Bat Signal

Issue 522 – “Snowblind”

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So far during this experiment I’ve come to find that the covers to issues of Detective Comics are trustworthy about 50% of the time. Every now and then I come across an issue with Batman beating people up in a cemetery, and sure enough, that happens. But other times I see Batman fighting pirates, and it turns out to be a big tease. I can never really tell which ones are going to be accurate, so it’s always a bit of a gamble opening them up and seeing if the inside is in way ,shape or form what the cover was promising. So you can imagine my suspicion when my random number generator gave me the issue above this week. Is Batman really going to straight up fight a yeti on a mountainside? It didn’t seem that likely, since Gotham isn’t really known to have snow-peaked mountains that could contain a yeti in it. And places that do are kind of outside Batman’s jurisdiction. But what do you know, something small miracles happen, and we actually get crazy Batman comics from the 80s where Batman straight up fights a yeti. Let’s get to it!

The issue starts in media res with Batman and his Chinese guide climbing some mountains in Tibet. All we know is that Batman is on a mission to find someone that he had thought long dead, that that person is hiding out atop a mountain in Tibet, and that Batman thinks it makes sense to go mountain-climbing in nothing but his Batsuit. Oh, we also learn that someone is trying to kill Batman and his guide, since a suspicious avalanche occurs while they’re trying to climb to the peak. But Batman is of course able to save himself and the guide, and swing them to a nearby ledge in safety, while busting out some binoculars to scope the scene. And he definitly sees what appears to be a yeti running away from the scene of the crime, letting Batman know that it has it’s eyes on him.

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Batman’s guide thinks he’s crazy, since it seems unlikely that there’s anything living out in the middle of the Himalayas, yeti or otherwise, but Batman is convinced. And it was around this point that I started to get really confused about what was going on here. Was this a two-parter? Did I miss something that would explain this whole set-up, or is Batman just bored and figured he go yeti-hunting? Well, it turns out that the answers lay in the next couple of pages, which were a flash-back. Batman and his guide get to some sort of shelter meant for people making a pilgrimage to the holy mountaintop, and he starts to reminisce about why he’s there.

Apparently while hanging out in Vicki Vale’s office, impatiently waiting for her to finish various business calls so he could go to lunch, Bruce Wayne started flipping through the magazine her company publishes and comes across an article about some people going on pilgrimages in the Himalayas. And it’s when he gets to this story that he sees a picture in the magazine of one of the pilgrims, and realizes that it’s someone he knows. And not just that, but someone he thinks should be dead. So he runs away from Vicki’s office and heads straight to the Batcave to prepare for his impromptu trip to Tibet. Alfred and Robin are obviously a little confused about Batman’s random decision, and he explains what’s going on to them. Apparently in some previous issue of Batman he came across a guy named Klaus Kristin, an albino millionaire playboy who turned out to be an international thief. Oh, and also a shape-shifting yeti-man. Probably should have led with that. Kristin is some sort of human/yeti hybrid, and can change between human and yeti forms at will, which lead to a big fight between him and Batman in the Swiss Alps, that ended with Kristin seemingly falling to his death. But now Batman has some evidence that Kristin may be alive and well, and escaping justice, so gets the Batplane ready and strikes out. Which gets us back to the beginning of the comic, just in time for Batman and his guide to head back out in the morning. So the two continue their trek until they reach a sacred mountain called Kalais, which is apparently real, and they find Kristin hanging out with the other devout people. And Batman does the only thing he can.

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Yep, Batman just punches the guy through a building while not even taking any precautions to confirm that this is or is not the man he was looking for. But I guess it’s okay, because it was the Kristin guy, who is trying to explain that Batman has the whole situation wrong. And things are exacerbated when some Chinese soldiers see this weird albino fighting a man dressed like a bat, and start opening fire. But Kristin does something out of the ordinary, and tries to push Batman out of the way, getting himself hit with a bullet in the process. He manages to flee then, even though he’s losing a lot of blood, and Batman tries to figure out why a ruthless killer, who presumably has already tried to kill him by avalanche earlier in the story, would go out of his way to save his life. And to find out the answer to that question, and bring Kristin to justice, Batman starts tracking him all the way to the peak of Mt. Kalais.

And when he gets near the top he’s stunned to see a very large, very angry yeti waiting for him. The yeti attacks him and they have a crazy fight on a narrow ledge overlooking a cliff, which ends with the yeti pummeling Batman and throwing him off said cliff. But Batman’s okay, because his guide show up, freaked out at the yeti fight he witnessed, and saves Batman. The two then press on until they come across a little Buddhist temple, where Kristin is laying, delirious from his blood-loss. Apparently after his previous bout with Batman he survived, and gained a new-found appreciation for life, and decided to come to the Himalayas to find serenity and his father. Oh, and his father turns out to be that big yeti that Batman fought, who just happens to appear again to finish the job. Luckily Batman is able to blind the big yeti with some sort of flare gun. But as he’s about to finish the monster off, Kristin begs him for mercy, saying that the daddy yeti was just trying to protect him, and asks Batman if it’s okay if he stays up in this weird monastery with his yeti-daddy and dies. Batman decides that’s an okay compromise and awkwardly watches as the pair wander off into the sunset with a look of total confusion on his face.

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The face of a man who has no idea what he just saw.

So there you go. Batman fought a yeti. Actually Batman kind of fought two yetis, although one was some sort of changeling. And it was really weird. I’m still not quite sure what I thought of it. I’ve heard that there was a period in the comics where Batman kind of stopped caring about Gotham, and became a weird globe-trotting super-spy, which sounds all kinds of awesome. And I guess this is my first foray into that world? Although it wasn’t a particularly memorable one. It was kind of shockingly dull for a story where Batman flies to Tibet on a hunch in order to hunt down a yeti he used to know. If that plotline was in a Silver Age book I’d be all over it, but the issue we actually got was kind of boring. Batman doesn’t really do any detective work other than happening to flip through a magazine while waiting on his girlfriend, and basically comes off kind of like a super-hero bail bondsman. He travels all the way to Tibet to stop some guy who evaded justice years ago, and plans on dragging his yeti-ass all the way back to Gotham to arrest him. And then when he finds out that it’s because Kristin wants to stay with his yeti dad, Batman gets all emotional and lets him die there, instead of in jail. I don’t know, just kind of weird, and brought weird flashbacks to that stupid ending of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice with the whole Martha thing. It wasn’t a bad issue, just not crazy enough for the premise that it was trying to deliver.

“Snowblind” was written by Gerry Conway and drawn by Irv Novick and Pablo Marcos, 1982.

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