Batman and Christmas! It’s like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a slice of pineapple in it! No, seriously, that specific combination is fantastically delicious. We’ve been taking a look back at Batman and his holiday-themed misadventures, starting things off with the BTAS episode “Christmas with the Joker.” Together we watched as Joker flew off into the night sky on a rocket-powered christmas tree, spreading joy and entertainment to all of us and simultaneously tormenting Bat-boy. Now we’re gonna continue things along with…
Quick note: apparently, to be considered an official Christmas episode, Batman, or many of Bruce Timm’s other DC cartoons, has to have a bell-ringin’, holly, jolly, charitable Santa in it. St. Nick shows up all over the DC animated universe during Christmas time.
The New Batman Adventures: “Holiday Knights” (upper left corner), Batman: The Animated Series: “Christmas With The Joker” (upper right corner), Batman Adventures: Holiday Special one-shot comic (middle right), Static Shock: “Frozen Out” (bottom right corner), Justice League: “Comfort & Joy” (bottom left corner).
But for THIS article, we’ll be focusing on the premiere episode of The New Batman Adventures: “Holiday Knights.”
Paul Dini wrote four vignettes in the Batman Adventures: Holiday Special comic, of which he and Bruce Timm adapted three of those stories for the show. The one tale that was left out involved Mr. Freeze. It was called “White Christmas”, and we’ll save that one for last. So let’s delve into the differences between the comic and episode, some commentary, a bit of reviewing, and a lot of reminiscing.
Whatever. Just happy that I can say that I wrote about Batman and Christmas. Can any of you say that?! Ha! Nope!
So, with that said, I guess we’re starting off with Harley and Ivy. This one’s a fan fave, with these self-proclaimed naughty listers kidnapping Bruce Wayne with hypnotic, mind-controlling lipstick.
I was never a big fan of makeup in the first place, and this stuff makes Bruce do whatever they want him to, like anything… and you KNOW that they end up using him in the most evil, sadistic, inappropriate and twisted ways possible… by making him a unwilling pawn in their horrifically grandiose shopping spree!
Not cool, ladies, NOT cool. These girls unknowingly hit Batman where it hurts the most: his wallet. He loves investing his money into charity, his father’s company, kickass bat-styled gadgets, and vehicles with jet engines in them. Tonight, on the other hand, he is the proud owner of a green and black striped miniskirt, and a stuffed giraffe. Poor disgustingly wealthy bastard.
It’s not until the stuff starts to wear off, and he intentionally falls down an elevator shaft to get away that he has a chance to become the spirit of Christmas vengeance and payback.
They get away from the angry, ever so slightly financially scratched Bats, and duck into a toy store.
Hey, wait! There’s a creepy clown baby on the front! Joker must be hiding there! No? Okay, but Bruce, just to reiterate! Demolish all the creepy clown-covered establishments anyway! Or else, just leave, like, two, then locating the weird and disturbed supervillains will become a lot less complicated.
After the usual fight, Batman catches Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy with a Christmas tree……Awesome.
This episode is probably my second favorite vignette as it’s just fun, charming and adorable. Well, not for Bruce. Oh, here’s a nifty sidenote that’s in the comic but not in the show. Harley’s actually Jewish, but loves Christmas trees ‘cuz they’re pretty.
Next up is “Jolly Ol’ St. Nicholas,” which happens to be Detective Harvey Bullock, and he’s playing a mall Santa…because he’s fat. Bullock and Detective Montoya (the hot elf to the left) are on a stakeout for a shoplifter.
Barbara (Batgirl) is also at the mall shopping for her dad when she catches a juvenile pickpocket out of the corner of her eye. She chases after him and traps him up against the other three pickpockets being simultaneously chased by others, but then…
CLAYFACE!!! It was Clayface the whole time! Of course! It makes perfect sense! He needed to disguise himself as four small children to steal things….wait, what? Why doesn’t he just wreck the store and take whatever he wants? He does do that? Okay, maybe he just got bored or something.
Batgirl proceeds to kick him out a window, electrocute him with some surprisingly powerful Christmas lights, and then leave the incapacitated blob to Bullock, who gets to sift through Clayface’s Play-Doh body for the stolen goods, and all is well.
All in all, this story is kind of the weakest story of all the vignettes, but I think since this was the first episode demonstrating the new look of the animation compared to the old animated series, I’m sure Timm and company just wanted to show off a bit. They had reason to show off, too, because the animation throughout the entire series continued to get better and better! Plus, Clayface looks great.
The episode ends with a bang from my favorite jolly jester, the Joker.
The Clown Prince of Crime takes over the airwaves once again, and he solemnly swears not to kill anyone for a whole year! So, that’s why today on New Years Eve, he’ll work extra hard to kill as many people he can before the clock strikes midnight. Well, you can’t say he doesn’t have fun with it! It gets better…. thanks to a stolen supersonic bomb, when the clock does indeed strike twelve, it will kill anyone within earshot.
The Joker waits at Gotham Square to watch his plans unfold, but he knows that Bats will be looking for him so naturally…
Joker masks! He dispenses them to everyone as a party favor, in an attempt to confuse Batman. But let’s take a moment here to take something into account. There’s got to be at least a couple hundred Joker masks! Who manufactured them? Does he have a wholesale deal with a dastardly plastic molding company? Did he just make them himself?! This guy is always prepared, well-connected, or just downright resourceful! This is a cakewalk for him, and something he probably threw together in a day or so.
If you want to see how big this clown can really go, check out my other article on “Christmas with the Joker”:
So Bats shows up, a fight ensues, the bell starts to rise as the crowd starts to count down to one…
Batman manages to shortcircuit the supersonic bomb and the bell explodes just when it’s about to reach the top! It comes racing down and falls right over our resourceful little clown’s head.
This is a fun story, but what really makes it memorable is what comes next…
After all is said and done, Batman and Commissioner Gordon meet at Joe’s Tavern every New Year’s Eve to bring in the New Year.
Side note: the three drunk patrons singing “Auld Lang Syne” in the tavern represent producer Bruce Timm, and series artists Glen Murakami and Shane Glines, all working on the show at the time.
Batman sits and chugs scalding coffee. He and the Commissioner wish each other well, then Bats does his whooshy Batman thing. Awesome! The holidays really are about new beginnings, hope and friendship, but I think what the holidays and Batman have the most in common are what brings me to the final tale, “White Christmas”
You might know Mr. Freeze from the live-action feature film Batman and Robin, as portrayed by Arnold Schwarzenegger…
No, Mr. Freeze is not as campy and silly as you might think. Here’s the backstory that you might not know…
As established in the series, Victor Fries was a brilliant inventor working on creating a safe way of freezing the terminally ill until a cure could be found. He tested this out first on his terminally ill wife, but before he could find a cure, the company that was funding the entire project shut it down before it was complete and in an effort to save his wife, Fries was exposed to his own chemicals, causing him to be unable to live outside a constant freezing environment.
After a series of criminal acts of vengeance, he wound up in Arkham Asylum. When Freeze unexpectedly broke out one Christmas Eve, Batman came to question the staff. The guards all reported that Freeze was acting more depressed than usual, and kept asking about the weather. Freeze breaks into a warehouse that stored all of his old lab equipment, and suddenly Gotham’s a victim of a terrible blizzard, accidents everywhere, and people turning into ice pops.
Batman tracks Freeze to the Gotham Cemetery, where Freeze is going berzerk with the snow machine. Determined to get to the bottom of what seems like an illogical crime spree, Batman intervenes.
He throws a few batarangs into the snow machine gun, it explodes, and Batman approaches a very disoriented and clearly defeated Mr. Freeze, and then says…
“It’s Christmas, so I’ll give you one chance to end this quietly. Why’d you do it? Tonight of all nights?” to which Freeze remorsefully replies, “We were married ten years ago on a snowy Christmas Eve. Nora loved the snow. I thought it…sad… that there should be no snow this year, and I wouldn’t want my Nora sad tonight.”
Guys, I haven’t cried from a comic book since I don’t know when, and I cried like a baby. Maybe when I read this as a kid it was just too much too take. It would’ve been great to see this on the show, but I get it. I’m just happy this story was told at all. Batman shows true compassion for Freeze because he understands and appreciates how much love and family matters. That’s what Christmas and Batman is all about, appreciation of what you have, and appreciation of your family. Bruce and Victor had to find that depth of appreciation from some of the most tragic events possible. It shouldn’t take a freak accident that results in tragic loss to realize what we should be grateful for in this life.
So I hope you enjoyed this, I know I did. I’m going to go watch and read some more of my favorite holiday-themed adventures and share them with my friends and family, and I hope you do the same.
Wes Calimer is a Los Angeles-based geeky writer and director who just realized that he told everyone on the internet that he cried like a baby…