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Batman Sunday Newspaper Strip
"The Man of 1,000 Umbrellas"


Story: Alvin Schwartz (?) Art: Dick Sprang (?)

(Originally Reviewed On 11/2/01)

It's a sunny afternoon in Gotham City, and The Dynamic Duo are shadowing a character who's heading for the post office, with The Boy Wonder wondering why they haven't grabbed their quarry, and The Caped Crusader assuring his young partner that he wants to find out what this character has got up his sleeve. At the doorway to the post office, the object of their search pauses before entering, looking both ways of the street, and The Penguin, confident that he has not been followed, prepares to embark on his task, one which he dare not have had his gang enact. The startled postal worker can only stare at The Penguin, who has come to pick up a post card, oblivious to the wanted poster which hangs just inside of the postal worker's counter. Tear gas from the umbrella blinds the hapless worker, while The Birdman of Banditry leaps over the counter, and weeps at the poor lack of service, searching for the post car, while his tear-gas umbrella keeps the other workers at bay! The postal workers have tears in their eyes, but not as much as The Penguin, who is not making any money for this act, and as he turns to leave, he is tackled by Batman, while Robin relieves him of his umbrella! Reading the post card, The Caped Crusader wonders aloud why The Penguin would steal a card addressed to Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot, while The :Penguin is anguished and wishes to be arrested than to answer that very question.

Batman finds the name to be quite a mouthful, while The Penguin is determined to maintain his silence, and uses a minature umbrella to retrieve the card from The Caped Crusader's grasp, but as he flees down the street, The Penguin is brought down by his own umbrella, thrown by Robin! Batman uses the small umbrella to open the card, to The Penguin's dismay, and sees that it is a birthday card for Oswald Cobblepot, who is having much success in the umbrella business. The Caped Crusader turns and faces The Penguin, who admits to being Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot, who has been dreading the visit from his Aunt Miranda, she who took care of him and raised him when his mother died, who will no doubt die from the shame of his criminal career. It has been ten years since he last saw her, and now, Aunt Miranda will be arriving on the afternoon train! (Holy High Noon, Batman!) Knowing that by that time, he will be in jail, The Penguin gets down on his hands and knees, begging that The Dynamic Duo not tell the poor woman about him being a criminal. At noon, an elderly woman uses her umbrella to halt a young man who seeks to get off the train before her, stepping off the train to greet her nephew, Oswald, who introduces her to his dear friends, Batman and Robin!

Robin sees that Aunt Miranda is a dear old lady, and Batman suggests that they give them a ride in the Batmobile, best to see that Penguin doesn't try anything or gets away! The Penguin tells Batman that his aunt wishes to see the city from an open bus, and The Caped Crusader warns him not to try and escape. From the top of a double-decker bus, Aunt Miranda tells her nephew how impressed she is with his friends, while The Penguin admires her umbrella, and Batman tells Robin to watch closely. While two passengers look over in their direction, calling out to Batman, Robin, and The Penguin, Aunt Miranda wonders why they would call her a penguin, but her nephew tells her that they are ignorant and should be ignored. Robin is in disbelief, while Batman is amused that Penguin's aunt isn't aware that her nephew is the most notorious crook in town! The Penguin makes a break for it by using the umbrella and jumping from the bus, to the dismay of his aunt, who thinks that her nephew is showing off! Landing in heavy traffic, The Penguin regrets his actions, particularly when The Caped Crusader lassos him from the top of a car! Aunt Miranda chastizes her nephew, while Batman tells him if not for his aunt, he'd be in jail! In Gotham, an underling tells his boss that The Penguin has been seen in the company of Batman, and has turned stool pigeon!

Aunt Miranda wants her nephew to show her his umbrella shop, but The Penguin wonders how he can do it without The Dynamic Duo learning of his hideout! He tells her that the place burned down, but The Caped Crusader reproaches him for telling a fib to his dear aunt, and he tells his aunt that it's not a good idea for Batman to see where it is. She pokes him with her umbrella and demands that they go to his shop! Arriving at an Ice-Coal shop, Aunt Miranda asks about the sign, and The Penguin tells her that it's just camouflage because business has been so good, that he's had to turn back the mob! Inside, Aunt Miranda admires the collection of umbrellas, and notices the lack of customers, knowing that her nephew never had a head for business. Determined to bring in business and start a sale by selling the old stock, Aunt Miranda reaches for an umbrella, to The Penguin's dismay, when upon opening the umbrella, it fires bullets into the ceiling, while The Penguin begs her to close it while indoors! (Holy Bumbershoot, Batman!) Aunt Miranda begins to wonder what sort of business her nephew is running, and he tells her that it's a new secret weapon he's working on for the army! In Gotham, Stonehead listens to his underling, who tells about seeing The Penguin being seen in broad daylight with The Batman, and who must have turned stool pigeon! Stonehead regrets that his old friend has turned against him, and reaches for his gun, while staring at a photograph of himself and his former cellmate, The Penguin! Stonehead calls for his gang, while the gun blasts the framed photograph to smittereens!

Stonehead and his gang head for The Penguin's hideout, and upon arriving, see what they take to be The Penguin, dressed in a skirt, and nailing a sale sign on the store! Hearing herself referred to as a penguin, Aunt Miranda jumps from the ladder, and smacks Stonehead on his noggin, while the gang prepare to attack "The Penguin." The Penguin and The Dynamic Duo emerge from the shop, seeing his old friends attacking his aunt, and the gang seeing two Penguins, as well as Batman and Robin in their midst, a few decide to exercise the better part of valor, but all are caught, whether it is from The Penguin's net umbrella, a hook umbrella and water umbrella in the hands of Batman and Robin, who are grateful that they're not on the receiving end, as well as Aunt Miranda, who uses the umbrella in the old fashioned manner, giving Stonehead a pointy-head, instead! With the gang tied-up, Aunt Miranda sees that it's time for her to leave and catch her train. Asking her nephew to step forward, she kisses him and tells him to behave himself, eat his vegetables, and help his friends take the hoodlums to the police, while The Caped Crusader assures him that her nephew will be coming along, too! When she has left, The Penguin wonders if Batman will really take him to jail, and The Caped Crusader wonders, too, if The Penguin has decided to become honest, but The Penguin reassures him that there are ways to escape from prison which he hasn't tried yet, and The Caped Crusader is certain that he'll have his chance to try them all!

An enjoyable read, as Batman and Robin meet a different sort of adventure at the post office, and The Penguin's real name is discovered!

Aunt Miranda speaks softly and swings a mean umbrella.

Nice to see that The Penguin doesn't want to hurt his aunt by having her find out that he's a criminal, and is determined for her to have a nice time in Gotham.

The art is lively, as we can see at a glance what the character's natures are like by their posture and appearance, The Penguin retaining a curious air of dignity and elegance, while Batman is every bit the detective and conscience for Oswald Cobblepot.

Steve Chung
"The Man of 1,000 Reviews"