It\’s An Extremely Uncanny Holiday Special #2: Jingle Bells, Batman Smells
There is one holy jolly individual in the DC Universe and that man is Batman. He is the epitome of the Christmas Spirit and holiday cheer, after all. No one can brood up a Christmas like Batman. Jokes aside Batman has an understandably challenging experience with Christmas and the Holidays. While being an orphan is not unusual in superhero circles, Batman is the notable one without any semblance of family outside of the Robins and Alfred. He is very much the superhero married to the job. That all said, DC is not going to not put their marquee hero in a holiday story and there have been several over the years. This is the Extremely Uncanny Holiday Special #2: Jingle Bells, Batman Smells. Here we will take a look at a sampling of Batman centric holiday tales. We will be looking at two issues DC Special Series #21 and Batman: The Brave and The Bold #12. In addition to that, we will look at a short found in Batman #219.
DC Special Series #21
“Wanted: Santa Clause- Dead or Alive!”
Writer: Denny O’Neil
Artist: Frank Miller and Steve Mitchell
Letterer: Ben Oda
Colorist: Glenn Whitmore
It is Christmas Eve and Gotham has gone to the pits. Someone even stole Nativity Scene’s Star!
Batman drops into a seedy Gotham Gentleman’s club to confront local criminal element Lasko about a boat in Gotham Harbor. Lasko gives Batman a gut check of a response but he forgets Batman has abs of steel.
After no-selling the punch, Batman learns that the boat was a favor for another criminal named Boomer Kantz. Batman begins to seek out Boomer at the local homeless shelter in Crime Alley. It is here we learned that Boomer began working as a Mall Santa and Batman suspects that Boomer was working the Santa gig was to rip off the store. We will soon learn that Boomer has began to enjoy working as Santa. It has given meaning to his life.
Unfortunately, Batman’s suspicions are somewhat confirmed as Boomer meets up with Fats Morgan, a member of the Gotham Organized Crime Syndicate.
You know he is a crime syndicate member because of cigarette holder. Fats is demanding Boomer help them get into the mall to rob the place. Boomer does not want to do this, but he is coerced at gunpoint.
Boomer tries to fight back against the crooks but is shot up and is taken prisoner. The gunshots are what leads Batman to the mall. It is not clear if Batman is already heading to the mall to further investigate Boomer or if Batman just happened to be the area.
Either way Batman quickly dispatches the criminals and begins the hunt for Boomer. We discover Boomer is being kept at the Nativity scene and through some sort of divine intervention a blinding beam pierces through the hole where the star was located. This piercing light allows Batman to get the drop on Boomer’s captors.
Denny O’Neil writes a great Batman and is a reliable story. While this Batman story isn’t the best one of the bunch it is still a serviceable tale and you will come away from it feeling okay. How he writes Boomer was a nice touch as you begin to feel for the man as he is browbeat into the crime.
The most notable thing about this story is that this is the first Batman story Frank Miller would draw for DC comics. That is historical but ultimately it is a generic Batman story that happens to take place at Christmas.
Christmas isn’t as essential to the overall story here, but it does provide some elements namely in the Star of Bethlehem/Nativity playing a deus ex Machina of sorts. It also brings out some interesting backgrounds and snow effects. Christmas may not be key to the actual story of a man being forced to commit a crime, but it does make for an interesting setting.
Also, it is nice to see Batman do some Detective work. I know he is the World’s Greatest Detective and all, but I tend to find more comics about him doing more super heroics than pure detective work. I am not the most avid Batman reader though. He could be more of a detective in his comics for all I know. That said his other media presentations often overlook those aspects for the BAM! POW! elements. The moments where Batman shakes down leads and goes undercover are great but they are undercut by the confusing moment of whether Batman was just walking by the Mall or was in transit to mall to investigate. I want to believe the latter because the former just makes for an incompetent Batman and we are not getting that here.
This was an okay story but considering it was part of a larger holiday anthology, you cannot fault it too much. I always appreciate when Batman does more detective work and goes up against organized crime. That’s always welcomed. Setting at Christmas, while not festive, does provide nice set dressing which is what I like about a lot of Christmas stories.
Continue reading for a complete change of pace let’s look at Batman: The Brave and the Bold #12