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Batman 70
"The Parasols of Plunder"

COVER IMAGE NOT FOUND Apr-May 1952 reprinted in Batman #176 (80 Page Giant #17) December, 1965

Story: Bill Finger (?) Art: Dick Sprang (?)

The Penguin, that Birdman of Banditry, has gone straight, and his birds have flown the coop! Having grown tired of being a jail-bird, The Man of 1,000 Umbrellas has set himself up in the umbrella business, but can The Caped Crusader and The Boy Wonder believe such birdcalls, especially when they have to grab ahold of... "The Parasols of Plunder" On the splash page, The Bat-Plane is soaring through the Gotham City night sky, trying to save a falling Batman, whose descent is being slowed by one of Penguin's umbrellas, which the top-hatted terror has shone a light upon, revealing The Caped Crusader's endorsement of this handy product, while gunfire from the thugs below threaten to put a hole in the quality of the merchandise! (Holy George Foreman, Batman! He's really getting grilled here, folks!)

At Gotham Penitentiary, The Penguin is hard at work in the umbrella-making shop, when a guard brings him a message. Since he has been a model prisoner by setting an example of industry by starting his umbrella shop, the parole board has recommended his release, but on one condition... he must put his bird-themed crimes behind him, as well as giving up his pet birds, lest he be tempted to commit further crimes. Smiling, The Penguin complies. At The Penguin's Roost, both Oswald Cobblepot and his feathered charges are free as a bird, and he tells the flying forms that he will never again match wits with The Batman. On the roof of a nearby building, Batman and Robin watch as The Penguin has kept his word to the warden, and has released his birds, with The Boy Wonder wondering if he is actually going straight, and The Caped Crusader advising continued watching of this crooked bird. The Penguin's henchmen figure that their boss released the birds to keep Batman off the trail, but he insists that he is keeping his valuable birds to sell as funds for the new business he's starting...

At Stately Wayne Manor, Dick Grayson reads how The Penguin has changed from birds to umbrellas as possible crime techniques, and Millionaire Bruce Wayne thinks that this may be a legitimate attempt at establishing an honest business. At the plant, Batman and Robin pay a call on The Penguin, who shows them around, and "The Man of 1,000 Umbrellas" has become "The Man of 50,000 Umbrellas." The Caped Crusader inspects one and sees no trick compartments or hidden weapons of any kind. When Batman asks Penguin how he can afford to sell the umbrellas at ten dollars when the competitor sells theirs at five dollars, The Penguin insists that his umbrellas are superior, and conducts a demonstration... by grabbing onto Batman, and hurtling them over the side! As Robin uses the Bat-Rope to swing to his mentor's rescue, The Penguin uses his umbrella, which he hooked to his belt for emergencies, to float them safely to the ground!

Completing the demonstration, The Penguin asks for Batman's endorsement of the product, and while The Caped Crusader admits that it is the better product, he tells Penguin that he never gives endorsements, which has "The Man of 50,000 Umbrellas" taking umbrage at the rejection, and vows that he will have Batman's endorsement one way or the other! A henchman tells his boss that without the endorsement, they'll have no hope, and that they should go back to the birds, but The Penguin points out that Batman will endorse them... whether he knows it or not! The Gotham Daily reports that Penguin Umbrellas have reached the 50,000 mark, and Dick Grayson concedes that it looks like Penguin is going straight, but Bruce wonders how he'll manage to sell them, as well as the threat to get The Caped Crusader to endorse them. Further thoughts on the subject are interrupted by The Bat-Signal, and at The Penguin's Roost, its appearance has also been noticed, and The Penguin orders his men to have reporters and photographers to be present at 4th and Vine in an hour for a great story!

At Police Headquarters, Commissioner Gordon introduces The Dynamic Duo to Mr. Rink, the night watchman of The Cole Bank Building, and who has seen a helicopter lowering a masked person onto the roof of an adjacent building, but there hasn't been any signs of a robbery. (Holy Mel Gibson, Batman!) Footprints were found on the roof, and an outline of the Bat-Signal was scratched in the tar. Batman figures that someone may be trying to contact him secretly. At night, Batman and Robin watch as the helicopter is hovering near the rooftops, with a cord dangling from it! With The Boy Wonder warming up The Bat-Plane, The Caped Crusader proceeds to climb the rope, but as he closes in on the helicopter, the rope is loosened, and Batman begins to fall twenty-five stories to the street below, but Robin is heading for him in The Bat-Plane! Even as The Boy Wonder prepares to execute the life-saving manuever, the street area is too narrow for The Bat-Plane to pass, and there is no way for him to save Batman!

Just as The Caped Crusader is about to meet his fate on the street, an umbrella opens up, and acts as a parachute to break his fall! The waiting reporters and photographers have witnessed the proceedings, and take pictures, with one photographer complimenting Batman on his stunt to endorse Penguin's umbrella! Overhearing this, The Caped Crusader turns the umbrella and sees luminous letters which reads, "Batman Stakes His Life On The Quality Of Penguin's Umbrellas!" In the morning, Alfred is preparing breakfast, while Bruce is reading the Financial Journal, and sees the photograph of Batman fighting some hoods, while an umbrella has his endorsement in the advertisement. The faithful butler is appalled by Mawster Bruce's name being used by The Penguin, and this reminds Bruce of an important appointment he has in the financial district, with Dick also keen on the world of finance, as well! Leaving Wayne Manor, Dick wonders if The Penguin is up to something, and Bruce theorizes that the advertisement means that Penguin is after the rich clientele, but it's best not to take chances, so they head to Bruce's office in case The Caped Crusader is needed. The day passes without incident, and as Bruce ends his meeting with a business partner, the rain has begun to fall, and the partner gives Bruce one of the two Penguin umbrellas he had bought earlier.

