"What do you think made him what he is, Batman? Childhood trauma? Some kind of breakdown? He never speaks about it."
―Penelope Young[src]

Dr. Penelope Young was the chief psychiatrist at Arkham Island, well into Batman's career as Gotham City's protector, overseeing the Titan project in an attempt to cure the most dangerous inmates housed within Arkham Asylum. Dr. Young and her exploits within the project would eventually be revealed to be powered by the machinations of the Joker, who manipulated the entire operation for his own ends to finish his battles with Batman and destroy Gotham City and the world beyond.

Biography

Penny Young was always a brilliant student who was prepared to do anything to advance professionally. She has built up a reputation for being a cold, calculating woman, focused only on the project at hand. She was hired at Arkham Medical by Warden Quincy Sharp to head up the city Research Department, and to finally restore to sanity the more deranged of Gotham City's supervillains.

Height: 5ft 6 in

Weight: 121 pounds

Attributes:

  • Graduated from Gotham University Medical School with top honors
  • Dedicated to the pursuit of a psychiatric cure for various forms of criminal insanity
  • Highly focused on career ambitions
  • Intolerant of people who get in the way of her work

Employment at Arkham Asylum

Dr. Penelope Young was a brilliant psychiatrist who secured a respectable reputation as an accomplished and driven professional but was also partially seen as a cold and calculating individual single-mindedly obsessed with advancing her career. Well known throughout Gotham, having established an office and practice within the notorious city, Dr. Young continued to seek additional opportunities to expand her research. Such an opportunity would eventually present itself at Arkham Asylum when an offer was made from Warden Quincy Sharp; an offer that Young could not refuse.

Having reached his breaking point with the notorious criminal mastermind and mass-murderer, the Joker, after a decade of violent breakouts and crime-sprees, Arkham Asylum warden and mayoral candidate Quincy Sharp offered Dr. Penelope Young a lofty position at the asylum as its head psychiatrist, an offer that she readily accepted. Sharp would authorize Young to implement several research and experimental operations at the institution in order to cure the most deadly patients, especially the Joker. However, Sharp secretly knew that Joker could not be cured, actually planning on killing the villain himself, and was simply using Dr. Young's employment at the asylum to gain political points for his mayoral campaign.

Among the most pivotal of Dr. Young's experiments was 'Project Titan,' the research into formulating a chemical compound in order to bolster a patient's strength and invulnerability to help them cope with the more extreme forms of therapy. However, Dr. Young also became absorbed by her own ambitions and believed that the project could breed a strong class of meta-humans that could be sold throughout the globe to interested parties. To this end, the doctor became intrigued by the compound, 'Venom,' used extensively by Bane, and conducted therapy sessions with the brute when he was temporarily moved to Arkham Asylum, believing that the chemicals derived from Venom could be the perfect foundation for her own serum.

However, Dr. Young hit a wall in her research when she ran out of funding and could not contrive a method to obtain the Venom that she needed from Bane. This soon changed as, unknown to Dr. Young, Joker had learned of her project from his associate, Scarecrow, who was previously asked to use his chemical expertise to help in the project by Young, believing Crane to be well on his way to becoming reformed. However, the reality was that Crane lusted to use his own findings in Titan to perfect his own signature Fear Toxin and collaborated with Joker to plan a brutal riot at the Asylum that would serve both their purposes. Specifically, Joker planned to use the Titan Formula to create an army of mindless monsters under his complete control and use them to destroy Gotham and finish his battles with Batman, while Scarecrow lusted to unleash a new strain of Fear Toxin into Gotham to break the mind of every citizen forever and expose Batman's greatest fears.

Posing as one of his oldest aliases, Jack White, Joker used underground channels to fund Dr. Young's research with his ill-gotten fortune and pulled the strings to have Bane transferred out of Blackgate and into the asylum, with Gotham's populace believing that he escaped from the prison and fled Gotham. With everything that she needed, Dr. Young began to drain large quantities of Venom from Bane and ruthlessly experimented on many of the Arkham patients, which caused most of them the last remnants of their sanity. While it would take some time before the Titan Formula would be completed to suit Joker's desires, the foundation of his plans was in order. Joker then turned his attention towards ensuring that, when such a time came, the brutal battles that would play out would only be between him and his eternal rival and best friend; Batman.

