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Detective Comics #58

October 24, 1941

(One of the Most Perfect Frame-Ups)

And now we come to another familiar element of the Batman universe - The Penguin. It's interesting how they describe him on the splash page - the umbrella man. "The jovial face of the Penguin seems to radiate good will towards all men..." It's not exactly how I've ever seen him portrayed, so it will be interesting to see how it all plays out in this first story.

The story opens with Bruce chiding Dick as they visit an art museum and Dick laughs at some of the more popular pieces on display, going so far to suggest that one artist, who is right there in front of them, should take more art lessons. He also laughs at another visitor to the art museum because he looks like a penguin.

Suddenly, the museum is placed on lockdown as it's discovered that two paintings have been stolen. Everyone is searched by the police, but no one, not even the Penguin, seems to have the works of art.

Penguin goes to one of the heads of racketeering in Gotham and offers him the paintings that he kept in the handle of his umbrella. Soon, he is leading a crime spree for the racketeers. He steals the Columbia Diamond from an auction house that Bruce is visiting.

The boss decides to teach Penguin a lesson when he thinks the Penguin is getting too big for his britches. But Penguin kills him with gas that comes from his umbrella. He takes over the gang with no objections. In fact, the men are satisfied that Penguin is in charge; they get a little loose with their talk and are overheard by Batman in disguise as they drink in a waterfront dive.

That night, Batman interrupts a robbery, but finds himself knocked out by Penguin's umbrella gas. He and his men leave with an idol statue. When Batman comes to, he is discovered by the police. He is dazed and confused as they take him to the home of the owner of the idol - Mr. Boniface - who it turns out is the Penguin.

He accuses Batman of threatening to extort him. Batman doesn't have a chance to object as he's still affected by the gas and can't think. Batman is led away in a police van that is run off the road by Penguin's men who capture Batman. Back at Penguin's home, he explains how he is getting insurance money for his "stolen" idol while confirming Batman's guilt as he's now gone missing.

Batman uses his radio in his boots to Morse code a message to Robin. Robin arrives at Penguin's home and manages to free Batman. The two have to escape though when Penguin calls the police. They disguise themselves as a blind man and paper boy and hang outside Penguin's mansion to see if they can discover his next scheme.

And it's not long before they find Penguin has rented a lecture hall for a speech on human psychology, but in reality they are digging a path from the hall to the diamond exchange. Batman and Robin jump in and stop the robbery. Penguin runs off with Batman in pursuit. He manages to get away when a train almost runs over him and Batman.

This one reads so much like an episode of Batman 66 right down to Gordon getting upset for trusting Batman and then apologizing the ever suspecting, but not suspecting Batman of turning bad. What's next for the Caped Crusader? Stay tuned, Citizens!

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