Batman #14 - Story 4

October 14, 1942

"Bargains in Banditry"

Here's an interesting Penguin ploy as he comes up with the idea of selling blueprints and schemes for committing master crimes at cut rate prices. He also collects a portion of whatever take the robbers gain.

It's also interesting to note that a phrase Commissioner Gordon uses in the 66 series, "man of 1,000 umbrellas", is first used here. I would never have spotted it, but to use such a specific number always struck me as odd when he said it.

The first job he creates, robbing a bank, goes without a hitch as the crooks get away with 500,000. The problem is the Penguin is waiting for the two for his cut of the proceeds - 100 percent of it. Penguin kills the two with poison darts from his umbrella and walks off with the money.

Now, I have a problem with this as it goes against the Penguin's MO so far. He has never double crossed anyone. In fact, he knew that having people do the work while he reaped reasonable rewards made sense. This is Joker's MO.

Bruce and Dick, visiting the bank, find the unconscious workers and the plans Penguin drew up for the crooks which they left behind. They make the change to Batman and Robin and use the Batplane to search the city.

Now, here is something also of note - the Batplane. It gets as much use, even sometimes more, than the Batmobile. We now have a properly named Batmobile and yet there are many instances where it is not used and Batman resorts to taking a car to pursue bad guys. But the plane is brought out for simple touring of the city. Mind you, as Robin points out, it's a good thing they did. After routing a theft in which all but one of the criminals are captured, Batman pursues the escaping thief with the plane.

He and Robin burst in on Penguin trying to kill Elmer for the money that was stolen. The three are quickly trapped in a net of chicken wire that falls from the ceiling. Penguin decides not to kill them, but runs off.

After freeing themselves, Bruce and Dick return home and while working out, Bruce comes up with the idea of opening a competing business. Dick is apprehensive about it, but he plays his part handing out flyers for the store Bruce sets up. He helps a jewel thief plan a robbery and he gets the word out about how cheap "Bad News" Brewster is.

The thing is, with each crime, the criminals are caught as Bruce tips off the police. The Penguin meanwhile sends an anonymous message to Bruce to meet him. Bruce does, as Batman, along with Robin.

The two enter the building they were directed to go to and note the giant open umbrella which they stand in the middle of for some unexplained reason. And of course, it's a trap as the umbrella closes in around them. Kind of surprised we never saw a trap like that on the 66 show.

Penguin knocks the two out with his gas. When they come to, Robin is tied up in a corner and has to watch as Penguin throws darts at a dart board placed on Batman's head. The darts have poison. But Penguin is a bad shot and keeps missing.

It gives Robin a chance to tip over an umbrella stand filled with umbrellas. Without knowing what he's doing, Robin begins firing the umbrellas from behind his back. The first is acid, the splatter hitting Batman's bonds, burning away on the ropes. The second is green paint, which blinds Penguin.

Batman gets free and captures Penguin. As the story ends, Bruce and Dick hear that Penguin is sentenced to be executed for the deaths of the two crooks. Of course, we know it doesn't happen, but will it be addressed in his next story?

Overall, I like this one, save for the change in Penguin's behavior. He may be willing to kill Batman, but I kind of liked that he broke the axiom, "There is no honor among thieves." His double-crossing and killing the two crooks puts him in the same league as Joker and even Joker is moving away from that as becomes more of a gimmick character.

We're back with Detective Comics next time. What can we expect? Stay tuned, Citizens!

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