Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Batman-Santa tale by Frank Miller and Denny O'Neil

Back in his early days illustrating Daredevil, and long before he did The Dark Knight Returns or Batman: Year One, Frank Miller illustrated a Batman Christmas tale written by Denny O'Neil. This was back in 1980, when Miller was still primarily an illustrator, and was darned good at it -- his early style being like a cross between Neal Adams and Marshall Rogers.

The story, first published in DC Special Series #21, and featuring Miller's first published drawings of Batman, begins like this: Batman is out patrolling on Christmas Eve (of course), and he's rather ticked off about a star being stolen out of a public nativity scene:

Meanwhile, not too far away, a crime boss named Lasko is celebrating Christmas in his own way -- when Batman suddenly drops in on him:

Batman asks why Lasko has arranged to have a boat waiting in Gotham Harbor. Lasko responds by turning his goons loose on Bats -- with predictable results:

Poor old Boomer Katz. He's an ex-con who seems to have gotten very popular all of a sudden, with Batman AND a bunch of underworld thugs out to get him. But Boomer had been working for the Salvation Army and now has a job as a high-end department store Santa -- and he LIKES the job. Trouble is, underworld thugs have bullied him into helping them rob the department store. Poor old Boomer.

After the store closes, the thugs move in on Boomer to get him to let them in the store. He resists, saying he can't go back to being what he was, but they force him to get them access to the store. Once inside, the thugs try to ice Boomer, but he makes a run for it. Lucky for him, Batman hears the gunshots and decides to break into the store, figuring that if he's wrong --

Batman makes short work of all of the thugs except one, who's run out the back to chase after Boomer and kill him. Batman runs after them, but sees no sign of them, until ...

"Wanted: Santa Claus, Dead or Alive," from DC Special Series #21, 1980. Written by Denny O'Neil. Pencils by Frank Miller. Inks by Steve Mitchell.

Happy Holidays, everyone!


Saranga said...

ahh that's nice. now how did Miller go form doing lovely pencils like that to his godawful Wondy for ASBAR?

SallyP said...

That's Frank Miller? Well I'll be dipped!

SallyP said...

Oh, and a Merry Christmas to Sea, Mr. Sea and Mighty Mite!

MetFanMac said...

Funnily enough, I was just reading about this issue on TVTropes.

Season's greetings!

inkdestroyedmybrush said...

now there's the young frank miller art that i remember finding back in the day. Not every panel is a masterpiece, but he nails some of the figures here nicely! If this modern generation only knows miller from ASBAR and dark knight 2, then they're missing out on some fun stuff.

Sea-of-Green said...

Yeah, Frank Miller used to be such a good artist. SUCH a good artist.