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The first annual for the Rebirth relaunch of the Batman series (Vol 3) was released this past week and with it brought five very different and unique stories of Batman and Gotham during the Holiday season. Annual #1 takes a break from the current Batman story arc to tell tales of Christmas Yule. Abel Loza takes a look at the five stories and breaks it down for you.
Batman Annual #1 (Rebirth)
Story 1- Good Boy by Tom King and David Finch
The origin of Bat-Hound takes a new twist and is reintroduced into the Batman Universe, as he was never mentioned in the main Batman series in the New 52. The story starts on September 2nd, and it wasn’t a good first meeting between Ace and Batman as Ace¸ while a guard dog for the Joker, takes a chunk out of Batman’s neck. By September 25th Alfred is adopting Ace from the pound, unbeknownst to Bruce. Alfred is determined to turn the dog around and make him a sound and viable pet. By December 19th, Ace is now friendly with Bruce and wants to help Batman after he returns to the Batcave battered and injured. On Christmas, Bruce got the dog a “Bat-Hound” mask and is now officially part of the Bat-Family.
Story 2- Silent Night by Scott Snyder and Declain Shalvey
While Batman is out and about making his rounds, a few “new” criminals are making noise at Champions square, a usual neutral zone for all criminals. Before these new faces appeared in Gotham, Batman was just explaining how in his system of vetting emergency calls, an average of about 5.5 come through every second, but for these few minutes, not a single emergency call comes through. Ever vigilant, Batman is worried about the overarching problem that might be causing this and is trying to get to the bottom of it, but Alfred chimes in with a few wise words, “we used to have a saying in the SAS, Master Bruce, for these brief pauses in the battle, enjoy it while it lasts, bombardment will surely resume.” With a smile on his face, the ceasefire ends and the incoming emergency calls come in once again.
Story 3- Not so the Silent Night of the Harley Quinn by Paul Dini and Neil Adams
As a Santa clad Harley was Santa tries to break into the Gotham City Police Department trying to “really trying to square myself with Gordo and the cops. What better time to make amends than Christmas? I’ve changed allot, y’know!” Batman stops her from breaking in and proposes one of two options: Be dropped off at the city limits or go back to Arkham. While in the Batmobile and waiting to be dropped off at city limits, Harley is trying to explain to Batman how much of a changed woman she is, and how she is a symbol for good for those in Gotham City. At first Batman doesn’t buy in until he sees the people of Gotham symbolically being protected by the Harley Quinn, and for a night the police radio was rather quite. Batman is able to cut Harley a break and also shows some holiday cheer by dropping her off with her Poison Ivy and her other friends outside of city limits.
Story 4- Stag by Steve Orlando and Riley Rossmo
Barry O’Neil a local billionaire, with the help of Bruce and Commissioner Gordon, is unveiling a new “Winter World”, a winter amusement park. During the opening ceremony, Minster Blizzard shows up and expresses that he feels slighted because O’Neil’s Winter World mocks his life’s work of trying to create an actual Winter World. Bruce excuses himself and comes back as Batman, easily taking care of Minister Blizzard. O’Neil reveals that Minister Blizzard had been in contact with him and threatening him for months. After Bruce easily dispatches of Minister Blizzard, he sits, contemplating that no matter how many people he saves, he can’t save people from their eventual death. As this is going on, O’Neil walks into his apartment and is murdered by a mysterious character named the Stag.
Story 5- The Insecurity Diversion by Scott Bryan Wilson and Bilquis Evely
A psychologist at Arkham decided that it would be a good idea to hold a Christmas party for the patients of the Asylum and Batman is incredibly weary of this. In this version of Batman, he is having a hard time keeping the voices out of his head and not being able to control the situation. While Batman is checking up on the party and getting a grip on his voices, he notices that fear gas has now engulfed Gotham City. A new character, Haunter, is at the party and set off the fear toxin as a diversion, so she can try to escape from Arkham. It turns out that Haunter’s real name is Delia Pflaum and was an associate of Dr, Johnathon Crane, before she was put in Arkham by Batman. Haunter meets up with the Scarecrow, but not for long as Batman is then able to take them both down and take them to Arkham.
We take a break from the breakneck speed of the fast-paced I am Suicide story line and take look at five very different, but very endearing stories of Batman during the Christmas time. This anthology of Bat-mas stories are centered on the Dark Knight’s adventures during Christmas and it shows an angle of Gotham and the Batman Universe that we do not get very often. This has been on one of the best annual issues of any series I have read in a long time, and I know that not only all Batman fans will enjoy this, but all comic book fans will enjoy the juxtaposition between the imagination and creativity between all the artists and writers in all five stories. Can’t recommend this enough!
Jingle Bells. Batman Smells! The first annual for the Rebirth line came out this past week and it took me by surprise, in a good way. I did not expect it to be a Christmas anthology of Batman stories. There seemed to be a good mix of quite a bit of different elements of the Batman universe. From the reworking of the Bat-Hound origin story, to the introduction of a couple of new characters (Haunter and The Stag), one of which gets an ominous preview for a future story arc, all these elements work together to bring several new angles to the new Batman series. Side note: the art of Riley Rossmo, which has been used in the Monster Men crossover in Batman previously this year, brings that character to life, even though we only see it for a couple of panels. The tease for this character really gets me excited about a potentially great story arc and that Rossmo will join the Batman series again. Although this issue does take a break from the main series, it does leave enough clues to where the main arm might go in the future: Bat-Hound, Haunter, The Stag, etc.
Each story is very different in tone and art, while keeping the Christmas theme central in all of them. I always find it interesting on how different artists and writers create and portray their own personal Batman in their stories and in this issue we see 5 different reincarnations of the Dark Knight. Batman is one of the most interesting superheroes to me, and my personal favorite, because he means many different things to many different people, and we can see what Batman means to all these writers and artists. No one artist’s portrayal of Batman is wrong, and in some way, they are all right. We can all grab different aspects of all five stories and make the perfect Batman, which is why this annual issue really grabbed my attention.
It was great to see many artists and writers return to the Batman series, like Paul Dini and Neil Adams. Dini had a hand in created Harley Quinn and Adams’ blue Batman is the Batman many grew up on and is the design that comes to mind when they first think of Batman. Pairing those together turned that mini-story into one that will live on with Batman fans for a long time. It was also good to see Scott Snyder return to Batman in only a way that he could.
There is much more detail and nuisance in these stories than what I included in my synopsis, and I did that on purpose. I want people to enjoy the stories like I did, and I did not want to give too much away. Make sure to go out and read Batman Annual #1!
Abel Loza is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @st abel45
Source: DC Comics
The anthology of stories in this first annual edition in Batman;Rebirth took a swing at something original and it hit a home run. Along with the issue having some very good and interesting stories, these stories are tied in with the holiday season and makes for a great read for the holidays.