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Sunday, December 10, 2006

Christmas Special: The Batman's Last Christmas!

Ever since I decided that the theme for this year's ISB Christmas Specials would be a look at the most wildly inappropriate Christmas comics ever, I feel like I may be lacking in the actual good cheer that I love so much about the season. So to remedy that, tonight, I do what I always do when in doubt.

I turn once again... to Batman.

Yes, with over sixty years of Christmas specials under his belt--including an oddly touching Mark Millar story that revolves around a toy train he got from his parents right before they died--I'm confident that the Caped Crusader can provide us with a bit of genuine holiday joy.

Or maybe not.

Yes, nothing quite says "Christmas Cheer" like going to your parents' graves and shouting that they deserved to be gunned down in a filthy alley.

Or at least that's the idea behind this "different kind of Yuletide tale" from Mike W. Barr and--who else?--Jim Aparo, who came out swinging just in time for Christmas of 1981 with...

Our story begins with the Batman leaving a gigantic bag full of toys for a bunch of orphans, stopping by Jim Gordon's office to cheer him up, and then--as you might expect--backhanding the living bejeezus out of Santa Claus:

To be fair, though, that's not actually Santa, but mobster in disguise transporting the accounting records of one of Gotham's eight thousand crime bosses around town on foot, so the fact that he's getting thrashed by Batman really shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. What does come as a surprise, however, is a conveniently labeled manilla folder that falls out of his ersatz toy sack that points to none other than Thomas Wayne as the original bankroller behind a criminal empire.

Needless to say, Batman, who has devoted his life to the idea that his parents were saints of the highest order, takes the news a little harshly. Fortunately, the Huntress of Earth-2, the daughter of that world's deceasecd Batman and Catwoman, has decided to spend the holidays with her "Uncle Bruce" on Earth-1, and after pausing to swap a bit of curious innuendo with Alfred...

...they set about clearing Thomas Wayne's name.

First up, a visit to Amos Randolph, the Waynes' old accountant, who--in a charming holiday twist--is wasting away from a neurological disorer that leaves him decrepit and pretty thoroughly depressing.

Either way, he's able to confirm that Thomas Wayne did indeed make monthly withdrawls that match up to the gangster's records, and when it a visit to "Spurs" Sanders produces a tape of Old Man Wayne agreeing to invest in the mob, Batman decides that his parents aren't worth avenging after all, and decides that his days as a crime-fighter are no more.

Of course, it's not long before he witnesses the Christmas Miracle of an old man almost being run down by a hitman, and decides that maybe the world needs Batman after all, and gets back to work clearing his family's name, which turns out to be a matter of just standing around thinking about it for thirty seconds, which he's able to accomplish despite the fact that Huntress keeps yammering on while men are trying to think.

Four panels later, he's ready to leap into action, tearing off his shirt to reveal his Batman costume underneath. Which he is still wearing, even though he threw his mask down on his parents' graves about three pages ago.

Maybe it just gets really cold in Gotham City.

As it turns out, the money was indeed given to the mob, but it was actually Amos Randolph who was doing the bankrolling, which means that he's not just a crooked accountant, but also an impressionist talented enough to fool Batman into thinking it was his own father's voice on the tape!

Thus, Batman gives him the business:

So, to review: Batman is able to solve all of his problems by yelling at a sick old man until he cries.

It's a Christmas Miracle!

More 2006 ISB Christmas Specials:
| Season's Creepings From Terror, Inc |
| The Senses-Shattering Horror of Tarot #41 (Or: Yule Be Sorry!) |


Blogger Mark Hale said...

So she just bops on over to Earth-1 to hang out for a while? And I can't even get across town to buy a goddamn Wii.

12/11/2006 1:11 AM

Blogger Ragnell said...

I'm just wondering what happened to Mortimer. I mean, I know Randolph gets sick when they lose all those millions, but I really like Don Ameche.

And I don't remember Dan Ackroyd donning the batsuit. This is the msot confusing ISB post ever.

12/11/2006 1:15 AM

Anonymous Patrick said...

I remember this story, if hazily. Aside from the already-mentioned oddities, I recall there being a somewhat uncomfortable physical embrace between the Huntress and Batman, given that he's her genetic father.

12/11/2006 3:21 AM

Blogger Sean Carter said...

hey great blog! check out for http://christmas4all.blogspot.com

12/11/2006 5:41 AM

Blogger shakasulu said...

Patrick, what ever happens on Earth 1 stays on Earth 1.

