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Batman 27
"A Christmas Peril!"

COVER IMAGE NOT FOUND February - March, 1945
Story: Bill Finger (?)
Art: Jerry Robinson

Any similarities between this story and Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," is purely intentional... for the novelist wrote about the spirit of brotherhood which begins anew when the star shines brightly at the holiday season -- and this is the harbinger for The Dynamic Duo as they fight once again against crime, and tell an old tale in a new way... "A Christmas Peril!"

In Gotham City, Millionaire Bruce Wayne and his youthful ward, Dick Grayson are doing some last-minute shopping on this Christmas Eve night... Bruce is bartering with a Christmas tree salesman, who is selling the last of his stock at $7.98, and at an adjacent Christmas tree lot, they are going for $2.00. Dick regrets that they didn't go there first, and both watch as two hoods begin to pour gasoline over the holiday trees! Seeing that the thugs are lacking in Christmas spirit, Bruce and Dick change their garb, and Batman and Robin charge at the startled crooks! Robin's punch sends one of them into the lit tree...

The salesman tells The Dynamic Duo how the two crooks wanted him to raise his prices, and pay the difference to them! Batman learns from the stuttering thug that their boss is Happy Hoggsby! The mob boss has found the holiday a merry one, and has his men around town driving up the prices of Christmas trees at four times the price! Hoggsby is no longer happy, as Batman and Robin pay a call on him, and The Caped Crusader delivers an uppercut to one of his men! The Boy Wonder tackles the other gunman, while Hoggsby accuses The Dynamic Duo of starting the fight. It was Hoggsby's own men who started it, but The Caped Crusader finished it. Batman isn't too pleased about the Christmas tree market terrorism tactics which Hoggsby has been using...

He is working for Scranton Loring, the multimillionaire, and Batman knows that the young boy has inherited his Uncle Caleb's fortune, while Robin wonders how someone would turn Christmas into a criminal activity! At The Loring Mansion, Scranton's other Uncle, Timothy Loring, is admiring himself in the mirror, and is dressed as Santa Claus for his first meeting with his nephew. Peering through the door, Uncle Tim watches as Scranton is going over the books...

When "Santa" greets his nephew, Scranton calls for his secretary, who explains that this is his Uncle Timothy, who the courts appointed as his new guardian. Scranton sees that this uncle is nothing like Uncle Caleb. Uncle Timothy had thought that playing Santa would have pleased Scranton, but the nephew is unlike other boys, and thanks to his Uncle Caleb, he believes he knows what he needs to know. Uncle Timothy takes a seat and tells Scranton how his brother was known as "Old Scrooge," while Scranton has come to be known as "Young Scrooge." The nephew is pleased that he is making a quarter-million dollars by cornering the market on Christmas trees...

As his guardian, Uncle Timothy forbids him to do such a thing on Christmas Eve, but Scranton only sees what his Uncle Caleb told him about Timothy... how he never would amount to anything. Eggers The Secretary points out that Uncle Tim won't become Scranton's guardian until January 1st, and until then, he has power of attorney to handle all business matters. Uncle Tim can hardly believe that Eggers would condone such a scheme. Scranton tells how Eggers began the scheme and handled the details, which Eggers points out that it has gone so far to be stopped now. All three turn to see Batman and Robin, who wish them season's greetings, with Uncle Tim asking his nephew is thrilled to see them, but Scranton figures that The Dynamic Duo are fools for all the things they do, and ask nothing in return. The Caped Crusader suggests to The Boy Wonder that they take the young Scrooge out for a little air, and Scanton is tossed from one to the other...

The two leave through the window, taking the screaming Scanton with them, and Uncle Timothy somehow pleased at the sight. Tonight, Scranton Loring is carried by Robin, as he and Batman swing through Gotham City! Scranton hopes that The Boy Wonder doesn't drop him, and Robin smiles, as he assures the young Scrooge that he wouldn't do it on purpose. The three are soon at the scene of a fire, where an elderly couple once sold Christmas trees - until an hour ago when crooks set fire to their shop since the owners wouldn't cheat their customers! Batman tells Scranton that they had hoped to earn enough to give their own family a Merry Christmas, but there's no chance of that now! The young Scrooge suggests that he have Eggers send them a check, and the firemen see that there's nothing left. Robin pulls Scranton aside and wonders how the young boy can shatter the dreams of others with his racket, then "fix" things with a check -- and Scranton wonders if he is being insulted. The Caped Crusader tells them that it's time to follow the elderly couple home...

