I own a handful of special one-shot holiday comics put out by DC Comics and Marvel Comics so be on the lookout up until Christmas because I’m going to try to give a few of them a read through and post my thoughts on them.
This particular post is TWO YEARS in the making! 2009 is when I saved my first draft of this post to WordPress. For TWO YEARS all I had in this post was the cover art. Now, here in December 2011, I’m finally going to publish this. This post involves three of my favorite things: comic books, the 1980s and Christmas. So read on for my recap of…
Christmas With the Super-Heroes #1 (1988, DC Comics)
I was a HUGE fan of this comic when I was a kid. I never owned it but a friend of my did. I was obsessed with his comic book collection (along with his near complete collection of G.I. Joe) but all I can remember is this comic, Captain Carrot and a bunch of random Star Comics (Marvel Comics’ imprint for kiddie comics).
Despite being labeled “Christmas With the Super-Heroes 1988” on the inside cover, this is actually a collection of six-tales ranging from 1968-1984. Would’ve been nice to have gotten at least ONE original story but whatever.
The cover of this comic is one of my favorite covers of all time. Nice clean white background, great John Byrne art featuring some of the DC’s most popular properties at the time and a Christmas tree. How can you go wrong? The art wraps around to the back cover where you see a fireplace with the heroes’ boots hung on the mantle instead of stockings. Nice touch.
First up is a Batman story called “Wanted: Santa Claus — Dead or Alive!” taken from DC Special Series #21 (1979). It’s a short 10-page story to kick things off and centers around a reformed criminal turned department store Santa who is being forced by a gang of his old pals to help them rob the place. Batman is on the case but the criminals have seemingly made their escape until the Christmas star from a nativity scene ends up shining down and clues Batman in on where the criminals are hiding.
Next we have the Justice League starring in “The Man Who Murdered Santa Claus!” taken from Justice League of America #110 (March-April 1974). Yes, nothing says “MERRY CHRISTMAS” like a murdered Santy Claus. This is a full tale and features The Key as the starring villain and featuring giant-size absorbing Christmas ornaments and life-size toy soldiers. Good ’70s JLA action from their original classic Satellite era.
From Teen Titans #13 (Jan-Feb. 1968) we have “The TT’s Swingin’ Christmas Carol!” Really? Swingin’ Christmas? Oh well, it was the late ’60s after all. Another full length story but it’s been divided into three parts, which wasn’t out of the ordinary in those days. This is a “happening” take on A Christmas Carol but I’m not feeling the the artwork of Nick Cardy. Cardy’s pencils look like something that belongs in a MAD magazine (though I won’t complain about the busty Wonder Girl decked out in a skimpy Santa robe & boots).
The next feature is the Legion of Super-Heroes story “Star Light, Star Bright… Farther Star I See Tonight” from also DC Special Series #21 (1979). How’s this for an all-star creative team: Paul Levitz, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez & Dick Giordano. Simple tale that takes place on Christmas Eve has Superboy taking a few on-duty Legionnaires in quest for the Star of Bethlehem. What they end up finding is a planet about to enter an ice age and they help save the three alien races living on it from extinction.
Time for a Superman tale with “‘Twas the Fright Before Christmas!” from DC Special Series #67 (March 1984). Good art by Curt Swan. It’s Superman & Santa vs. The Toyman! Pretty neat seeing Santa’s toys battle the Toyman’s.
Finally, a short tale called “The Silent Night of the Batman” from Batman #217 (Feb. 1970). This “silent” theme has been done a number of times over the years but this one actually feature some dialog (and even some singing). Batman hangs out with the Commissioner Gordon and the rest of the GCPD on Christmas Eve, cynically waiting for criminal activity to be reported because he states crimes does not take off on holidays. As this is going on, we’re shown scenes of crimes about to take place all over the city but the image of Batman appears and the criminals have a change of heart, if only for that one night.
Christmas With the Super-Heroes is a fun anthology looking back at some of DC’s holiday moments over the years. It’s worth picking up if you can happen to find it in the back issue section at your local comic shop or can find it online for cheap.
For more DCU Christmas stories, you can buy the DC Universe Christmas trade paperback from Amazon.com. It was released in 2000 and features some of the stories from this comic book.