December 24, 2012
Tonight you shall be haunted by another adaptation of "A Christmas Carol," except this one's really damn good.
(Open with Linkara sitting on his futon, still wearing a Santa hat on top of his fedora and icicle twinkle lights hanging behind him)
Linkara: Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, and Merry Christmas, everybody!
(Cut to a message reading "Merry Christmas from Atop the Fourth Wall", with the AT4W logo next to the caption and snow falling in the foreground with the sound of jingling bells)
Linkara: Yep, it's Christmas Eve here at Atop the Fourth Wall, and as such, I feel like giving a gift to everybody: a recommendation for a good comic, the one I'll be reviewing today: "Batman: Noel".
(Cut to a shot of the cover of the comic)
Linkara (v/o): Yeah, occasionally with all the crappy comics I have to deal with or just because of a theme month or the like, we do look at good comics around here from time to time and today, that's the case. Now, I say it's a good comic, but just because it's good, doesn't mean it's flawless, and there are some things to critique in this story, which I'll get into. So, what's the premise for "Batman: Noel"? Well, it's basically "Batman: A Christmas Carol".
(Cut to a montage of footage of various film adaptations of "A Christmas Carol")
Linkara (v/o): Now, I know many are groaning at that prospect already, since there's a belief that "A Christmas Carol" is just too played out; it's been done before too many times. Now, the Teen Titans comic last week just said it was "un-groovy" and "a dusty, old, corny classic," and that's just stupid! While it’s true that the story has been done tons of times before, that’s only because it's such a damn good story! At its heart, it's a character piece and about a man's personal journey of self-discovery and change. We see Scrooge's hopes and regrets and everything about his character just clicks right. While the story is linked hand-in-hand to Christmas, when you get right down to it, the story is perennial. It's why it can be adapted so well to fit other situations.
(Cut to footage of a similarly-themed episode of Roseanne)
Linkara (v/o): Hell, Roseanne had an episode where the story was Halloween-themed.
(Cut to a clip of The Muppet Christmas Carol)
Linkara (v/o): People forget that while the story is based around Scrooge needing to embrace the Christmas spirit, there was another part of that.
Ebenezar Scrooge (Michael Caine): (sobbing) I-I will honor Christmas and try to keep it all the year!
(More footage of adaptations of the story is shown)
Linkara (v/o): You don't just change for Christmas, you change for the rest of your life. Everyone has their own favorite version of the story. I've got three myself: the Patrick Stewart version for the fantastic acting, the Muppet version since it was first exposure to the tale and great songs, and the Doctor Who version for being a clever interpretation of the story, despite some hiccups about how time travel is supposed to work in Doctor Who.
Linkara: When you reinterpret the story badly, you get last week's Teen Titans issue. When you reinterpret it well, you get today's comic. So, let's open up the present of (holds up today's comic) "Batman: Noel".
(The AT4W title theme plays; title card has "Thankful Heart from The Muppet Christmas Carol playing in the background. Cut to a closeup of the comic's cover)
Linkara (v/o): We're unfortunately going have to skip over a lot of bits in this one. Why? Well, because "Batman Noel" is not one 22 or even 48-page comic, but a full 112-page graphic novel that was released last year. As such, we really don’t have time to examine every page, so there will be a lot of summarizing going on. That being said, this cover is bad. It's not badly drawn. Hell, the writer and artist, Lee Bermejo, does a gorgeous job on the artwork of this book. The problem is that there's nothing about it that screams "Noel", "Christmas", or anything like that. It's an image of Batman gritting his teeth and holding his fists together as if he was constipated.
Linkara: (as Batman, imitating his pose) I'm not listening! La la la la la!
Linkara (v/o]): I suppose you could argue that the presence of snow makes it somewhat Christmas-y. but by that logic, "Silent Hill" is the greatest Christmas story of them all.
(Cut to an image of a Pyramid Head wearing a Santa hat with it snowing in the foreground as we hear both jingle bells and the Silent Hill horn. Then cut to the first page of the Batman comic)
Linkara (v/o): We open on the snowy rooftops of Gotham City
Narrator: Okay, you want me to tell you a story?
Linkara: (as narrator) This is the story of the last of the Babylon stations.
Narrator: I gotta be honest, I'm not so good at it.
Linkara: Then perhaps you shouldn't be our narrator.
Narrator: My dad, boy could he spin a yarn!
