Christmas Special: Santa Saves the DC Universe!
I am 23 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, "if you see it in the ISB, it's so." Please tell me the truth. Is there a Santa Claus?
Brandon, your little friends are wrong. Of course there's a Santa Claus! And he's my absolute favorite aspect of the holiday, since he represents both the spirit of love and giving as well as--thanks to his stint as the highly-successful pitch-man for Coca Cola--rampant consumerism, both of which add up to one thing: Presents. Not believe in Santa Claus? Why, you might as well not believe in Superman!
I mean, they are both in the Justice League.
Yes, while he doesn't make as many appearances over in the Marvel books, Santa Claus is all over the DC Universe. In fact, I'm pretty sure that since 1940's Superman's Christmas Adventure, Santa's appeared in more DC comics than, say, Gunfire. So tonight, the ISB is proud to present two of the Jolly Elf's greatest adventures alongside the DC Heroes!
Back around Christmas, 1983, Lein Wein and the art team supreme of Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson (with a cover by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez!) brought us this team-up wherein Superman and Santa take on the diabolical Toyman.
Why exactly it takes Santa's help to bring him down, I'll never know. In fact, I'm a little shady on why Superman has to take on the Toyman at all. You'd think that a guy who uses water pistols and little green army men to rob banks would know better than to take on a guy who can melt a tank with his eyes, but that's comics.
Anyway, his nefarious plot this time around involves giving toys that emit radiation to children around Metroplis, which sounds pretty bad until it's revealed that all the radiation does is make them want to rob people. Superman carts one of the kids off to the Fortress of Solitude, but one of the toys is booby-trapped, and Superman gets zapped with some white dwarf matter. He's powerless in the arctic, but fortunately he's not the only guy who lives at the North Pole.
Santa bails Superman out and helps him recover, showing him around the workshop while Superman thinks about a toy that Jor-El made for him back on Krypton that turned his thoughts into holographic images, finishing his little aside with "What a shame it was destroyed when Krypton exploded!" Yeah, Superman. Billions of people dying and the utter destruction of an entire civilization, but yeah, real shame you lost your Playstation. Jerk.
Anyway, Santa decides that he can't let some evil toymaker ruin Christmas for everybody, so they team up and track down the Toyman. Superman smashes his way in--through the chimney, of course--but the Toyman's ready for him with a bunch of wind-up robots. Santa, as you might remember, is no slouch in the toymaking department himself, and sends his own creations to help, leaving the Toyman to face Superman mano a mano. Predictably, it doesn't take long before Toyman's being hauled to prison, and Superman replaces all of the radio-hypnotic toys before...
...Waking up in the Arctic again?! What the... could it all have been a dream?! Apparently so, since he drops the kid back off at home and heads to his apartment to call his friends... and finds the toy Jor-El made for him in the secret pocket of his cape. OR WAS IT?!
Of course, taking on the Toyman isn't exactly going to get you in the Justice League. No, for that, you need to do something relatively difficult...
...like winning a fistfight with the devil himself, represented here by Neron, who is not to be confused with any other devil himselves rolling around the DCU. Brought to you just in time for Christmas of 2001 by Mark Waid, a guy who likes Christmas comics even more than I do, this issue finds Plastic Man helping out his pal Woozy Winks and his sister Wanda by telling Wanda's son, Weezer--who doesn't believe in Santa, but really likes Batman--the story of how Santa first joined the JLA.
It's called "Merry Christmas, Justice League--NOW DIE!" and it's one of my favorite Christmas comics ever. The splash page even features Santa's membership certificate, on which I based the framed JLA membership I gave my friend Scott a couple years ago for Christmas. Along with a bunch of other jokes in the story, it's a great homage to Justice League of America #4, where Green Arrow joins. Have a look:
See, Santa, on discovering that Naughtiness was on the rise, discovers that Neron, the devil analog that Waid created for Underworld Unleashed, has been going around rewarding kids with presents for doing bad things, presumably pouting, crying, and shouting. So he heads down to Hell to confront Neron, and ends up getting captured--and only the JLA can save him!
Unfortunately, they're overpowered and turned into coal, but not before they weaken Santa's prison enough for the St. Nick to use his heat vision--yes, his heat vision--to bust out and defeat Neron by giving him a Christmas present. It's great.
Unfortunately, little Weezer Winks doesn't think so, since Plastic Man's story is somewhat riddled with inaccuracies, but once they catch a glimpse of Santa flying around outside, using his heat vision to leave tidings of comfort and joy in the snow, making a believer out of Plas and the kid. It's actually the Martian Manhunter, who heard the story over the JLA communicator, but the real Santa's watching from the shadows of a nearby rooftop. Just like Batman.
Like I said, it's awesome. Right, Dave Jackson, Expert Gamesman of 1984?
More ISB Holiday Cheer: Ant Man's Big Christmas | Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose #17