Sunday, October 22, 2006

Man, I hate it when celebrities do Cialis ads.

You would think he'd be happier in the 'after' photos...

Oh. Oh.

If I made Huntress cry, I may have gone too far with that last crack.
From The Brave and the Bold #184, "The Batman's Last Christmas!" Written by Mike W. Barr, art by Jim Aparo.

For a time, maybe about five or ten years pre-Crisis, DC characters got to be pretty blase about Earth 1, 2, X, or Pistachio. In this issue, Helena Wayne, the Huntress of Earth-2, is still mourning the death of her father, the Earth-2 Batman. She decides to spend Christmas with her 'uncle,' Earth-1 Batman. The different Earths seem dated but charming now, but aside from the different super-heroes and ages, it was never differentiated that much: both Earths suffered through McCarthyism, the energy crisis of the 1970's, and probably boy bands as well.

I do kind of miss the Huntress that was Batman and Catwoman's daughter, as opposed to the hardass mafia don's daughter in the current DC Universe. As other bloggers have pointed out, she's a bit of a square peg now, being forced into a round hole. Hopefully, she'll be able to pick up a full-time spot on the new Justice Society or Birds of Prey rosters. And there is a lot gained by the 'legacies' of heroes all living on the same world, so the Huntress may have been a necessary sacrifice.

Helena is welcomed for the holidays, but Batman is distracted by the discovery of evidence that his father may have loaned money to back a gangster's rise to power. Helena encourages Batman to investigate further and find the truth, and he does. They go to visit Amos Randolph, Thomas Wayne's accountant, who despite being old, frail, and wheelchair bound, still has records from 25 years ago in his living room. The next time I see my accountant, I'm throwing this issue in his face and asking why he isn't more hands-on like that. The records show monthly withdrawals of ten thousand dollars on dates that match the alleged payoffs. Hmm. This issue was 1982, so the payoffs would have been in 1957 dollars, which probably would've been enough to fund a military coup.

Batman and Huntress then visit mob boss and cowboy fetishist "Spurs" Sanders, who has audiotape evidence of Thomas Wayne's payoffs, let also declares that the tape isn't legal evidence. Huh? Believing that his father wasn't a good man worth avenging, Batman unmasks and renounces his mission. Um, wasn't your mom killed too, Bruce? Oh, women don't need avenging. Bruce hits the town and mopes a good deal.

Meanwhile, the mob tries to take out the thug that lost the records in the first place, and the Huntress saves him and his son. Upon seeing that, Bruce realizes that Batman "existed for more reasons than fighting crime...he exists to spare others the loss I felt when my parents died." Batman also recalls more details of his last Christmas with his parents, and goes back into action; while Helena cries with joy at helping her 'uncle' and making peace with her father's death. Pretty touching, really.

Oh, and Randolph disguised himself as Wayne, and used Wayne's money to get rich backing the mob. Although he was given away by a habit of 'nervous tapping,' he was apparently good enough at disguising his voice as to fool Batman, which has to be embarrassing for him. Batman doesn't even bother taking Randolph in, as his guilt is punishment enough. Or being old and incontinent, maybe that's his punishment. Either or.

A smiling Huntress tells Spurs that Wayne was innocent, and turns over the gift-wrapped records to Commissioner Gordon. The story ends with Huntress watching Batman reaffirm his vow at his parents' graves, which I'm going to interpret as more inspiring than creepy.

The backup feature was another Nemesis story, cool in a very 70's-80's cop show kind of way, and not just Nemesis' hair either. There's a helicopter crash in there that wouldn't have been out of place on any number of shows I watched as a kid. Anyway, glad to see he's back in the DCU now as well.

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