Linkara: (as narrator) He couldn't tell a story to save his life, either, but man, could he knit like a boss!
Narrator: He could suck you in right from the beginning, like any good story... and keep you stuck to your seat, hook, line and sinker, Yup, Dad was probably better at tellin' stories than anything else, just ask my mom.
Linkara: (as narrator) She'd scream, day and night, that that was all he was good for.
Narrator: This story...it's a doozy. Dad told it to me one Christmas. He was pretty sauced and at first I thought he was makin' it all up as he went along, but in the end, it all made sense.
Linkara: (as narrator) Turns out that the punch line was, "The Aristocrats!"
Narrator: Let me tell ya, some WEIRD stuff happens in this story. You may find some of it hard to swallow.
Linkara: Last week, I read a comic that featured the Teen Titans encountering a group of people who had almost identical names to every character in a Christmas carol and a ray gun that turned junk into new materials. (leans forward toward camera) Try me.
Narrator: First thing, though, you gotta tell me something...
Linkara: (confused) Okay, uh... I like Arby's. A lot. There, that was something.
Narrator: 'Cuz for this story to make sense...for it to mean ANYTHING...you have to BELIEVE in something. Something VERY important. You have to believe people can CHANGE.
Linkara: No, you really don't. You don't have to believe in something for you to understand it or to enjoy a story.
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, now that the unnecessary, overly dramatic opening is out of the way, we have Batman running across the snowy rooftops, and my God, is this artwork gorgeous! I mean, you look at how freakin' detailed and full this two-page spread of Gotham City is, with atmospheric haze and the snow and the architecture... and then you look at the era of Rob Liefeld and other artists like him, and you wonder how they could have been so freakin' lazy with their backgrounds!
Narrator: It might be difficult to understand, you're just a KID. In life, as people get older, they get set in their ways. Most people get older, they get set in their ways. Most people never change. It's too scary, like staring off the edge of a cliff... Most people just can’t make the LEAP.
Linkara: (confused) So... this comic is arguing the position that if someone dares you to jump off a cliff, you should do it?
Linkara (v/o): Now it's time to meet our narrator... I presume, anyway. The comic is vague enough on this point that it doesn't really matter one way or another. Since this is a "Christmas Carol" adaptation, he's naturally named Bob. Bob is down on his luck. He's poor and opportunities have not presented themselves for him to take advantage of. What's worse is that...
(Cut briefly to a panel of "Teen Titans #13")
Linkara (v/o): ...he's got a son that needs him and the junkyard owner that he works for– (stops abruptly and stammers) Sorry, that was last week.
(Cut back to the current comic)
Linkara (v/o): No, this guy has got it worse than the good Bob Ratchet from last week. Bob's boss in this story? The Joker, although the narration is kind of iffy on that point. It still addresses his boss as "Scrooge" and we kind of see why Batman is the real "boss" here in a minute. Bob picks up a box of money on the instruction of the Joker, and Batman attacks and forces him to run off. Once the package is dropped, all the money spills out, and our pal, the Dark Knight, grabs him and starts yelling in his face.
Bob: PLEASE... Don't...I got a K-K-KID!! Don’t hurt me!!
Batman: You have ONE chance...
Linkara: (as Batman) Point me in the direction of the nearest jazz club! DO IT!
Batman: You're gonna tell me where he is! You won't lie if you want to walk out of here!
Bob: I...But I...I d-d-don't...I mean, he never–
Batman: TELL ME!
(Cut to a clip from The Dark Knight)
Batman (Christian Bale): WHERE IS HE?!
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): Yeah, seriously, it's like Nolan-verse Batman here. Bob says he [the Joker] only got a note and all he was told was to pick up the money. He was going to get another note with instructions, and naturally, Bats threatens to beat him, even though he's [Bob's] probably crapped his pants five times in the last few seconds.
Batman: You won't be gettinganother note. He'll find out that you don't have his money and come to collect... in spades.
Linkara: (as Bob, scared) Why are you yelling at me? (as Batman) I'm not yelling! This is my natural speaking voice!
Batman: Scum. You never cease to amaze me.
Linkara: Amaze you? He's a gofer. He dropped off a package and he picked up another package. That's not exactly the height of immoral behavior, dude.
Batman: You should be going to jail tonight. Consider yourself lucky that you make a better piece of live bait than jail bait.