12/11/2006 8:14 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Crying aside, that old guy's pretty tough. I was expecting a Batman-shaped shadow to fall over him and then an accusatory finger followed by a heart attack.

12/11/2006 8:41 AM

Blogger SallyP said...

Just once I wish that Batman could get all happy and giddy drinking too much eggnogg.

And do the two Alfreds ever get together and compare their Christmas cookies?

12/11/2006 8:49 AM

Anonymous Brian said...

Compare Christmas cookies, have wild cathartic drunken rants with the only other person in the multiverse who truly understands the stress they're under...god, the more I think about this, the more I want to see a story about the Earth-1 and Earth-2 Alfreds hanging out in a bar. Written by Garth Ennis, preferably.

12/11/2006 9:54 AM

Blogger Simeon Bankoff said...

Don't get me wrong; I love Jim Aparo's Batman but did he spend the entire '70s and '80s backhanding the Gotham underworld? Given the evidence, it's amazing he didn't name his super-team "the Backhanders" rather than "the Outsiders".

Sallyp - I vaguely recall a Neal Adams(?) story were Commissioner Gordon convinces Batman to hang around the station house and sing with the Gotham PD rather than fight crime on Christmas.

12/11/2006 10:09 AM

Anonymous Justin Garrett Blum said...

The only thing this story seems to be missing is a scene with Batman punting a midget dressed as an elf. That would have taken Batman's Last Christmas to the next level. Missed opportunity, Barr and Aparo!

12/11/2006 11:12 AM

Blogger Aaron said...

What the hell's with the Batman-Hitler look going on in the next to last panel, there? That's an... ODD shadow, to say the least..

12/11/2006 11:25 AM

Blogger Kevin said...

Chris, you have an uncanny ability (the sum totality of your psychic powers perhaps?)which enables you to read a story and filter out from it the lesson we are meant to learn. So thank you for dropping the knowledge about making crippled old men cry and the good that can come from it.

12/11/2006 12:06 PM

Anonymous MW said...

I almost read out the quote on that cover in a Sam Jackson voice at work. Luckily, I managed to hold it until I got in my car to go to lunch. But it's going to be hard to keep it from emerging again.

Also, I have serious doubts that the fourth comment up there is really from Sean Carter, unless Jay-Z has decided he can earn a few extra bucks from promoting Christmas blogs.

You never know, that new album is pretty not great.

12/11/2006 12:55 PM

Blogger Rob Rogers said...

It's funny, but I always liked that issue. Everything you say poking fun at it is completely legit, but I remember digging that issue in my youth. And I liked Earth-2 Huntress much more than the current version.

12/11/2006 1:01 PM

Blogger Jeff Rients said...

Earth-2 Huntress address Earth-1 Batman as "uncle", eh? I guess treating parallel universe twins as 'brothers' is as sensible a protocol as your going to find. But if Earth-1 Bruce Wayne had a brother, would that man be Huntress's uncle as well? Would it matter whether or not Earth-2 Bruce Wayne had a brother?

12/11/2006 1:52 PM

Anonymous Jack R. said...

Man, even when Aparo drew Batman just casually backhanding someone, it looks like Bats killed the guy...I mean, KABLAMM dead. Amazing.

12/11/2006 3:01 PM

Blogger MD said...

Like mw, I too heard Sam Jackson's voice when I saw that cover. Is it wrong if I personally add, "...and I hope they burn in Hell!" when I quietly recite it to myself? I mean, am I violating any kind of copyright protection there?

12/11/2006 3:20 PM

Blogger J said...

This post just brought home some of the essential weirdness about Earth-1/Earth-2. I mean, I love my parents and all, but under no circumstances would I go visit a parallel earth for Christmas and hang out with an alternate, 30-years-younger version of Mom and Dad.

Especially if the my-universe version of Dad were dead. Creeeeee-py!

12/12/2006 12:58 AM

Blogger Richelle said...

I don't think that's his official costume under there when he rips his shirt off. I'm pretty sure he's wearing Underoos.

12/12/2006 3:36 AM

Anonymous Verbatim said...

I vaguely recall a Neal Adams(?) story were Commissioner Gordon convinces Batman to hang around the station house and sing with the Gotham PD rather than fight crime on Christmas.

"Silent Night of the Batman" from Batman #219


12/14/2006 9:36 AM

Blogger tomthedog said...

YES, I'm glad Thomas and Martha Wayne died, and I hope they burn in HELL!!!

12/14/2006 9:54 PM

Anonymous casketsalesman said...

haha, he slapped santa!

12/16/2010 10:46 AM


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