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The Greatest Christmas Stories Ever Told! – #1

The countdown concludes with 1969’s ” “The Silent Night of the Batman” from Batman #219 by Mike Friedrich, Neal Adams and Dick Giordano…

In this offbeat tale, Batman swings by the Gotham Police Department when he sees the Bat-Signal…

Throughout the rest of the eight-page story, people throughout Gotham are stopped short of committing crimes (or other drastic measures that people take when their spirits are down) when they think they see Batman, all the while, Batman is singing carols.

That’s some pretty out there stuff for a Batman comic of the modern era.

And what a beautiful shot on the next page, as we learn that it was all part of a Christmas spirit…

What an out-of-the-box idea by Friedrich for the plot, and it is amazing how cool Adams and Giordano make Batman singing look – like it is totally natural. Boy, what a great story. One of Adams’ greatest efforts and that’s saying something!!

27 Comments

I’m a bit confused by the last two panels with the lady. Did her husband die? What’s her story in the overall tale?

Maybe Batman secretly fathered her child and now she has to tell the husband?

It’s really some excellent story-telling by Adams with her — the thought of spending another holiday without her soldier husband is too much — she goes to the Gotham Bridge with a flower and a note to leave behind — when the shadows seem to suggest a large Bat behind her…

you’ll need to read the story to see how it resolves.

Gah, when I was trying to think what was #1 I misremembered #18 as this tale. Boy, the memory’s going….

Yeah, oops, my bad, I left off the page finishing the set-up with the woman who thinks her husband has died in Vietnam but is stopped from killing herself by a shadow she thinks is Batman right before her husband reveals that he actually DIDN’T die (likely it was more of an MIA letter than a KIA letter, but you get the drift. A teacher of my uncle actually dedicated a book to my uncle’s memory during Vietnam because my uncle was MIA but my uncle turned out to be fine). It’s fixed now!

Funny — I hadn’t quite read the story that way — I figured she was tearing up a suicide note — but I’ve spent too many holidays with him on duty — everyone brings their own experiences to a story, I guess.

Typical military – -they’re sending him home and telling everyone he’s gone.

I don’t know why there had to be a supernatural spirit at work. It seems like a stronger story if Batman has worked so hard for so long to make Gotham City a safe place, and it’s a losing battle no matter what he does. But for just ONE NIGHT, he achieved his goal and Gotham City was free of crime.

That makes seven from my list including this one.

Now for the omissions:

Larfleeze Christmas Special: HUGELY SURPRISED this didn’t make the cut! I thought this was a shoe-in for the top 10 for sure, and it’s not even on the list at all? WOW!

Batman Adventures Holiday Special: There are four or five short stories in this, and none of them made the list? Or am I forgetting something? I expected the Batgirl one and the Harley/Ivy one were going to both show up somewhere. I’ll assume that since the whole issue was so excellent (it did win Best Issue of the Year in the eisners after all!) that these all must have split the vote with each other and kept each other off the list.

Marvel Holiday Special 1991: This whole issue is a cult classic, so I’m going to assume that like the Batman Adventures one that several short stories from each must have split the vote with each other and kept and of them from making the list as a result. I did expect at least “A Christmas Coda” would make it since that seems to be the general favorite from the issue.

Daredevil #7 from Mark Waid’s run: If the X-Men story with Kitty Pryde counts then so does this. It won Best Issue of the Year from the eisners and it doesn’t even make the top 24? Brian, was this even eligible? Because if it was then I’m honestly shocked this didn’t show up.

The Seal Men’s War on Santa Claus: It’s Jack Kirby! I mean c’mon! Did nobody vote for this thing? I actually thought it might have a chance of appearing low on the list due to it’s cult following, but I guess it’s even more obscure than I thought it was.

The Man in Red: Elseworlds short story where Clark Kent grows up to be Santa Claus instead of Superman. Never thought that it had any chance of making the list, but it’s a story that really deserves to be more well known because it’s one of the best Elseworlds concepts of all time.

Christmas on Bear Mountain (not 100% sure if I’m remembering the title correctly, but that should be pretty close): Carl Barks classic with Uncle Scrooge, Donald, and Huey, Dewey, and Louie. A phenomenal Disney Christmas story and one of the best (if not THE best) eligible stories to come up short from the list.

Party Animal: The DC superheroes get down and get funky in the DC Universe Holiday Special. Kind of a semi-almost-but-not-quite-classic. Not surprised it didn’t show up, but wouldn’t have been at all surprised it it had either.

Present Tense (from DCU Holiday Bash II): Santa Claus vs. Darkseid. I know it’s only two or three pages, but the concept alone!

The Night the Mob Stole XMas (from The Brave and the Bold #148): How do you not vote for a story that heavily features the term “buttleggers”? COMEDY GOLD!

No, Bart, There Is No Santa Claus (from DCU Holiday Bash III): Hilarious story from Mark Waid where Impulse thinks that the lack of Santa’s workshop at the north pole means that Santa Claus has been kidnapped.

The Steve Gerber issue of Marvel Two-In-One where Thing and Ghost Rider go back in time: I can’t remember the name of this, but this is a definite classic that I really did expect to show up somewhere on the list, but it was nice to at least see a reference to it in the intro to one of the other entries on the list.

Overall an excellent list. Nice work to Cronin and everyone who voted!

Moniker, I think it works either way.
This and the Deadman story were my top two. So glad they made it! Though I wonder what people used to the Very Dark Knight of the 21st century will make of Batman actually taking a night off.

And yes on Neal Adams art. The way he and Irv Novick drew Batman in this era is still the way I visualize Batman in my mind forty years later.