Linkara: (confused) Uh... Bruce, you wanna rephrase that? Or was it your intention to infer that he isn't an attractive seventeen-year-old girl?
Linkara (v/o): Also, not a good idea to start telling the bait that they're bait. If he was lying, he could've tipped off the Joker. Anyway, Batman lets him run off and he quickly makes his way back to his home, not realizing that Batman slipped a tracer on him. Bats, meanwhile, breaks into the shop where Bob had left a bag, but the Joker had already gone in and taken it, leaving a note for him. The narration continues, bringing up how Scrooge was a fellow who let fear drive him, not let anything stop him.
Narrator: He had forgotten what it was like to WANT.
Linkara: (as Batman, shaking his fist in the air) I want a pony! (gnashes his teeth)
Linkara (v/o): Bob returns home, the narration continuing to talk about how much of a loser he is.
Narrator: He WISHED he could be a tough guy, someone who took the bull by the horns and all that brass...
Linkara: That expression has always kind of confused me. I'm sorry, but in a one-on-one battle between a guy and a bull, my money is on the bull! If you're close enough to the bull to grabs its horns, chances are you’re close enough to be stabbed by the horns!
Linkara (v/o): Now it's time to talk about his lousy apartment.
Narrator: Truth be told, Bob was never much of a winner. He lives in a crappy little ramshackle apartment in a crappier neighborhood. This one-bedroom shoebox had a broken toilet and bad heating...
(Cut to a clip the Rifftrax video on Christmas Rhapsody)
Kevin Murphy (v/o): You're kind of running out of interesting things to tell us about yourself, aren't you?
(Cut back to the comic)
Narrator: ...but it was a WARM place. That was probably because of little Timmy.
Linkara: (as narrator) Taking inspiration from The Matrix, Bob hooked up little Timmy to a machine that provided him power and heat.
Linkara (v/o): Little Timmy is working on a Christmas tree so pathetic, that the one in the Charlie Brown special is laughing at it. And of course, little Timmy is angelic in all qualities. And okay, while the artwork is 99% really damn good in this book, there is the occasional nightmare fuel, like Timmy's ventriloquist dummy face here. Sometimes, being more realistic is not the way to go. Bob rushes in, naturally panicking after what happened with Batman, and yells at his son for a moment when he's talking about the tree he made. Realizing what he's done, Bob apologizes and comforts Timmy, asking about the tree.
Timmy: I thought it would be cool to draw the Superman emblem on the army man 'cuz he just didn’t seem very Christmassy and Superman is more like Santa...
Linkara: Two seconds later, Batman leaps into the room to beat the kid up for liking Superman more than him.
Linkara (v/o): When the kid suggests that he put Batman on there, Bob isn't exactly enthusiastic on the idea.
Timmy: But I thought Batman was one of the good guys.
Timmy: Bobby Mills says he only hurts people that done somethin' bad.
Bob: I mean... I guess...Maybe things ain't always that black and white.
Linkara: You can be a good person, but if you mention rock 'n' roll around the guy, (holds up fist) he'll punch a hole through your face.
Linkara (v/o): Meanwhile, at stately Wayne Manor...
Narrator: This Scrooge guy, on the other hand, he had EVERYHING.
Linkara: (as Batman) Everything, except... VENGENCE!
Linkara (v/o): We go inside the Batcave. The rock formations are especially beautiful in these panels, which the narration does a good job of linking Scrooge's dingy, old living quarters to that of the Batcave. Alfred comes down to Bruce with some eggnog, and Bruce has a noticeable cold, although Bruce denies it. Less impressive on the artistic side is Alfred's face in the last panel, which makes it look like he's having a stroke, based on his eyes. Bruce says that Bob is going to lead him to the Joker, and Alfred points out that it's kind of risky to put a child in danger in this situation.
Bruce Wayne: They ALL have children, Alfred.
Linkara: (as Bruce) It's getting to be a problem when their kids keep trying to get revenge on me. I wish criminals weren't so damn fertile!
Bruce: The father is just another criminal degenerate. Bag man for the Joker, and not a very good one at that. Just left the money behind and ran. Cowardly, the lot of them.
Linkara: (to Batman) He should have tried to take me on, even though, clearly, my reputation as a fighter precedes me! (beat) Wimp.