In the couple's home, a place with no heat among the other tenements, the wife tells the three how her son is dead, her daughter-in-law is sick, and she and her husband can barely get by for their children. Robin asks Scranton if he now sees what the folks were up against before his - ah- agents came by, and the young Scrooge is struck by the miserable living conditions the family faced. He asks Batman if it would be okay for him to give them what money he has with him... not as charity - but because he really wanted to. The Caped Crusader smiles, while The Boy wonders sees that he really has a heart after all! At The Loring Mansion, Eggers tells Guilliver that they had better make their move, especially since Batman and Scranton's uncle are around. While Guillver phones Hoggsby, Eggers is pleased that Caleb died after a long illness, and Scranton's stupidity, he has been able to split the fortune among the three of them! Uncle Timothy bursts in, only to be slugged by Gulliver, and for Hoggsby to get rid of him since "Santa" could get them all arrested!

Batman and Robin take Scranton to a hospital, where he learns about Joe Meeker, who ran a florist shop, and who was selling Christmas trees at a fair price. After seeing Meeker's wife learning about her husband's condition, Scranton wants him to have the best doctors available. The Dynamic Duo see that the young Scrooge is getting the Christmas spirit of giving -- not taking! With the bill taken care of, Scranton wants to know who was responsible, and Batman agrees to show him... Scranton rings the bell and asks for Hoggsby...

He sees Eggers and Gulliver holding Uncle Tim at gunpoint. His uncle tells him how Eggers and Gulliver stole his fortune, and -- the hood grins as he is about to shoot the "Santa!" Scranton demands to know if he's now poor, and Hoggsby laughs, as he points out that young Scrooge and Santa won't be needing a penny where they're going! Scranton is grabbed by Eggers, just as Batman bursts through the doorway! The Caped Crusader punches out the gunman, while Robin swings on the chandellier towards Eggers...

The secretary takes it on the chin, while Hoggsby aims his gun at Batman! Scranton races between them, determined that The Caped Crusader not be shot, and only Batman's quick action in punching out Hoggsby saves the young boy from making a noble sacrifice. Robin apologizes to Scranton for what he said, and the young boy has more than made up for his actions. The crooks are taken to jail, and Scranton tells Batman and his uncle that when he faced death, he realized that he didn't want money... he just wanted to be like other boys! The Caped Crusader is confident that Scranton can turn his life around, and Robin reminds them that they can start by heading for the stores before closing time... Scranton orders four of every toy, and Uncle Tim wonders how he'll carry everything...

At midnight, The Batplane soars through Gotham, laden with gifts on its wings! With the Batplane hovering in place, The Dynamic Duo, Uncle Tim, and Scranton make their way to a particular rooftop... The elderly couple's surroundings are now made merry with a Christmas tree and presents, while the kids confess that they thought Santa wouldn't be able to find them this year! At the hospital, Joe Meeker has pulled through, and his wife tell him that they'll have a new store on this happy Christmas. Scranton wipes the tears from his eyes, and Robin confesses that he feels like bawling, too! At The Loring Mansion, there isn't a present under the tree for Scranton, but the lad tells them he has received the best present of all! He has learned what real happiness is, and will devote his time and money to spreading goodwill all year 'round. Scranton only wishes that others could know how much fun he's going to have, and Robin suggests that they share the news! Uncle Tim greets one and all, Scranton waves, and a Merry Christmas to everyone is wished from Batman and Robin!

On the splash page, Uncle Tim and Scranton cower from the tommygunners, while Batman and Robin descend from their perch atop a Christmas tree!

Christmas trees are going up in smoke! (Holy Cheech and Chong, Batman!)

Batman's Christmas greetings to thugs, crooks, and their bosses is an uppercut!

There was also an Uncle Tim in Batman #239 "Silent Night, Deadly Night!"

Jerry Robinson was interviewed by Jen Contino at The Pulse, so please check it out!

Even in the '40s, there was "relevance" as Batman and Robin show how many people spent the holidays.

The Golden Age Batman is concerned about all citizens in Gotham, not just the criminals, and works to make a difference by showing a young boy how lives are spent during the holidays.

The Caped Crusader frowns upon hoods who would use guns on children, and the reader can't help but cheer when he punches out the gunman, with a grin on his face.

I'll take him over the Modern Age Dark Knight who treats his allies like enemies, drives away friends, and acts like he just sat on his cowl. This may seem to be a harsh observation, but I certainly can relate to a character who cares about others, rather than one who solely exists to fight in company crossover and/or endless story arc after another.

The Caped Crusader of The '40s is a man whom Scranton would risk his life for, and The Batman is quick enough to prevent Hoggsby from finding himself in the electric chair. One wonders if the Modern one would have used young Scrooge as a shield... or worse, as a new partner?!?

The Golden Age Batman believes that people can reform and encourages them to be the best they can be. The Modern Age Dark Knight continues to see only the worst in his city, and he could sure use a visit from his Earth-2 counterpart.

He is there to comfort a grateful mother, who weeps for the gifts brought to her family by him, Uncle Tim, Robin, and Scranton.

He is there to brighten up a hospital room with a Christmas tree, with The Boy Wonder knowing how special the holiday can be, and have hopes for the coming year.

He is there as a young boy learns what truly matters, and how he, too can make a difference.

He is a hero to be proud of.

Steve Chung
"A Christmas Review!"