dan Mora and Maurgerite Sauvage. The 1:25 variant is by Francesco Mattina, and the 1:50 variant is by Chris Burnham.
Gotham City Villains Anniversary Giant #1 will be released on the 30th of November in all comic book retailers. We suspect a hardcover edition will follow in 2022, but don’t miss out on this special issue while it’s available!
Words: Graeme Small