Linkara (v/o): Now, to stop for a second, this is one of the few legitimate problems I have with the book. Batman is not wholly unsympathetic to criminals in this situation. There's a distinct difference between a psychopath like The Joker and someone like this, who's just desperate for his family, and Bruce should know that.
(Cut to footage of an episode of Batman: The Animated Series, known as "Old Wounds")
Linkara (v/o): Hell, this actually reminds me of the Batman animated series and one of my favorite episodes, "Old Wounds". In the show, Dick Grayson resigned, partially because of his disgust over how unsympathetic and cruel he thought Bruce was getting. But in the end, it was revealed that while Bruce may have been harsh, he still tried to do right by the criminal and gave him an opportunity to change.
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): Whereas here, it's just, (as Batman) "He's a cowardly criminal degenerate, and I will destroy him! Blah, blah, blah, blah!" (normal again) Hell, he even points out that it's better for the kid's father to get arrested or to risk that guy's life than to take the risk that he'll teach his son to become a criminal! I know they're doing it because they're pushing the change angle and of Bruce as Scrooge, but it just feels out of character for Bruce. However, I am willing to cut it a bit of slack, because we're about to learn why Bruce is so concerned with getting the Joker. Alfred points out the costume of Jason Todd and that his life was risked as well. And now he's dead. The narration says that Batman's partner had been buried for years, but I don’t buy that here. Hell, considering the narrator is most likely Bob, how the hell would he know all this stuff about Batman living in a mansion and having wealth and power, or about Jason's death? It'd be easy to get the little details wrong, is what I'm saying. No, more likely, this is a short time after Jason's death, so it makes more sense that he's be overly aggressive in response to his loss, especially when it came to the Joker. This story is technically not in canon, but the actual comics did have a similar thing going where Batman was getting to aggressive without a partner to reign him in, which led to Tim Drake becoming Robin. But anyway, back to the story here. And because in "A Christmas Carol", Scrooge was visited by his old partner, Marley. In this case, Bruce looks back and sees a vision of Jason Todd, his old partner. He [Jason] doesn't say anything, and it could easily written that off as a hallucination from a really bad cold, but it's certainly a good parallel.
Linkara: On the other hand, it could just be final confirmation that Batman is cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs, but we already suspected that for a while now when he talked about feeling up his dying mom.
Linkara (v/o): Batman meets with Commissioner Gordon, who tells him that there more leads on The Joker. However, they got an anonymous tip about a cat burglar attacking an auction house. Batman knows it's Catwoman, but wants Gordon to deal with it since he's preoccupied with the Joker. However, Gordon says that the tip stated that there would be useful information concerning the Joker and that she "only talks to him."
Linkara: Except when she talked to the police officers to give that tip, I guess.
Narrator: Scrooge thought about the "vision" had the entire evening. He couldn't get it out of his head.
Linkara: (thinking as Batman, stroking his chin) Why was that Jason Todd wearing pants? He never wore pants in his Robin outfit.
Linkara (v/o): Batman spots Catwoman leaping across rooftops, and she's going to be acting as our Ghost of Christmas past.
Narrator: It was a beautiful GIRL. "How the HELL did she get past the alarm system?" he thought. A hot chick can get away with ANYTHING...
Linkara: (laughs, then becomes serious) No, they can’t.
Linkara (v/o): Batman isn't interested in playing any games with Selina and starts literally shaking her for information.
Batman (dubbed over by Christian Bale): WHERE IS HE?!
Linkara (v/o): Catwoman pretty much admits she was lying about having any info on the Joker, and Bats grinds his teeth harder than on the cover.
Barman: WASTE of time!! Should've known. Gordon is a FOOL...
Linkara: Aaand I call bull crap again. No matter what you say about how far Batman may go in hunting criminals, he has nothing but respect and admiration for Commissioner Gordon!
Linkara (v/o): But anyway, he starts walking off, Selina wanting to know why he isn't trying to arrest her.
Batman: If someone does tonight, I'm holding YOU responsible. I'll make sure you go away for a LONG time... (coughs several times)
Linkara (v/o): Look how much he's coughing in this panel, even while he's still pointing at her.
Linkara: (as Batman, coughing) I AM VENGEANCE! I AM THE– (coughs again) I AM! BAT– (coughs some more) God!
