Wednesday, December 25, 2013

"Wanted: Santa Claus -- Dead or Alive" AKA The Time Batman Saved Christmas

"Wanted: Santa Claus -- Dead or Alive" is a short Batman comic originally printed in 1980 inside "The Super-Star Holiday Special (DC Special Series #21)", but can be more easily read in the Batman graphic novel "The Greatest Stories Ever Told #1" from 2005. The story was written by Denny O'Neil and drawn by comic legend and incontinent curmudgeon Frank Miller.

This tale follows the Dark Knight through Gotham, just before Christmas, looking for the answer to a mysterious boat along Gotham's pier. For whatever reason this question is ignored after the first 2 pages, but that's alright because the Caped Crusader ends up at a rundown shopping mall, where their Santa is not who he seems. The Bat then decides to beat the hell of out everyone!

Prior to the rumble at the mall, The Batman crashes the Christmas party of old time mobster Matty Lasko inquiring about the boat, with his fists. Mr. Lasko informs Batman that the boat was placed their as a favor to his old cellmate and supposedly reformed friend, Boomer Katz. The Bat obviously knows what every criminal has done and where they reside. So Batman heads to the mall! He suspects Boomer is faking his rehabilitation and took the job as the jolly fat man to rip off the mall AND RUIN CHRISTMAS!

Before Batman's arrival we see Boomer Katz, dressed in full Santa costume, interacting with kids and employees. Boomer is a genuinely nice old man trying to do something good in his old age to make up for all of the bad he has done in his life. It seems Boomer can't shake his past. Once the mall closes a few gangsters show up and want Boomer to finish the deal that they struck; to sneak them into the mall and rob it clean (I guess the boat was for their get away?). Boomer can't bring himself to betray the nice people that hired him so the sleazy mobsters force their way inside and shoot Boomer, leaving him for dead.

Just in time to hear the gun shots The Batman arrives and does a sweet tuck and roll through the display window, crashing the heist in progress. Without asking a question the Greatest Detective On Earth starts beating the hell out of the mobsters, dispensing Christmas justice!

The Bat clumsily realizes Boomer is a victim and has been taken hostage outside the mall by the leader of the gang (Fats). With Boomer at gunpoint Fats waits for our hero behind the mall's nativity scene. The same nativity scene Batman saw at the beginning of our story missing the Star of Bethlehem. A minor crime that Batman deemed unworthy of his time (maybe he called Nightwing to look into it?), BUT MIRACULOUSLY THE STAR IS BACK and shines on the hiding men! Batman flies through the air and plants his fist festively on Fat's face (say that 5 times fast!), knocking him out. The Caped Crusader consoles Boomer, who is very confused. How did the star return to the nativity scene? Batman was a CHRISTMAS MIRACLE! And as quickly as the star arrived, it vanishes (hopefully to help Aquaman).

I never realized that Jesus was part of the Super-Friends. Does that mean Jesus and Batman will fight Judas and Brainiac next issue?!?

The End

P.S. Frank Miller KILLS

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