On the street, many citizens have bought Penguin umbrellas, thanks to Batman's endorsement, and when the business partner asks Bruce for the time, both men see that their watches are off. Another man carrying an umbrella says his watch is off, too, while a man who can tell the time isn't carrying an umbrella! Dick wonders if the steel in the umbrella is interfering with the watches, and Bruce knows that this would be so if the steel were magnetized. Dick wonders why this would be so, while Bruce is sure The Penguin has a reason for these magnetized umbrellas in the financial district. As they change to Batman and Robin in a doorway, the umbrellas are being drawn to a stainless steel statue, with many of the owners, as well!

Arriving in a truck with a scoop, The Penguin orders the captive citizens to throw their valuables down or else he'll order his henchman to cut the power, and they'll all fall to the street below! As they comply, the valuables rain down onto The Penguin and his henchmen, who prepare to leave before the authorities arrive, but The Dynamic Duo arrive, and begin to rain their fists onto The Penguin's hoods! Penguin knocks Batman back with his umbrella, while Robin is caught in the scoop! Regaining his senses, The Caped Crusader moves a parked car directly beneath the statue, then tells the people to let go of the umbrellas, and jump for the roof of the car to break their fall!

Once they are safe, Batman borrows another car and chases after The Penguin, who opens the scoop, and dumps Robin over the side, and towards the highway, but The Caped Crusader has stopped his car, and hurls a Batarang to catch his falling chum! Robin regrets that in saving him, The Penguin has gotten away, but Batman is sure that they'll find him soon enough. In an airplane, the henchman named Rocky asks The Penguin if they're going back to birds since Batman has tumbled onto their umbrella racket, but his boss insists that they've only begun with the umbrella business! Inside the abandoned umbrella plant, The Caped Crusader is going through Penguin's files, and sees that "The Man Of 50,000 Umbrellas" made a few beach umbrellas, and figures that he must have a use for them, which he and Commissioner Gordon should be able to learn by seeing where the umbrellas were shipped to. (Holy Fed Ex, Batman!) A week passes, and at Oasis Private Beach, The Penguin and his men are setting up umbrellas on the beach so that their fellow "members" will know where to reach them, and where to set up their own umbrellas!

When a wealthy beachgoer asks where he can buy such an umbrella, The Penguin rebuffs him and tells him that they are for members only. Down the beach, two of Penguin's members set down a valise with tools, and open an umbrella, to the dismay of the regulars, who regret that their club has been invaded by riff-raff. With all the members in place on the beach, The Penguin signals that all is in readiness, and in the skies above, The Bat-Plane is hovering. It descends and begins to pass over the beach, with The Penguin has no more time to wait for more of the idle rich to arrive at the beach club, and decides to begin his plan, as well as keep The Bat-Plane from landing!

Pulling a switch, the beach umbrellas begin to open all over the beach, and start to spin... and overhead, The Caped Crusader sees that the motorized umbrellas are kicking up a dust storm so thick that they will not be able to see where they'll land without injuring the people below! With the dust storm increasing in intensity, The Penguin and his men don masks, then head for the beach club, protected by a sand umbrella to hide them from The Bat-Plane, and the guards are too blinded by the dust storm to stop them! The Bat-Plane heads for the clouds, then dumps silver iodide to cause a downpour of rain. The cloud seeding completed, the sudden downpour catches The Penguin and his men off-guard, and their dust-storm is dissipated, and the guards can see them, and have the advantage!

The Penguin boards a rowboat and uses his umbrella to catch the stiff breeze, which will have him away before a launch can be sent after him, but in the air, The Bat-Plane goes trawling, and the large net pulls up its prey, then drops the fish onto The Penguin's rowboat, where a flock of seagulls from a nearby sandbar begin to swamp his boat, and The Penguin is waving his arms in a vain attempt to beat them off! The Caped Crusader descends from The Bat-Plane Rope-Ladder, and pulls The Penguin from the seagulls, so that he can be reunited with the other jailbirds! The following day at The Warden's office, he greets The Penguin, and tells him that the umbrella shop hasn't been the same since he left. The Penguin balks at the thought of birds and umbrellas, then begs to be placed in solitary confinement so that he can bang his head against the wall until he learns that crime does not pay!

The art looks like it's by Lew Sayre Schwartz, even though I initially guessed Dick Sprang. Am I right, Bob Hughes?

The Penguin goes straight? This notion is for the birds! (Holy Hitchcock, Batman!)

Penguin does manage to pull a trick on Batman with his umbrellas, and get The Caped Crusader's endorsement.

Imagine using a stainless steel statue to steel from those in the financial district, and if The Penguin turns off the power, there'd be a lot of stains on the streets below. (Holy Malden, Batman!)

Steve Chung
"The Parasols of Review"