Linkara (v/o): Catwoman reminds him of all the times they've shared together in the past, where there used to be a sense of fun and he would always try to pursue her and they were "playing" Aaaand part of that playing is seeing Robin near a chained-up tiger trying to eat him. Yyyyeah, that's not exactly the best memory to bring out the happy thoughts in Bruce, you know? (as Catwoman) Remember that time my man-eating tiget almost devoured your partner?
(Cut to a clip of an episode of NewsRadio)
Bill McNeal (Phil Hartman): Good times.
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): When Batman starts saying, "Sick people like her!", she whips him for the insult, as if she was like the Joker and kicks him in the gut. This pisses Bruce off enough to start chasing her. The narration starts going into the nostalgia of the past and how Batman used to be about the fun of taking on criminals like that, which he's experiencing, thanks to the chase. It's an interesting play on the Ghost of Christmas Past, but it comes to an end when Bruce tries to leap to another building. The gargoyle he grabs snaps in half and he starts falling. He lands in some garbage, and we get a flashback to the mugging that killed his parents, but that that, in turn, leads to the Ghost of Christmas Present.
Superman: Need a hand? Looks like you could USEone.
Linkara: (as Superman, posing heroically with hands on hips) I probably could have caught you while you were falling, but... nah, sometimes I feel like being a dick.
(Cut to the episode's title card)
Announcer (v/o): Stayed tuned after these commercials for... a commercial.
(We go to a commercial break, after which we return to the title card)
Lewis Lovhaug (v/o): Hey, everybody. Just want to remind you that the Harvey Finevoice album is still available at (the following web address pops up...) http://linkara.bandcamp.com. So head over there now for ten holiday classics sung by Harvey Finevoice. (in Harvey Finvoice voice) Swing, baby!
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): This is a brilliant choice for the Ghost of Christmas Present, and the text linking it is great.
Narrator: The second was BIG. LARGER than life... literally.
Linkara: Except for that part, anyway. How exactly can a phrase "larger than life" be literal?
BECAUSE POOR LITERACY... STILL HAPPEN IN GOOD STORIES.
Narrator: Kinda ridiculous, Scrooge thought. It was the EYES that were the most troubling...
Linkara: (as narrator) They were glowing bright red, looking at my torso. Why does my shirt feel like it's on fire?
Narrator: ...too deep and kind for a man with such an impressive physical presence.
Linkara: Remember, kids, if you're physically imposing, your eyes are incapable of projecting kindness!
Linkara (v/o): Superman points out after a quick X-ray vision scan that it looks like he [Batman] might have pneumonia and he should probably be in bed, but Bruce isn't having any of it. However, Superman doesn't let up and offers him a ride back to his car. Batman agrees, but only if they stop at Bob's house first to check up on it.
Superman: Isn't bad form for a hunter to use parents or children as bait?
Batman: Justice comes at a price.
Linkara: (as Batman) $29.95, plus shipping and handling! (clenches fist) Justice is having a clearance sale!
Superman: If the father is involved, he could go to prison or worse. He could...
Batman: Then we only decrease the surplus criminal population.
Linkara (v/o): Oh, come on, that was a forced line! You didn't need to bring in actual lines from "A Christmas Carol" for this!
Superman: What are you going to do about the boy?
Batman: I'm going to scare him. Scare him so badly he doesn't dare ever follow in his father's footsteps.
Linkara: (as Batman) Wait 'til he sees me in a banana hammock. That kid's gonna have nightmares for years! (points to screen)
Linkara (v/o): Yeah, another bullcrap moment in my mind. Bruce's entire goal as Batman is to prevent children from losing their parents like he did. He's not in it to friggin' scare kids! Superman points out that it's the wrong direction to go and gives him a change in perspective by lifting him up over the city.
Superman: Look at your people. Take a second and look as hard at your lambs as you do your lions.
Linkara: (as Batman) I can't see them from here; I don't have super-vision! (as Superman) Oh, right, I-I've kind of forgot about that. Uh... Well, just pretend that you can see them like I do.
Linkara (v/o): They then stop over at Jim Gordon's place, where a cop is talking to him and his wife. They [Batman and Superman] listen in thanks to a bat-gadget. The cop points out that he doesn't know if they should trust Batman or not and Gordon says that while Batman toes the line, he's ultimately a good guy. However, he does admit that he worries about what would happen if Batman went too far. The narration pipes in again about this.
Narrator: He always considered himself a pillar of his community. An IMPORTANT man that people respected.
