Bizarro Back Issues: The True Meaning Of Christmas (2009)
Listen, I don’t want to get up on a soap box here, because that’s not what ComicsAlliance is about, but there’s something that really bothers me at this time of year. I’ve read a lot of holiday comics, and very, very few of them even touch on the true meaning of Christmas. Sure, there’s a lot about the spirit of giving and being a good person, but that’s the kind of stuff that superhero comics are always about anyway. There’s something more behind Christmas, something eternal, something that a lot of people want to ignore for the sake of being “inclusive” or whatever nonsense reasons they have this year.
I’m sorry if this offends anyone, but let’s be real: There’s a reason we have Christmas, and it’s time we acknowledge that. And that reason is that Batman reversed time to stop the Earth from being blown up by antimatter.
Fortunately, Landry Q. Walker and Eric Jones aren’t the kind of creators who bow to that kind of pressure. They got down to the real story back in 2009, in the pages of Batman: The Brave and the Bold #12, in a story called “Final Christmas.” You may already be familiar with their work as the creators of the amazing Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade and Danger Club, but it’s worth noting that B:TBATB was a far more solid book than it ever got credit for. That tends to happen with the animated series tie-ins, though. Batman Adventures and Superman Adventures were easily the best comics of the ’90s about those characters, and while B:TBATB skewed a little younger to match the target audience of the show, there was great stuff in there.
I mean, there was also that issue where you find out Lex Luthor’s computer password is “SUPERMAN,” so I guess it’s a bit of a mixed bag. Dude didn’t even put a number in there.
Anyway, like the show, the BATB comic always opened up with a teaser adventure where Batman was dealing with some other problem before he got to the meat of the story. Here, it’s Christmas Eve in Gotham, and we start off with Batman running down how much it sucks to be a superhero in Gotham City at Christmastime. I’m usually not a fan of the dour, joyless Batman — even when it’s played for comedy like it usually was in BATB — but I have to admit that I love this. When all you do, all day, every day is deal with deal with thematic crime, then you have to expect that you’re going to end up hating Christmas the way that retail employees hate Black Friday. There are like eight supervillains I can think of off the top of my head who would want to have sinister plots afoot on the 25th.
In this case, it’s Calendar Man, and his plan is… well, to be honest, I’m not even sure it’s illegal:
This, I suppose, is a matter for the courts to decide, but before Batman can properly bring him to justice, he suddenly vanishes, leaving one Mr. Julian Day alone on the rooftop. At first, Calendar Man is pretty excited about this development, as it will give him free reign to commit more petty holiday vandalism, but alas, as always, there’s a downside.
Specifically, the downside is that after Batman vanishes, the entire planet Earth immediately explodes, killing all seven billion people on it.
“Downside” might have been underselling it a little bit.
So how come Batman managed to escape the destruction of his home planet, even though his parents are already dead and he’s a little too big to fit in the rocket anyway? Simple: a Zeta Beam from the planet Rann, sent by Adam Strange to bring Batman to where things are almost as dire as they are on Earth. Or were on Earth, I suppose.
As it turns out, an alien race has unleashed a wave of antimatter throughout the universe that has obliterated not just Earth, but everything. The entire universe has been destroyed except for Rann, and even then, Adam Strange’s adopted planet is barely hanging in there, spared only as a result of Zeta Radiation interfering with the antimatter’s effects. You know, like we all learned about in 10th grade when the teacher explained antimatter and Zeta Beams.
Fortunately, there’s one hope: The antimatter wave can be reversed, turning back time to undo the destruction of the universe and setting things right back to where they were just before they were blasted out of existence. The problem, of course, is that there’s an army of aliens and shadow demons standing between Batman, Adam Strange and the solution to this impossibly huge disaster. But, you know, this is Cosmic Adventure Batman we’re talking about. It’s not that big a deal.
Things do get pretty dicey at first. The only vehicle Alanna could find, a big red hovering flatbed, stalls out and Batman has to use his jetcape to drag them all the way to the enemy headquarters, dodging shadow demons all along the way. And once they get there, they still have to battle their way through hordes of enemies in order to find the central control system.
Or not. I mean, c’mon, Walker and Jones only have 20 pages to get through everything.
Once they deal with the last remaining alien, a mad Psion who wanted to reshape the universe in his own image, the only thing left to do is to figure out how to reverse the antimatter wave. And this, my friends, is where things start to get a little weird.
See, the antimatter wave is being directed by a set of “data orbs,” which need to be physically rearranged in order to reverse it. The thing is, those orbs are themselves in the heart of an antimatter matrix, meaning that if the good guys are going to do that, they need to go into the stream of antimatter itself. Under normal circumstances, this would be immediately and explosively fatal, but as we’ve already learned thanks to Walker and Jones’s dedication to educating their readers about fake science, Zeta Radiation interferes with antimatter’s destructive effects — the very same Zeta Radiation that Batman and Adam Strange’s bodies are currently infused with. The heroes decide that if they work fast enough, they should be able to reverse the effects, so with one final kiss to Alanna, Adam Strange heads into the antimatter matrix, following hot on Batman’s heels.
It turns out that the effects of Zeta Radiation aren’t quite as protective as they thought, though. They avoid annihilation, but instead, the weird rays begin to warp their bodies, twisting them in strange ways. Adam Strange ages decades in mere seconds, growing a beard as his body blows up like a balloon from the forces pulling it in all directions. Batman, suffering similar effects, has his body compressed and withered to a small, spindly shape, his features elongated.
It’s a truly horrifying sight, but it might look a little familiar, too:
As a side effect of, you know, rebuilding the entire universe, this vision of Batman and Adam Strange is impressed, however dimly, on the subconscious mind of the universe, thus explaining why similar iconography shows up in our own holiday traditions.
In other words, Batman retroactively created Christmas.
So remember this year, when you’re passing around gifts and decorating gingerbread men and all that good stuff, to take a moment and remember the true reason for the season.
It’s always Batman.