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DC has published a lot of Christmas stories through the years and a few of them have become perennials. I’ll never have anyone convince me that Wonder Woman filling in for Santa isn’t great.
But what about modern age of the Bronze Age and beyond? What story walks the best balance between great story telling and seasonal message?
I’ll start off with saying I have a lot of affection for many holiday stories from DC including this one:
The most perfect hybrid of Santa and Batman (I talked about this one on last year’s 3 Chicks).
Except for this hybrid of Batman and Santa from the DCU Infinite Holiday Special
Which ends with this:
Because nothing says Christmas like Superman clocking Batman!
And then there’s this one which is a personal favorite of mine, for obvious reasons (but also because it’s sweet), From 2009’s DCU Holiday Special, “A Day Without Sirens” in which we find out why Jim Gordon’s Gotham City is quiet for day. (And which may owe a small hat tip to The Silent Night of the Batmen from Batman #219)
The list can go on. There’s Superman #64 where he tries to grant the holiday wishes of the people of Metropolis (the letter writing at holiday time would be also covered in JLA and Supergirl).
There’s Superman #165 (which having Supes giving Plas rubber bands as a gift makes it fun even before it ends with Lois and Clark going on a vacation together)
Of course, if you want to rule out the “warm fuzzies” stories you could also make a case for Paul Dini’s Detective Comics #826 “Slayride” a violent, intense story where the Joker kidnaps Tim Drake. Or when Inspector Chimp from the ShadowPact keeps threatening Santa Claus (actually this one, from 2006’s Infinite Holiday Special is very funny).
But of all the Christmas stories, I’ve read, and I’ve read alot, there is one that I feel best provides meshes the feeling of the season, deepens our understanding of the characters while performing Metatextual-Fu that leave Morrison on the floor playing with trains.
From 1989’s Christmas with the Superheroes #2, "Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot" by Alan Brennert and Dick Giordano
First some context for the story. In 1986 DC rebooted their universe and as part of it they killed off the Silver Age Supergirl. And wiped her from existence. Given that Supergirl was a pretty popular character who even had her own, albeit shittific movie, this was, as you can imagine, a highly controversial move. If Twitter and and Tumblr had existed in 1986, I can’t even imagine the result.
Now to be fair, DC didn’t just reboot her from existence as they did with many characters in their last reboot. They gave her a big dramatic farewell.
But after that … nothing. The official DC word was that she just had never existed.
Until this story where a character looking like Kara shows up to help Boston Brand as he struggles with the season:
Until a familiar look young woman appears:
If you hadn’t figured out who that girl was by the end of the story you would certainly know by the last panel - Binder and Mooney were the main creators on the Silver Age Supergirl books.
So the fans got a story that not only showed that Kara HAD existed, that the character was as inspirational in death as she was in life. Christmas, for those who celebrate it, can be a wonderful time of year. But it can also be a time of sadness, of self-reflection and melancholy. Ten pages of a comic can’t fix that but these pages send a message that its not unusual to feel this way and that being flawed is part of being human.
They also sum up in very few panels what a superhero is.
Brennert, whose entire output of superhero comics can be combined into one trade (if DC ever got around to doing it) often addressed the issues of death and why superheros do what they do. And, no surprise, they are some of the best comics including a Black Canary Origin story, “Unfinished Business” from Secret Origins #50
And here from Brave and the Bold #197’s “The Autobiography of Bruce Wayne”
The Deadman story wasn’t without controversy.
Reportedly editor Mark Waid got canned from DC for this story although I’ve never seen that confirmed. And Jerry Orway, who was editing the DC books at the time, was pretty pissed about it but did not, as rumored, threaten to quit.
And, of course, DC ended up realizing that DC Comics without a Supergirl didn’t work. So they spent the better part of two decades trying to bring her back.
And then in the new 52 they just just restarted the character.
I think this story has a message that fans today can take some comfort in; someday someone will realize that their favorite character is an important part of the DCU and they too will be back.
Sadly, it too might take a few decades.
I’m not the only person to consider this a favorite. Anj who runs the superb Supergirl blog has written about this story - go give it a read.
So a few questions for you:
What’s your favorite modern Christmas story from DC Comics?
And do you have a favorite Brennert story?