Linkara: (as narrator) He always made sure to always do public service announcements about radon and stranger danger.
Linkara (v/o): The narration gets inside Bruce's head a bit more as Superman flies him back to his car about the nature of faith. It's good stuff, not really anything jokey, so I'll leave it for you to read sometime if you decide to get this book. Superman drops him off.
Superman: Yep, you definitely need to see a doctor. Too bad they don't make body armor for your insides...
Linkara: One could argue that the purpose of body armor is for your insides.
Linkara (v/o): Bruce evidently decides to head home. But when he activates the car, it explodes!
Linkara: And that’s what happens when you don’t get your oil changed regularly.
Linkara (v/o): Hey, uh, Superman? You're not really too far away, you could hear that explosion and go help Bruce. Just saying. However, apparently Superman once again felt like being a dick because, nope, Batman falls unconscious as he sees a figure approach him. Yep, it's time for the final ghost, the Ghost of the Future. And this Ghost of the Future? Well, the future is gloomy, dark and mysterious, but ultimately is represented by someone resembling the Grim Reaper to a degree, so the future is represented by Death. And who else better personifies death in the Batman universe, but the Joker!
(Cut to a shot of a Batman comic's panel showing the Joker's skeleton)
Linkara (v/o): That doesn't count!
(Cut back to "Batman: Noel" again)
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, the narration has its own take on the spirit. It brings up how you'll sometimes have a dream where you're falling, but when you wake up, it still feels like gravity is pulling on you. And since this is from the perspective of a man talking to his child, he brings up how his father told the story and the problem he always had with it.
Narrator: What never sat right with me about the last part of the story was the fact that the last visitor never once spoke a WORD to Scrooge.
Linkara: Well, that's because symbolically, the future is unknown and, well, unknowable until it's fully experienced. Thus, you'd have to have a good reason to give it a voice, like if it was representing something different than the future overall.
Narrator: Call me cautious, but if it was me, and some evil-lookin' cat shows up outta nowhere, points his finger at a creepy cemetery and I follow him inside, I’d hafta be off my MEDS.
Linkara: Actually, that was just the night watchman. He thought he saw you littering and wanted you to go back and pick up the trash.
Narrator: That's when I realized there was no third visitor... Some people start hallucinating when they’re about to die. I my book, if you're chasing a beautiful across rooftops and flying around with big colorful men that glow, somethin's rotten in Denmark.
Linkara: Dude, you live in the DC Universe. Chasing beautiful women and flying around with a glowing guy cannot be the weirdest things you’ve ever seen. I mean, what about that time the Spectre unleashed a horde of demons on Gotham? (beat) Twice!
Narrator: Let's face it, Scrooge wasn't exactly a spring chicken. Aside from the years, we're talking about a guy with some serious anger management and stress issues... Even the HEARTLESS can have a heart attack, right?
Linkara: So, you’re theory is that the three ghosts were actually just cholesterol?
Narrator: Old Scroogey was falling in his dream... and he wasn't wakin' up.
Linkara (v/o): Yeah, I don't buy the narration in this bit, but it's an interesting interpretation, that basically, Scrooge was having a near death experience or just an elaborate hallucination where his life and all its possibilities were flashing before his eyes and he just miraculously survived. Within the context of this story, though, what's happening is that Batman is dragged into a graveyard by the Joker and buried alive. As a result, he starts seeing visions of a future where Gotham is even worse and vigilantes are echoing his own words as they murder and kill looters. In addition, Commissioner Gordon is sentenced to prison for aiding Batman, and all of Bruce's possessions are sold off after he dies. Naturally, though, if you know anything about Batman stories, this ain't the first time he's been buried alive in a shallow grave, so he manages to crawl his way out.
Narrator: Sometimes it takes dyin'... to teach a fella how ta LIVE.
Linkara: And the moral of the story is, (points to screen) become a zombie!
Linkara (v/o): However, this isn't the end. The Joker arrives at Bob's house.
The Joker: (to Timmy, who answered the door) I know, I know...you were expecting the big guy in red. If it's all the same, though, I have a bag of presents too. Whadya say, big guy? Wanna know what I got here for you and your old man?
Linkara: (as Joker) I got you... a Snuggie! (as Timmy, cowering) You are a monster!
