As if beating Batman wasn’t enough, the Help just revealed a stunning fact that makes his fight with the Dark Knight even more impressive.
The one fighter who Batman was never able to beat is returning to Gotham… at least if the Penguin can convince him to finally step out of retirement. A professional henchman and assassin, the man known as the Help battled the Dark Knight early in his career, schooling Bruce Wayne in combat more thoroughly and brutally than any other fighter has managed on skill alone. Now, Oswald Cobblepot is looking to recruit him for a new mission that will establish the Penguin as Gotham’s supreme and unquestioned gang lord once again.
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In Tom King, Rafael de Latorre, Marcelo Maiolo and Clayton Cowles’ The Penguin #2, Oswald reaches out to his old confederate, who is living a life of luxury. As the Help’s inner monologue (and then that of his butler) narrates Penguin’s arrival, fans learn that the villain retired at 85. Given that he originally appeared during Batman’s early years in Batman: Killing Time, and the fact that the Dark Knight has been protecting Gotham for roughly a decade in canon, this means Batman was beaten to a pulp by a 75-year-old man. The reveal emphasizes how skilled the Help actually is – he’s as far from a fighter in his prime as it gets, and yet a lifetime dedicated to combat has given him skills even Batman is forced to envy.
The Help Is Back to Conquer Batman’s City
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In David Marquez and Tom King’s Batman: Killing Time #3, Batman faced the Help during his formative years as a hero. The Help beat Bruce Wayne because he’s essentially his opposite – while Bruce traveled the world learning how to fight from every master of combat, it turns out that the Help is the person who taught them everything they know. The Help ran rings around Batman, dodging his every attack while identifying all his tutors by name, from Ra’s al Ghul to Henri Ducard, before laying him out with a heavy steel cane. While the Help was later beaten by Catwoman – whose feral combat style made her harder to predict – he left Gotham with the reputation of having never fallen to the Dark Knight.
Batman Has Another Opportunity to Beat the Help
Now, the Penguin is trying to bring him out of a well-earned retirement – one that the Help’s narration makes it very clear he has no desire to end. However, the Penguin suspects that the Help’s happy retirement isn’t all it seems, calling out his uncharacteristic desire to turn down a new challenge, even as the issue’s summary asks, “can the Penguin free the Help from a prison of his own making?” While the preview ends with the Help inviting Penguin on a hunt (of what will surely turn out to be human prey), it seems the issue will focus on their debate, and Oswald’s efforts to bring the ultimate right-hand man back into the fold.
Penguin Has Never Been More Dangerous
Of course, Penguin isn’t heading back to Gotham because he wants to. Oswald finds himself under the thumb of Amanda Waller and his new handler Agent Nuri Espinoza, having tried and failed to start a new life away from violent crime. Like the Help, the Penguin truly didn’t want to return and – with his new love interest held hostage to ensure his cooperation – it’s a guarantee that he’s plotting a way to both reclaim Gotham and destroy the government agents who have dared to threaten him. With such a delicious game afoot, it’s likely the Help can be tempted back for one last mission.
That means Batman gets one final chance to face down the octogenarian who crushed him in a fight, and show off everything he’s learned in the years since. Hopefully, it will be enough, because together, Penguin and the Help represent two villains who Batman has never actually been able to stop.
The Penguin #2 is coming from DC Comics September 26.