Batgirl: A Matter of Family

Around the same time she was employed at Arkham Asylum, Doctor Young also continued in her private practice and prescribed antibiotics to her patients. One patient, in particular, Katie Burke, a young girl previously diagnosed with cancer and the daughter of wealthy Edward Burke, was recommended to Young by her most viable financial backer. Burke was planning on constructing an amusement park atop one of his oil rigs off the coast of Gotham City in hopes of uplifting his daughter's spirits, using Katie's drawings as inspiration to design the SeaGate Amusement Park, and longed to improve and cure her condition.

However, the truth later turned out to be far more sinister, as Burke's motivation was manipulatively planted by the Clown Prince of Crime himself, Joker, as part of a particularly gruesome set of plans that comprised a violent campaign against Batman's allies. Behind the scenes, Harley Quinn and Joker had been impersonating a therapist and doctor (with Joker using the same alias, Jack White) respectively under the guise of helping Burke cope with his tragic circumstances and manipulated the man into retiring and work full-time on constructing the park, which Joker planned to convert into a base of operations as part of his plans to target Batman's network of allies.

Joker referred Burke to Young when Katie's condition worsened and advised the naive doctor to prescribe Katie alternative medicine. Unknown to Burke, the antibiotics prescribed to Katie were experimental, with Dr. Young seeing the ill girl as a useful test subject to better perfect her research into developing new medication for her private practice and even potentially use it as an asset for other operations she was conducting at the asylum, unknowingly being manipulated by Joker the whole time under the same alias as well.

As a result of these alternative drugs, Katie ultimately worsened in her condition and died of a drug overdose after Joker urged Burke to triple her dosage. The villain them convinced the unfortunate man that Katie's death was Burke's fault, hand over the lease for the park for his own use, and to commit suicide via pills he supplied to him, promising Burke that they will be painless. When Burke ingested them, however, it was revealed that they were laced with Joker's signature laughing toxin, as he died painfully and slowly within the office of his own park.

Joker eventually used the park as a staging ground in an attempt to murder Batgirl and Robin, using an abducted Commissioner Gordon as a hostage. The trap proved ineffective against the heroes, who rescued Gordon, but Joker was nonetheless able to escape, eventually resurfacing shortly after to shoot and paralyze Barbara Gordon from the waist down in an attempt to drive her father insane. Despite the horrific attack on his daughter, Gordon retained his sanity, and Joker was apprehended by Batman once again to be returned to Arkham Asylum. While Joker failed to kill or break Batman's allies, he continued in his plans at Arkham via the manipulation or Dr. Young.

Batman: Arkham Asylum

Over the next year, Young continued in her experiments on Bane, who was known to the rest of the Arkham staff as the alias of Patient X, extracting the venom from his body and use it as a compound for her own Titan formula (Bane referred to her as "bruja" for this, Spanish for witch).

Dr. Young concept art.

Dr. Young held her research developments in the Botanical Gardens, where she used a plant-based hybrid to create the formula, testing her first version of it on another prisoner transferred temporarily to Arkham from Blackgate, mutating him into a monstrous beast. Continuing to experiment on Bane, Dr. Young pumped nearly every ounce of Venom from the villain's body to finally complete her project, leaving the unfortunate man strung up within a secret lab and barely clinging to life, and mutated plants within the Botanical Gardens to create unique plant hybrids to produce the desired chemical components necessary to complete the Titan strain, an act that infuriated Poison Ivy.

Believing Joker to be an ideal, first candidate for the research, as curing the apparent insanity of Gotham's most notorious and inhumane villain would further highlight her professional reputation and pave the way for additional research backers, Dr. Young was eventually horrified when Joker revealed during one of their therapy sessions that he was behind the entire project, having funded the research and pulled the strings to have Bane moved to the asylum. Realizing the true scope of the villain's plans and how much damage and tragedy her involvement has caused, Dr. Young was guilt-stricken with all that she has done under Joker's manipulation, transferred the money back, and put a block on her account.

Never one to appreciate when his partners back out of an agreement, Joker began to blackmail and threaten the doctor, before brutally escaping from the asylum after Sharp, under the influence of Strange, attempted to kill him with a knife. With the aid of Scarecrow's new fear toxin, Joker was able to stun Sharp and threaten him with his own knife, before letting him live (believing Sharp's mental state to be a valuable asset to him) and escaping, viciously murdering three guards in the process. For two months, Joker remained under the radar within Gotham City, carefully planning his every move to obtain the Titan formula and create his army himself. Sending threats to Dr. Young and her family, including an image of a deceased infant, Joker warned his former associate that he would be coming for her. Horrified, Dr. Young filed a resignation letter to the asylum and made plans to leave Gotham before Joker returned, as the villain acted on the next steps of his schemes.