Linkara (v/o): Bob attacks Joker with a bat, but the villain easily outmaneuvers him and puts a gun to Bob's head. Before he can shoot, though...
(Batman crashes through the window as we hear the sound of a Kool-Aid commercial)
Kool-Aid Man (v/o): OH, YEAH!
Linkara (v/o): By the way, I know that’s more realistic a pose someone would have when kicking in a window, but I can’t help but feel like he's just strolling through the air.
Linkara: (as Batman, moving his arms like he's strolling; singing) I'm Batman, I'm Batman! Kicking in your windows!
Linkara (v/o): He knocks the Joker away from his gun and Bob picks it up, aiming it at the Joker's face. The Joker isn't scared as Bobby starts angrily threatening him, but Batman tells him not to do it.
Batman: NO!! You are not a criminal. Show your son the kind of man you are.
Linkara: (as Batman) A cowardly wimp! I– (stops short as he realizes) Wait, no! Uh... You're a hot woman on a rooftop! (realizes again) Uh... crap. Um... give me a minute here, I-I just crawled out of a grave.
Linkara (v/o): Yeah, he naturally decides not to shoot the Joker, and the police arrive to take him in. And thus, with Bruce having a new lease on life, he got to work helping people out, starting with Bob Cratchit. A Christmas tree is delivered to his door, along with a new window, a raise, benefits, and other things that Bruce Wayne can afford just by looking in his couch for loose change. The narration implies he [Bob] does something at the police station, though I'm not sure what exactly. And so, our comic ends with Bob finishing up the story to his son while a turkey warms itself near his heater.
Linkara: (holds up comic) This comic, and I cannot stress this enough, does not suck!
Linkara (v/o): While there was stuff I nitpicked in the story, none of it actually hurts it all that much. It used the format of "A Christmas Carol", but got creative in its execution while simultaneously delivering an entertaining, well-written character piece about Batman coming to terms with his mission in a more positive manor. While Batman changing his ways isn't a new idea, ultimately, it's not about whether ideas are new, as much as "Are they executed well?", which I would say, it does, in this case. The artwork is a real treat, showing great emotion and a fantastic use of colors and backgrounds. The characters are simple, but feel nuanced and real. And while I riffed and poked at the narration, it's actually really good, if unnecessary in some points. There are a lot of fine details I didn't cover in this video, mostly because I can't talk about everything, or else we'd be here all day. "Batman: Noel" is highly recommended!
Linkara: And from all of us at Atop the Fourth Wall, want to wish you and you're a Merry Christmas and a happy holiday! Now, if you'll excuse me, I have my own Christmas stuff I have to attend to.
(He get up off his futon and leaves as we fade to white. The sounds of blowing wind and melancholy music are heard as we then fade to Harvey Finevoice, coming straight from the last time we saw him. He covers his eyes, almost blinded. He opens them to discover he's in the living room of Linkara's apartment. He turns around to see a cloaked figure behind him near the door to the reviewing room: it's the Ghost of Christmas Future)
Harvey: (more infuriated than scared) Well, looky who it is: the big, scary future in black! I gotta tell ya something, daddy-o, I'm a little tired of all this cryptic crap! You wanna start driving me around everywhere, that's fine, but I'm not gonna be talking to the Grim Reaper while I'm doing it! So, you better give me a face of someone I can actually have a conversation with, or else I'm gonna find out if a ghost can take (pounds his fist into his hand) a beatin'!
(The Ghost of Christmas Future lifts up his hands and takes off his gloves. He then turns around to take off his cloak. We then cut to Harvey's surprise as we cut back to the Ghost how is from the back is a older, balding man, putting on a familiar brown coat and bigger brown fedora. He turns around to Harvey, revealing himself as Linkara-Prime, played once again by Lewis' father, Loren)
Harvey: Kid, is that you?
Linkara-Prime: Think of me as a future echo of what I could be, what I will be.
Harvey: I hate the beard.
Linkara-Prime: (rolls eyes) Shut up. (turns to the other end of the room) What's that over there?
