Batman saves the day and beats up criminals, even if it involves Christmas trees and price gouging. You can’t expect a Batman Christmas tale without gunfire and the possibility of murder. The action happens in Batman issue 27 from 1945. It was the February and March issue, just in time for the holiday spirit. It is the last story in this comic, which seems to be typical of these comics to put the cover story at the end.
During Christmas Eve in Gotham City, Bruce Wayne (Batman) and Dick Grayson (Robin) are doing the last of their holiday shopping and are carrying wrapped gifts. Grayson comments how a street vendor is selling Christmas trees for the outrageous price of $7.98! Bruce comments how they aren’t even worth a dollar, and the vendor explains that there’s a shortage of trees that year. In the following panel we see Bruce with a tree over his shoulder. Now at a different location, Grayson points out that another vendor is selling trees for two dollars. Bruce gives a sarcastic response, apparently not happy that he got swindled. Some hoodlums are giving the vendor a hard time for the price of the trees, and so they pour gasoline or something on them and light the trees on fire. Bruce and Grayson change into Batman and Robin and attack the criminals. The vendor tells them that the hoodlums wanted him to raise the prices and then pay them the difference. This Batman Christmas tale takes an interesting turn once they confront the hoodlums’ boss named Happy Hoggsby.
Hoggsby and his gang laugh at the price gouge for Christmas trees, as they have been causing them to sell at four times the regular price. Of course Batman and Robin come bursting in as gunshots are fired and Batman punches someone in the head. Batman accuses the head honcho of terrorism, as he denies responsibility and states that he is simply the manager of the business. He claims that the young multimillionaire Scranton Loring was behind him. Batman explains to Robin that Scranton inherited the money from his uncle Caleb. His new guardian, Timothy, surprised him in a Santa suit to spend Christmas with him.
Batman and Robin show up to kidnap Scranton and show how his actions have negatively effected people’s lives. (You know, like A Christmas Carol?) Meanwhile, Scranton’s assistants have been transferring most of his fortune to them, thus stealing his money. Timothy, still dressed in his Santa suit, tries to intervene but is hit in the head with a telephone handset. Scranton confronts Timothy’s captives and is told that both of them are going to be killed. Batman and Robin suddenly appear, punching and kicking their way into righteousness. The perfect ending for a Batman Christmas.
Published in 1945, it is apparent that this was published during the tail end of World War 2. Many of the advertisements feature soldiers in little cartoons to sell batteries, soda and cereal. This issue is a real collectible and an honest piece of history. It’s complete with a Batman Christmas, a scrooge cheapskate, and a Santa being beaten over the head with a phone. What more could a person ask for?