Setting a massive fire to Blackgate Penitentiary via a mole among the Arkham personnel, the crooked security guard Frank Boles, Joker instigated a sequence of events that allowed over a thousand of his crew to be transferred from the prison and into the asylum. Staging an attack on the mayor at City Hall, Joker allowed himself to be easily captured by Batman in order to ensure that the hero would personally return him to Arkham Asylum, where the villain would commence the Arkham riots with his transferred army to obtain the Titan formula and finally finish his battles with the Dark Knight and destroy Gotham.

Knowing of Joker's true goals as he was returned to the asylum, Dr. Young was terrified as the Clown Prince of Crime was escorted by heavy security back to his cell. She waited in the Intensive Treatment Lobby as a security team of armed and armored guards took the Joker to the Cell Block Transfer Corridor, accompanied by Batman. As the guards escorted the Joker past Young, two guards stood on either side of her, aiming assault rifles at the Joker should he attempt to make a lunge for her. One of the guards, Maria Andrade, ordered Young to keep behind her. The Joker gave many shrewd and sinister remarks to Young, who appeared pale. As the Joker was being taken back to his cell, Dr. Young left the area, telling Armbruster to take her back to her office in the Arkham Mansion.

Eventually, the Joker initiates his takeover of Arkham. He has his thugs track down Young, with orders to bring her to him alive. Young was captured while carrying out her normal duties in the X-Ray Room in the Medical Facility. Armed inmates led by the Joker's henchgirl Harley Quinn invaded the Medical Facility to round up all the doctors, Young among them. Thugs dispatched to the X-Ray Facility shot the asylum security guards and found Young. They surrounded her in a locked office to interrogate her. Batman saved her, but she immediately headed to the Arkham Mansion, with guard Aaron Cash as backup. She does not tell Batman she is heading there to find her notes containing the Titan formula, which Joker seeks. Batman soon learns of her actions and tracks her down.

Penelope Young in happier days.

The Dark Knight deals with several inmates attempting to break into Young's office, finding that the Joker had captured Aaron Cash, but Young had managed to flee to her office, retrieve her notes, and then escape, pursued mercilessly by the Joker's hordes. She, finding that most of the Arkham Mansion is now under the Joker's control and that most of the security guards are dead or incapacitated, flees to the mansion library, which the Joker's thugs have not entered yet. Brushing by two asylum guards at the door, Young fled to the lower level of the library, surprising a guard named Bill along with an unidentified Arkham orderly.

The thugs on her heels, meanwhile, wasted no time in killing the two security guards at the door and storming the lower level of the library. Bill tried to defend her, but without success. He was eventually overpowered and the three were inevitably taken prisoner, but not before Young managed to hide her notes. The inmates left Bill and the orderly tied up in the library and took Dr. Young to the Joker, who is displeased that the notes are still missing. Meanwhile, Batman invaded the Arkham Mansion, defeating many of the Joker's thugs. He manages to find her notes and destroy them, and saves Young from Victor Zsasz, whom the Joker has ordered to torture the Titan Project information out of her, which he succeeded in doing before being incapacitated by Batman.

Soon afterward, however, Dr. Young is killed when she set off a bomb the Joker planted within the Warden's office safe. Batman would later see Young as part of a Scarecrow hallucination when he is affected by the villain's fear toxin upon his second trip to the Intensive Treatment Center. Dr. Penelope Young died a woman with a destroyed reputation whose research would forever change Gotham, for better or worse, and with many villains after her, including Bane, Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, the Joker, and Mr. Zsasz.

Trivia

  • Dr. Young seems to labor under Fundamental Attribution Error, which is a tendency to judge a person's behavior due to innate traits like heredity or disposition. This is implied in her attitude toward insanity, in that she would strengthen a patient's constitution with Titan to allow for stronger treatments. It is also born out in her diagnosis of Batman, attributing his behavior to complexes and heredity, while underestimating the impact his upbringing had on him.
  • Dr. Young is referenced on a nameplate at Lacey Towers in Batman: Arkham Origins.
  • In one of the Riddler interview tapes, she is mentioned to keep a photo of a woman on her desk (implied to possibly be her mother), with her outraged reaction when Riddler pointing it out implying she was protective of the woman.

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