Batman And Plastic Man Save Christmas From The Mob
The countdown to Christmas continues in this edition of Extremely Uncanny with a thrilling tale of how Batman and Plastic Man saved Christmas…from a bunch of cigarette smugglers. ‘Tis the Season, after all.
The Brave and The Bold #148
The Night the Mob Stole XMAS!
Written by Bob Haney
Art by Joe Staton and Jim Aparo
Colors by Jerry Serpe
This is a wild one folks. It’s a Bob Haney joint.
Okay the synopsis is simple enough. Batman is working his tail off trying to catch these gangs of cigarette smugglers that are just running wild through Gotham and the gang-on-gang violence is escalating.
Batman goes to Gotham city to shakedown his usual sources for any leads but gets nothing. He runs into Plastic Man, who is currently swearing off the heroic life in favor of a that of the Santa Bell Ringer.
Plastic Man goes on how he feels unwanted and like a monster. That he is all alone and In spite of seeing Plas all depressed, Batman goes “Sorry. Sucks bro. Well, I’m going to head” and just goes around driving the same 3 blocks for clues.
When Batman returns, he sees the big department store Holiday display has vanished and tire tracks from the scene. The Mayor of Gotham arrives on the scene and is so distraught over the display’s robbery, he declares a state of emergency.
Batman knowing that Gotham PD will not be able to figure this out finds a random number and business name in the snow. Batman figures this must be Plastic Man’s clue and proceeds to take out of the Batmobile’s trunk a folding portable Helicopter- The Whirly-Bat. Flies down the interstate because that was what the number was and finds the moving trucks hauling the stolen goods, Plastic Man, and just loose tobacco!
Plastic Man gives the most ridiculous explanation of how he was able to leave the clue as he explains they are going to Florida for some dying Mob Boss’s final Christmas bash. The crime fighting duo breaks off to Florida.
I just want to mention I love Staton and Aparo’s art in this issue. It is very much house style, but there are some cool things the do with Plastic Man and the energy of certain panels “clicks” in a way that makes me happy. The snow effect alone is neat!
Much to the surprise of all of the crime party attendees, the Mob Boss isn’t dying, captures the Cape Crusader and forces Plas to continue to play Santa for the event. This is all a complicated ploy by the Mob Boss to kill the Rival gangs. There can only be one Cigarette smuggling operation.
Well, Batman and Plastic Man get free and overtake the Mob in short order thanks to Plastic Man and fake snow shenanigans. But instead of just taking them to jail, Batman and Plastic Man force the Mob to load the truck back up with the Christmas Display and drive it all the way back to Gotham in time for Christmas. Just like that Christmas was saved.
The story itself is definitely a Pre-Crisis Batman story with all of the trademark jump to conclusions and random bat-tech, like the Whirly-Bat. It lends itself a certain level of charm for the story. The weirdest part of this though was the repeated use of the term “Buttlegging” for cigarette smuggling. Apparently, that is the name for the crime but according to my buddy, who worked for years in tax enforcement, no one ever calls it that. For the best. Reading “Buttlegging” in the Adam West, Kevin Conroy, or even Diedrich Bader Batman voice is infinitely funny. Haney’s writing has that simple charm to it though that it feels very earnest.
It is very much a comic book feeling comic book and I love that about it. Yet, how does this stack up as a Christmas comic? That is a bit mixed. Sure, it takes place at Christmas and involves Santa but the plot itself is just a small time smuggling gang story. Not much Christmas cheer to be found. It is a Christmas comic much like Die Hard is a Christmas movie. Christmas is a plot device but not central to the main story. It wouldn\’t be my first pick for a Christmas Batman comic, but as a fun comic with Batman and Plastic Man? Yeah, I would give it a read through again.
I would give this comic 8 Whirly-bats flying down the freeway out of 10.