(Harvey turns to see a small grave stone at the other end of the room, by the window)
Harvey: (sarcastically) Oh, no, it's my grave stone! (turns back to Linkara-Prime) This entire thing has been a complete waste of time, you know that? (laughs at the stupidity of it all) The Ghost of Christmas Past shows me what I was like a few years ago. Well, WHOOPITY-DOO! You do realize that the past makes up who I am today, right? There's no point in bringing me down memory lane WHEN I ALREADY REMEMBER ALL THIS CRAP! (Linkara-Prime listens patiently) And then there's the present! Oh, wowie-wow-wow! It's almost like I'm already living that right now, ya mook! What good is done by showing me that?! And now we have (points at Linkara-Prime) you, the future. And what is the future? I'm gonna die. Of course I am. I'm gonna die! 90s Kid is gonna die! The Ninja-Style Dancer is gonna die! The little blue robot is gonna die! WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE! (calms down somewhat and becomes depressed with a sigh) We're all gonna die and leave when we shouldn't. (becomes upset again) SO, WHAT THE HELL DO YOU GET OUT OF SHOWING ME THAT I'M GONNA DIE, HUH?!?
Linkara-Prime: Harvey, where do you think you are right now?
(Confused by that statement, Harvey turns back and forth between to the gravestone and Linkara-Prime, more confused than ever, and then heads towards the gravestone. He kneels to read it: "Charles Finevoice", his son)
Harvey: (saddened) I DON'T WANT TO BE HERE! (covers his face)
Linkara-Prime: But you're always here. I didn't bring us here, you did.
Harvey: (crying) You... You have no goddamn idea what it's like. Would you say goodbye? Would you say goodbye?! (shouting) COULD YOU?! (sad again) When there's someone out there who's exactly like the one you lost?
Linkara-Prime: But I'm not your son. You have to accept that. You have to say goodbye.
Harvey: How can you ask me that? When you walked away for three months... do you know what that was like?! It was like losing him all over again. I was so mad. (sniffles) I was so mad that he left me again.
Linkara-Prime: Harvey, I'm not who you want me to be. I'm never going to be him. You have to let him go.
Harvey: When do you let this stuff go? When are you supposed to start moving on?
Linkara-Prime: Well, what better time than Christmas? This is where you are right now. Where do you want, where do you need to be!
(Harvey turns back to Linkara-Prime, only to find he is now gone. Not only that, but the room has darkened as well. Harvey turns back to his son's grave)
Harvey: Goodbye. (sighs, then more confidently) Goodbye. Thank you.
(He then stands up again, as the apartment looks less bleak now, and the grave is now gone, too. He then hears a familiar voice)
Linkara: (calling out from offscreen) 90s Kid, STAY AWAY FROM THE EGGNOG!! (he comes in and sees Harvey) Harvey! Dude, when did you get there?
Harvey: (confused) I-I just got here.
Linkara: Well, dude, what are you waiting for? (gestures toward the other room) Come on! It's Christmas! It's a time to be merry and happy and spend time with your family and all that crap! It's time to be thankful, come on!
(He gestures again to the other room as he heads back in)
Harvey: Yeah. (clutches his jacket near his heart, becomes happier) Yeah.
(End credits roll. In the original upload, Harvey sings a cover of "Thankful Heart" from A Muppet Christmas Carol, but was copyrighted and is replaced with a song done on the piano)
You want to see something REALLY trippy? In the 1970 musical "Scrooge," Scrooge actually goes to hell after he sees his grave. He becomes Satan's head clerk. I'm not kidding.
Lee Bermejo is also the artist behind the graphic novel "Joker." I found that one to be a pretty unnecessary, stupid piece of crap. The Joker was just a standard criminal psychopath. I don't remember him even telling a single JOKE in it.
If you're wondering why THIS song isn't on Harvey Finevoice's Christmas album, it's very simple: different licensing company than the one I used for the other copyright songs. Also, I never asked Skitch if I could do it and it would seem rude to do so otherwise.
(Even though the song is not featured over the end credits, we then cut back to Harvey as he finishes up "Thankful Heart")
Harvey: (singing) ...I will hold you close in a thankful... (stops singing abruptly as he realizes something and becomes upset) Wait a second, all my stuff is still back at that hotel!
(Stinger: Linkara is sitting on his futon reading a comic when Snowflame appears behind the futon with a cloth over him and a Santa hat)
Snowflame: Oooh! Snowflame is the Ghost of Christmas! Oooh!
Linkara: Past, present or future?
Snowflame: Snowflame has no concept of time! Oooh!
Linkara: (unamused) You really have nothing better to do, do you?
Snowflame: Snowflame needs more friends! Oooh! (walks (or pretends to float) away)