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Free Freeze – Batman #121 (Toys ‘R’ Us Special Replica Edition)

October 12, 2011

Consider this a companion to the Pizza Hut Batman reprint. Only, instead of getting it along with the pepperoni and anchovies, presumably Geoffrey the Giraffe himself handed this one down to you.

Where does Mr. Freeze rank amongst Batman’s robust rogues gallery? Is he top tier? A year ago I posted bits from a 1980s digest, one page retellings of Batman villain origins. There were five of them: Joker, Penguin, Riddler, Two-Face and Catwoman. It’s a rough measure, but I’d say their inclusion — and Freeze’s exclusion — is telling. Those five are the creme de la creme. No one would argue with any of them being at the top of the bad guy mountain, with the Joker sitting with his yellow teeth and red lips at the absolute summit. But Mr. Freeze? Maybe a case can be made that he’s at that level, but at best I’d put him in that second tier, with the likes of Poison Ivy, Scarecrow and their B-squad ilk. And he might even be slumming down with Scarface and the Mad Hatter.

Hell, I like Captain Cold more than I like Mr. Freeze.

No love for the bald guy.

This complimentary issue, offered up in 1998, is a nice little reprint of Freeze’s senses-shattering origin (Script: Dave Wood, Pencils: Sheldon Moldoff, Inks: Charles Paris, Cover: Curt Swan), when he was called (perhaps fittingly) Mr. Zero. It’s a fun little romp, showcasing such tomfoolery as the Dynamic Duo doing their best Keystone Kops imitation, slipping and sliding along behind Zero’s ice-slicked getaway:

Jet skates. Silken lasso. Time to go back to the Batcave drawing board.

Origin time:

Zero’s looking a bit like John Locke on Lost, no? Where’s Jacob?

Batman and Robin eventually track Zero to his hideout, where they’re immediately encased in ice. Batman breaks them out by using a strategy that’s often employed by others in a similarly improbable predicament, a solution that really, really pisses me off:

A person’s frozen in a block of ice. Repeat that: FROZEN IN A BLOCK OF ICE. Yet they rock their personal ice cube (Your own. Personal. Ice cube.) back and forth until it tips over and shatters. How do they get it to rock? Shifting their internal organs? Kegels? How?

Anyway.

Finally:

He looks so happy. Mr Magoo at a Rutgers football game happy. An allergy sufferer gulping Claritin happy.

I’m not a lover of the toothy square-jawed Batman, nor of his diverse and stupid old-timey gizmos. I’m not Mr. Freeze/Zero’s biggest booster. But for a short intro to a character that has hung around for a very long time, this comic could do a hell of a lot worse. And it’s free. I couldn’t bitch even if I wanted to. Thanks, Geoffrey. Go eat some leaves from the top of the tree.

There are some puzzles and word games included for the younger set. If doing the New York Times crossword makes you feel like a moron, I present you with this Freeze-centric cousin to give you the illusion of not being such a dull, dismal simpleton:

“My name is Freeze. Luhn it well. Foah it is da chilling sound of yoah doom.”

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