On The Cheap: The 50-Page ‘Batman Adventures Holiday Special’ Is 99 Cents This Week
When San Diego rolls around next week, it'll be time once again for the Eisner Awards, the comics industry's second-most prestigious honor. The first, of course, is our own ComicsAlliance Memorial Awards, but for some reason, those don't get the press that the Eisners do. Go figure. Point is, DC is celebrating the occasion with a digital sale this week that seems like it's designed to remind you that they've put out a lot of award-winning comics over the past decade. But as always, that comes with an interesting problem, although it's not the one that we usually have when it comes to sifting through the dollar-book sales: In this case, it's pretty likely that you already have this stuff.
I mean, look, if you're the one person still waiting on a price drop to grab All Star Superman, then by all means, get over there, drop the twelve bucks and come back when you want to talk about how great that Jimmy Olsen issue is, but I suspect that if you're reading comics news online, then you probably already have Watchmen in one form or another. There is, however, one title, buried way at the end of the list, and if you don't have it already, it's one you need to pick up: 1994's Batman Adventures Holiday Special.
Admittedly, this comic isn't exactly the most obscure thing in the world. I'd even go as far as guessing that after Mad Love, it's probably the second-most famous comic produced for the animated series tie-in books --- and like Mad Love, it was later adapted into a pretty great episode of the show. And while it's probably a more appropriate read for December than for the first week of July, it's still a pretty great buy.
For one thing, it's a whole lot of comic for a dollar, clocking in at over 50 pages divided up into five separate stories, and for another, every one of those stories is incredible. The creative teams are drawn from the people who were working on the show at the time, with the book written by Paul Dini, co-writing on three of the stories with Bruce Timm and Ronnie Del Carmen, with art by Timm, Del Carmen, Kevin Altieri, Butch Lukic, Dan Riba and Glen Murakami. With all that in place, it's pretty easy to see why they were able to adapt it for television a few years later.
The most famous story here is definitely Dini and Del Carmen's "The Harley and the Ivy," where Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy decide to kidnap Bruce Wayne and use his money to alleviate their holiday blues with a shopping spree.
It's one of the best stories for the two characters as a pair, and the bit where they accidentally "murder" Bruce Wayne by shoving him into an open elevator shaft, take a beat to consider the horror of their crime, and then cheerfully go back to shopping in full costume is one of the best parts of the comic.
The centerpiece of the book, though, is Dini and Murakami's "White Christmas," probably one of the best Mr. Freeze stories of all time.
The Animated Series did a pretty amazing job of presenting him as one of the more sympathetic villains, but here, the story about what he does when he breaks out of Arkham on Christmas Eve is a a unique kind of heartbreaking that does a great job of underscoring the tragedy that we've come to associate with the character. Batman standing over him at the end ready to smash up his protective helmet, and then just stopping out of frustration to ask him why, is one of the most important bits of characterization that Batman had during an entire decade of storytelling, and it goes a long way towards showing exactly what worked about the way they treated him as a character, both on the TV show and in the phenomenally underrated tie-in comics.
Plus, Murakami's exaggerated artwork in the story is fantastic, and gave us one of my favorite sequences in Batman Adventures as a whole, after Batman rescues Gotham's answer to Cindy Lou Who:
And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Even if you're familiar with the stories from the animated version, the comic is well worth checking out, and grabbing it for a dollar represents one of the best deals in comics.
Plus, this has to be the first DC comic to ever have the word "splooge" in it, right?
That's worth a buck all by itself.
DC's "Eisner Winners" sale runs through July 6.
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