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Batman 247
"Merry Christmas"

Story By: Denny O'Neil
Art By Irv Novick & Dick Giordano
Editing By Julius Schwartz

It's Christmas Eve, and elsewhere, people are enjoying the holidays... but on an isolated hillside, there is only the cold air, and three people who are urgently seeking shelter... while a mile away, on the other side of the rise, another braves the icy storm, his vestments a sharp contrast against the white snow, his face beneath the cowl a grim one --

Having made the trek up the hill, the husband holds onto his son, and knocks on the door, assuring his wife that they'll be warm in a moment. They greet the homeowner, and tell him how their car broken down on the highway, but are told to go away! The father is in disbelief, especially since he and his family are half-frozen, and as the homeowner tells them to leave, another voice tells them to come in... The family enter, while the homeowner is confident that they'll regret coming in from the cold. The lad goes to admire the telescope, while has the amateur astronomer concerned about his thousand dollar toy, but the man's other visitor tells him not to worry... since he won't have to worry about anything ever again!

The wife recognizes the other visitor as Chimp Manners, the man who stole a vial of the Army's top-secret nerve-gas! It is a pity that she is so observant because he won't let them live, but there is yet another visitor at the door... The Batman! He had been tracking Manners ever since the helicopter crash, and figured that he would seek out the nearest shelter. Manners pulls out a gun, but The Masked Manhunter grabs his arm...

The next moment finds Chimp Manners knocked backwards by Batman's open-handed slap, but Manners smiles, as he shows them the vial he stole, which could be used to poison an entire city! Manners persuades The Darknight Detective to hand back his gun, and he ushers them outside...

In the snow, Batman pleads with Manners not to shoot the child since he can do the criminal no harm, but Chimp doesn't like loose ends. The Masked Manhunter tells Manners that he'd better aim well and shoot him with his first shot -- because if he doesn't, he'll waste him! Manners smiles and tells him that he is an expert with handguns... having had practice aiming at live targets! As he takes aim, a bright light appears, blinding him, and causing Manners to fire wildy...

Manners is taken down with one punch from The Darknight Detective, who'd like to thank whoever fired off the flare. The husband sees that Chimp Manners is out like a light, while the astronomer tells Batman that it wasn't a flare... it was a star! Having studied Astronomy for forty years -- he has no idea where it came from or where it went -- but it was a star! Looking up into the night's sky, The Batman believes and knows that it will be a Merry Christmas!

Steve Chung