World's Finest #55: "The Bird Sayings Crimes!"

World's Finest #55
"The Bird Sayings Crimes!"
December -January, 1951-52

Script: Bill Woolfolk
Art: Lew Sayre Schwartz
Inks: Charles Paris

The Penguin has learned well from the birds and used this knowledge to
hatch many a criminal scheme.  When the Birdman of Banditry decides to
let the Dynamic Duo in on his next crime plans, he is just asking for
trouble.  For the most unusual Penguin story of all, listen to... "The
Bird Sayings Crimes!"  On the splash page, the Penguin is being
congratulated on his successful bird saying crimes, and the featured
feast is four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie.  The gathered hoods
are startled to see Batman and Robin leaping out of the pie, and eager to
give Pengy his just desserts.

In his Aviary, the Penguin is celebrating his birthday by reading the
many tributes from the creme of the underworld.  Seeing himself as the
maestro of crime, he is eager to savor their missives.  Snakey Sid
regards his methods as dead as the dodo, Larceny Lou is sure that he will
soon be eating crow, and Brute Billings figures that the birthday boy
will be a jailbird soon enough.  (Holy Alliteration, Batman!)  Angered
over being mocked for his methods by bird sayings, the Penguin decides to
use them to hatch the most unforgettable crimes imaginable.  Days pass,
with the Birdman of Banditry calling a meeting, and telling the assembled
hoods that he will send his plans to the Dynamic Duo before using them.
The Caped Crusader and the Boy Wonder meet with Commissioner Gordon at
his office, and read the letter from the Penguin.

At stately Wayne Manor, Bruce and Dick go over the drawings contained in
the letter, and work to decipher their meaning.  The four drawings are
bird proverbs, with the first referring to a bird in the hand being worth
two in the bush.  The millionaire playboy deciphers the second and third
one which mean birds of a feather flock together, and the early bird gets
the worm.  The fourth illustration shows the Dynamic Duo standing on a
scale, with the needle pointing at 14 lbs.  Now in the Bat-Cave, Batman
wonders if "a bird in the hand" refers to Sir James Hand, the British
jurist of the 17th Century, while Robin reads about the Hand, a term
which describes the Bay of Bunting in Liberia.  All through the night,
the Dynamic Duo read about the Hand Of Destiny... a statue by Vernier in
Paris, but it is the Caped Crusader who finds the solution in the
horizontal markings on the drawn hand.

The following morning finds the Penguin perched atop the hand of the
Statue of Liberty.  A trained homing pigeon flies from the incoming ship
and lands in his outstretched hand with $100,000 in gems.  This is the
first crime -- A Bird In The Hand.  Batman had noticed that the
horizontal markings referred to the sections used in the construction of
the statue.  Both he and Robin use their lariats to climb up the side of
the statue.  As the Dynamic Duo make their way up, the Penguin uses his
umbrella to head down.  As the Boy Wonder cuts the slack of his cord, the
Caped Crusader manages to kick the sack of gems into his partner's hand.

SPLASH!  The birdman of banditry dives into the water and uses a special
umbrella attachment to breathe underwater.  Back at his Aviary, the
Penguin smiles at his Lazuli Bunting Bird. Although the Dynamic Duo have
ruined his first plan, the second one will no doubt succeed.  In the
Bat-Cave, Robin wonders what "Birds of A Feather Flock Together" means.
Batman is certain that a book on America's Families will be of some help.
They must get in touch with a human bird... Jonathan Byrd -- the
descendant of Ezekiel Byrd, the revolutionary war hero.  Days pass, and
in the Carlton Caverns, Byrd is speaking to the members of his family.
They have gathered, clad in the uniform of their illustrious ancestor,
and stand in the very spot where Ezekiel fought his battle against the

Each year, a member of the Byrd family is singled out for their
accomplishments, and Miss Ellen Byrd has been chosen.  As the actress is
presented with her gifts, there is another who seeks to feather his nest
with the jewelry.  Before he can reach the treasure, the Penguin learns
that a Robin and a Bat have decided to stand guard in the underground
cave.  The top-hatted terror decides to make a break for it, with the Boy
Wonder in pursuit, but a shrieking cry for help catches his attention.
The Caped Crusader knows that this is another of the Penguin's tricks.
By the time they reach the mouth of the cave, the entrance has been
hot-wired by the Penguin's umbrella.

As they cut their way through the wire, Robin asks Batman how he knew
that it wasn't a genuine cry for help.  When the Boy Wonder follows the
voice, he soon returns with a caged bird, which the Caped Crusader
identifies as the Lazuli Bunting Bird.  Back at the Bat-Cave, Robin
deciphers the next puzzle as "The Early Bird Gets The Worm," while Batman
puzzles out the picture of them on a scale.  As the Dynamic Duo continue
to search for the answer, the Penguin is digging his way towards a big
inch pipe line.  By the morning, the "early bird" uses a pickaxe to make
a few holes in the "worm."

