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The best Batman Christmas stories (and there are weirdly a lot of them!)
He's not exactly Santa, but he is a mysterious costumed hero who shows up in the dark of the night.
There are some things that just go perfectly together, like peanut butter and jelly, tequila and lime, and Batman and Christmas. I think it's due to the dichotomy that it provides: You have this loner body-building ninja who hangs out in a cave, and he goes out to fight crime among the snow, the bright lights, and whatever sparse cheer Gotham can muster. It's kinda beautiful, if only because the color schemes look super cool.
And how did this pairing of Christmas and Crusader occur? Well, over time we've amassed a pretty good number of stories that have Batman dealing out justice during the holidays. And so, in honor of this joyous season and the not-so-joyous Batman, I'm gonna run through some of the best ones.
Batman: Haunted Knight
When it comes to Batman, the collaboration between writer Jeph Loeb and artist Tim Sale was especially fruitful, bringing us now-iconic stories like "The Long Halloween" and "Dark Victory." But while "The Long Halloween" does have a story set on Christmas, my preferred Christmas-themed adventure is the story "Ghosts" in the Haunted Knight anthology.
It's basically a Batman-themed remix of A Christmas Carol (it actually takes place on Halloween) with Thomas Wayne taking the Jacob Marley role, and characters like Poison Ivy and the Joker playing the ghosts. And while it's not an especially "new" story (plenty of Batman narratives revolve around Bruce Wayne learning to chill out a little bit), it is a neat, short read.
Batman: Arkham Origins
The Batman: Arkham series contained four games, and Arkham Origins is likely the most underrated of them. Set on Christmas Eve, it sees a younger Batman meeting foes like Bane and the Joker for the first time, and learning to work together with Gordon and the police. Like City before it and Knight after it, it has a sprawling map to glide through, but unlike Knight, it's actually a really pretty game at points, since most of the exteriors are blanketed with snow.
Nothing says "Christmas spirit" like Bane beating the absolute crap out of Batman to "The Barber of Seville."
"Christmas With The Joker"
I'm gonna be honest: This is not one of the better episodes of Batman: The Animated Series, especially if you're looking for the show's trademark grittiness and nuance. Joker escapes Arkham Asylum on a rocket-powered Christmas tree while singing the "Jingle Bells, Batman Smells" song. That sets a tone that you can never really escape.
However, it is a super fun episode, and Mark Hamill obviously adores voicing the deranged clown. So as long as you can ignore Robin's "They don't call you BAT-man for nothing!" pun, you should have a good time.
"Silent Knight of the Batman"
There are many Batman Christmas stories in the comics, but few are as vengefully cheerful as "Silent Knight of the Batman." In it, Batman seems almost desperate for some crime to go down on Christmas Day and bizarrely agrees to sing Christmas tunes with the police until trouble occurs.
But here's the thing: Not an ounce of trouble goes down. Even when people plan to do wrong, they are thwarted by Batman or by the mere idea of Batman. It's a miracle! And so we have a Batman comic that, for the most part, is just Bruce Wayne proving that he's got some killer caroling pipes.
Did you know that there was a Batman Christmas story in 1941? Yep, Batman made it nine issues before Bill Finger conjured a Christmas tale and man, is it a weird one. I mean, the meat of the story is pretty typical: Batman has to help clear a framed man's name and bust a criminal named "Hal Fink."
But it's framed around proving to a little kid that Santa Claus is real, which doesn't seem like it would be one of Batman's priorities normally. Like, I'm sure it made the kid feel better, but isn't there, like, a Joker you could be pummeling or something? I'm not trying to micro-manage Batman, but the dude is on the clock.
The greatest superhero movie of all time, Batman Returns is also the best Christmas movie ever. By now you probably know the plot (The Penguin and Catwoman threaten Gotham City, so Batman returns), but the beautiful weirdness, gothic designs, and emotional depth make it an annual watch for me. I mean, Danny DeVito's Penguin dies and is given a funeral procession by giant birds. How did this not win every Academy Award?
In need of more festive programming to watch over the holidays? Dr. Seuss' The Grinch Musical and How the Grinch Stole Christmas are currently streaming on Peacock.