Huh. I’m surprised “Slayride” by Paul Dini didn’t make the list.

Awesome story, a deserving winner!

Much less known but similarly good is a completely silent Enemy Ace Christmas story by John Byrne, from (I think) one of the DC Christmas Specials.

@Bill K — Much less known but similarly good is a completely silent Enemy Ace Christmas story by John Byrne, from (I think) one of the DC Christmas Specials.

Ooooooh shit I completely forgot about that until you just mentioned it. I might have even voted for that if I had remembered it existed. I think it was in Christmas With the Super-Heroes #2, though don’t quote me on that.

This was my list:

1. “Slayride” (Detective Comics #826)
2. “The Door of the Solstice” (The Spectre vol 3 #26)
3. “White Christmas” (The Batman Adventures Holiday Special)
4. “Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot” (Christmas with the Super-Heroes #2)
5. “Be Good for Goodness Sake” (JSA #55)
6. “Christmas Knight” (Starman #27)
7. “Jolly Ol’ St. Nicholas” (The Batman Adventures Holiday Special)
8. Batman: Noel
9. “Metropolis Mailbag II” (Superman vol 2 #76)
10. “Wanted: Santa Claus, Dead or Alive” (DC superstar holiday Special)

Of the stories that didn’t make it, I figured about half were long shots, but I’m pretty surprised some of the others didn’t place. Some of the Batman Adventures Special stories and “Slayride” were shoe-ins to pop up, or so I thought.

And here’s my list:

1. “The Story of Fir Balsam” (Sensation Comics #14: http://theidiolect.com/comics/tannenbaum-squad/)
2. “Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot” (Christmas With the Super-Heroes #2)
3. “Silent Night… Deadly Night!” (Marvel Two-in-One #8)
4. “Yes, Tyrone, There Is a Santa Claus” (DC Infinite Holiday Special)
5. “Present Tense” (Darkseid vs. Santa, DCU Holiday Bash 1998)
6. “The Seal Men’s War on Santa Claus” (Best of DC Digest #22)
7. “Wanted: Santa Claus–Dead or Alive!” (Super-Star Holiday Special [DC Special Series #21])
8. “Star Light, Star Bright, Farthest Star I See Tonight” (Super-Star Holiday Special [DC Special Series #21])
9. “Billy Batson’s Xmas!” (Captain Marvel Adventures #69)
10. “The Night the Mob Stole Xmas” (Brave and the Bold #148)

This was a fun feature, Brian. Thanks!

Bill K, that von Hammer story was on my list too.

This is embarrassing, that’s what happens if there are no rules set and people vote for the Duck comic TWO times. I’m not a Duck hater to something but now I hope to see a list of (real) titles that didn’t make it because I imagined those 20 spots completely differently. Soooo many potential comics (e.g. http://comicsalliance.com/200-christmas-holiday-comic-book-covers-gallery) that surprisingly were left out.

I think implying that Carl Barks’s Duck comics aren’t “real” comics is the definition of a Duck hater, really. Those stories get voted for because they’re great.

Is there a post to see the full list of these comics? I know I can click on each square of the Advent calendar, but that means I have to click on each square of the Advent calendar! C’mon, man! ;)

Did anyone else vote for Outsiders #5, Christmas Carol 1985? That was my #1.

@urbanlegend — I don’t understand… What’s the problem with the duck comics?

@JH —

Never even heard of that.

Brian..
My mother is really bad in a hospital, so you can figure that this wasn’t my best christmas.

Today at noon, after dinning with her i needed some distraction in my head so I’ve checked your blog as i usually do every day…and discovered this GREAT list.
Suddenly I was a million miles away enjoing really emotional stories of my life long favorites characters.
Feeling sad for Deadman…laughing with the Bat santa…remembering the sexy 80’s ladies in the life of Peter Parker….

The list is so good that I felt the need to get some of those comics…I tracked many of them on ebay and I bought them already!
Now I’ll be anxious waiting for them.
And I’m even considering to make a donation to the HERO fundation!!!

So this chistmas day ended a little better for me, thanks to you work.
Please keep in mind my eternal thanks for this…and this little unexpected christmas story of my day, every time you are writting your articles. We are here on the other side having this kind of great moments with your effort.

THANKS!
Happy holidays to all the community!

JH, I thought of that one but voted for the Christmas story where Geo-Force goes up against Superman.

@Anonymous — I understand Donald is awesome and all but those issues shouldn’t have make it even if it was a TOP 50 Days list :) it was a valuable spot in this short calendar and I just can’t imagine why an essential holiday story like Batman Noel isn’t here, how about a cool Vertigo Winter’s Edge, what happened to the classic Adventures of Superman 462 (1990) or Spiderman 314 (1989) ? Even the story from Batman Black&White vol.1 #3 (1996) is better suited for this 1st place win and that Gotham City Sirens #7 (2009) is also great.

nice for was wondering if this story was going to make the cut. for even gotham can’t escape the xmas spirit espically for that one lady who gets a reunion with her husband in that one pannel.

“The Silent Night of the Batman” – an utter classic. One of the few comic stories coming closest to the film “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
Adams’ story-telling pulls it off: Batman carol singing with police doesn’t seem out of place.

@urbanlegend — Batman Noel […] Vertigo Winter’s Edge […] Adventures of Superman 462 (1990) […] Spiderman 314 (1989) […] Batman Black&White vol.1 #3 (1996) […] Gotham City Sirens #7 (2009)

The stories you listed are arguably mediocre or worse, and personally I couldn’t stand Batman: Noel or Winter’s Edge.

On the other hand Donald Duck is the greatest — and most successful — comic book of all time. What of it?

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