The damaged pipeline sends columns of oil towards a building, where two
guards are carrying a $50,000 cash payroll.  As the startled men find
their eyes blinded by the oil, the Penguin is protected by his trusty
umbrella.  After binding the guards, the top-hatted terror disposes of
the money, and leaves a feather as a clue for Batman in reference of his
fourth crime.  Batman and Robin has figured out that a big inch pipeline
is often referred to as a big worm.  The oily bird has gotten the worm
and uses an acetylene torch umbrella to ignite the oil column.

A foul play from the brassy bird, as the Dynamic Duo must prevent the
flames from reaching the houses.  The Boy Wonder phones the main office
to shut off the feed valve, then aids his partner with the water hoses.
Robin knows that the only way to fight an oil fire is with fire foam, but
Batman knows that oil floats on water, and this way, the flames can be
brought down.  After stopping the fire, they find the feather from a
King-Fisher Bird.  The faint scent of fish means the Penguin stuffed the
cash into some fresh fish, which were fed to the flock of Kingfishers.
The two crime fighters head for a motorboat, where the Caped Crusader
searches for Kingfisher nests, which are hollowed out in river banks.
The cagey bird didn't want his birds to fly away with the money.

The Kingfisher nests are empty, but the Boy Wonder finds a fresh
footprint, and sees that it's just Pengy's size.  As they follow the
footprints, a bird call is heard coming from inside a house, and Batman
knows that they've just walked into a trap.  When Robin asks how a bird
call could be dangerous, the Caped Crusader identifies it as a stonebird,
and knows that this is the answer to the fourth puzzle.  The needle on
the scale is pointing to fourteen pounds, the unit of weight used by the
word stone.  They are the two birds to be killed with one stone.  The
Penguin gets the drop on them and holds a gun on them.  After Robin ties
up Batman, the cagey crook ties him, and leads them into the garage.

The Caped Crusader knows that both he and Robin are the two bird, then
asks about the stone.  The Penguin smiles and tells them that the
stonebird will head out for breakfast at dawn.  The bird will pass by an
electric eye, causing the dynamite to go off.  The Birdman of Banditry
decides to hit the sack, with the upcoming explosion to be his wake-up
call.  Although they could sever their bonds against the rough stone
wall, this would take too long.  Batman twists his utility belt so that
Robin can reach it, and pull the marble from its compartment.  The Boy
Wonder also grabs for the paints used for quick disguises, too.  The
stonebird is a she and the Caped Crusader is counting on the fact that
the stonebird won't leave her nest until the egg is hatched.  With his
hands bound behind him, Batman begins to paint the marble to resemble an

Minutes pass, with the Caped Crusader taking aim with the marble towards
the nest.  Bull's-eye!  Now they are free to rub the ropes against the
stone wall.  The Penguin wakes up to the sound of the stonebird now
outside his window.  After wondering how he could have slept through the
explosion, the wily bird decides to take a look.  AWWWK!  The pudgy
Penguin is seized by the arms of Batman, who is being held upside-down by
Robin on the roof of the house.  Now back in his jail cell, the Penguin
sees two workmen painting the walls.  The Warden had authorized this
task, but it was the Dynamic Duo's idea to provide a suitable end to the
bird sayings crimes.  Now, he is only a bird in a gilded cage.  Robin
smiles and asks if they need to draw him a picture, too.

This story was reprinted in DC Special #14 (September - October, 1971).

On an episode of the 1960's Batman TV series, it was Alfred who was about
to be baked in a pie.

I like the look of these 1950's Batman stories with the scroll-like
introduction of the story title and the distinctive appearance of the

It was a pleasure meeting Lew Sayre Schwartz at San Diego Comic-Con a
couple of years ago.

The artist was kind enough to sign an 80 Page Giant for me which
reprinted the Caped Crusader's origin from Batman #47.

Mr. Schwartz was also delighted to learn that folks on SAR were aware of
his work on the character, and still enjoying it after all these years.

Speaking of drawings, it was a thrill to get a signed drawing from him,
as well as learning that it had been a long time since he had done a
drawing of Batman.

I'm assuming that the Dynamic Duo took the Batplane to New York City, and
that the Statue of Liberty is not located in Gotham City.  (Holy Joel
Schumacher, Batman!)

It's good to see that the Penguin actually got some use from his trick
umbrellas in this story.

We learn that the Penguin's bird call is "AWWWK!" when he is caught by
the Caped Crusader, who has a "KEW!  KEW!  KEW!" head on his shoulders.

Steve Chung
"The Bird Sayings Review!"