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Sunday, December 17, 2006

Christmas Special: The Most Highly Implausible Christmas Of Them All!

One of my holiday traditions around the ISB--which is a pretty easy distinction to make since I've only been at this for two years--is that I like to set aside one of my Christmas comic reviews and take a special request from one of my loyal readers. Last year, it was Spencer's request for an in-depth look at the senior citizen sex shennanigans and old fashioned holiday cheer of Starman #27, but this year, we turn to Gorjus, who writes...

Hey! I KNOW you have the Legion issue where Superboy gets them to find that "special star" . . . you've referenced it before! Please, please, please, review that issue!!

Well, Gorjus, I hate to ruin Christmas for you, but unfortunately, the tabloid-size DC Special Series #21 is not among my collection. So unfortunately, I'm going to have to--wait!

What's this?

A copy of A DC Universe Christmas in trade paperback?! Why... It's a Christmas Miracle!

Ah, the Yuletide Cheer of outer spaaaaace! Written by Paul Levitz--who you might remember from my previous discussions as one of the Legion of Super-Heroes writers--with art by the phenomenal Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, this was probably the first Legion story I ever read, and even with Bizarro Computo, it still ranks as one of the strangest.

It opens, as these things tend to do, with Superboy flying through the time barrier to the far-off world of 2979, which means he's finally realized that time travel allows for him to experience Christmas every single day of his life. Once there, he swings by Mon-El, who's casually standing guard with a future space rifle, apparently having forgotten that he's indestructable and can fly and punch through a planet. Or maybe he's just really, really lazy after spending a thousand years in the Phantom Zone.

Either way, he bids a cheery hello to Superboy and then goes about his business, leaving Superboy to get a kiss under the mistletoe from super-hot mid-70s Phantom Girl--in all her widow's-peak-and-pigtails glory--before meeting up with Saturn Girl in the monitor room for a quick lesson on how folks celebrate Christmas in Outer Spaaaaace! And that's right about where things start to break down.

Why? Because right after explaining how Chameleon Boy is a godless heathen who spends Christmas patrolling around the galaxy, we're treated to a shot of Collossal Boy celebrating Hanukkah with his folks:

In case you missed it, Collossal Boy is:

  1. Wearing his costume, and...

  2. Kicking it with his family while he is THIRTY FEET TALL.

The first one, I'll give him, as I'm pretty sure appearing in public out of uniform is one of the nine-thousand things you can be kicked out of the Legion for under their amazingly draconian bylaws, but really, Gim, it's a holiday! Quit showin' off!

Of course, if that menorah's also huge and not just a weird perspective thing, than it could just be a matter of practicality, but that begs the question of just where the Allon family got a twenty-foot tall menorah unless he brought it with him, and that brings us right back to square one.

Maybe it's best to move on, especially considering that Superboy's been spending the last four panels on the verge of flipping out:

Wait for it...

Behold! The face of madness!

Yes, despite the fact that pretty much everybody else in the Legion thinks it's a lousy idea, Superboy eventually convinces them that they've got nothing better to do than go look for the Star of Bethlehem. So, with a handful of historical records and Lightning Lad's incredibly boring skill at star-chart navigation, the Legionnaires hop in a cruiser and come out of Hyperspace to find... well, a fat lot of nothin', really.

Instead of a star, they find themselves in orbit around a small planet that's experiencing the beginning of an ice age, and with a quick bit of investigation, they find that three of the planet's dominant species (yes, three dominant species) are in imminent danger of becoming extinct. And by "imminent," I mean, "like within the next twelve hours."

Fortunately, the sum total of the planet's population at this point--spread out among fish-men, mutant Smurfs, and the bastard children of Foghorn Leghorn--numbers at about twenty, maybe thirty, and so Superboy's able to cram them all in a cave where they can help each other out and survive until the UP arrives to evacuate them.

Thus, the Christmas of the Future is saved, and we all get a nice reminder of how hot the girls of the Legion were back then.

So yeah. This time, the inappropriateness is pretty much all me. Sorry about that.

More Fun With the Legion of Super-Heroes

| Revolt of the Girl Legionnaires |
| Just So You Know... |
| The Crank File: Adventure #303 |
| Just So We're Clear On This... |
| Jimmy Olsen: Chick Magnet... of the Future! |
| The Superboy Sound Effect Showdown |
| Superboy Prime is Entering a World of Pain |
| Badass Week Finale: The Toughest Woman in Comics |
| Can Nothing Stop Computo?! |
| Profiles in Courage: Evillo |
| ¡Viva La Super-Pet Revolucion! |


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I re-read that just the other night, nothin' but quality!

You should ahve scanned the whole thing in, so I can get me some Christmas Legion wallpaper (I'm too lazy to do it myself)

12/18/2006 3:07 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Heh he, futuronica.

Also Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez really is the shit.

12/18/2006 4:31 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

True that, teamsmithy.

So, wait, they don't actually find the star? That's kind of a downer.

12/18/2006 4:46 AM

Blogger LurkerWithout said...

I love how utterly bored Saturn Girl looks in that panel.

SB: Lets go have a crazy adventure

SG: Whatever. (Mentally: NERD!)

12/18/2006 4:58 AM

Blogger Unknown said...

I want JLGL to draw EVERYTHING

What?!? There's a Justice League of Green Lanterns? Wow!

super-hot mid-70s Phantom Girl

Man, for a pensioner she sure is hot! Considering she's over 70, there's not a grey hair in sight and, urm, everything's still perky. That's some star-spanning futuristic technology!

And by "iminent," I mean, "like within the next twelve hours."

And by "iminent", I think you mean, "imminent". :)

Oh, and Merry Chris-mas!

12/18/2006 7:32 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Man, I loved those costumes. Best dressed Legion ever.

12/18/2006 7:35 AM

Blogger Solario said...

They should just have retitled the issue: "WHERE IS YOUR GOD NOW?!"

And I love Saturn Girl's expression as Superboy descents into the maelstrom of insanity.

12/18/2006 9:05 AM

Blogger SallyP said...

I can honestly say, that this particular comic made NO SENSE WHATSOEVER! That said...wasn't it grand? The art is so nice, the expressions are a hoot, and Superboy has seriously completely lost his mind. THIS is why I love

12/18/2006 9:41 AM

Blogger Dwayne "the canoe guy" said...

THis also appeared in the 1980 Holiday Special with: ready?
Sgt. Rock;
Cain, Able, The Witching Hour witches, Phantom Stranger & Madame Xanadu;
and Jonah Hex (of which I'll be posting the entire story on Christmas eve.

I personally liked it better than the JLA story where the satellite runs into trouble & they have a Hannukah type experience.

12/18/2006 11:09 AM

Blogger gorjus said...


That just deserved all-caps with no punctuation--it was just that awesome. And "the face of madness"--indeed! Poor Superboy . . . we often forget that he was supposed to have a super-genius intellect (at least in the Silver Age--I think his brains got Byrned out with all the other fun in '87), but in this story he comes across as a babbling younger sib who just got out of an intensive two-week stay at Bible Camp.

Still, though: a Legion Christmas. Comic books are AWEXXOME.

12/18/2006 11:49 AM

Blogger Michael said...

To update what Dwayne the Canoe Guy said, this story *first* appeared in the DC Special Series #21 (sometimes listed or filed by its cover title "Super-Star Holiday Special"). This was a regular-size issue, not a tabloid, and is probably best known for the first Frank Miller Batman story.

The story was also reprinted in Best of DC Digest #11 and Christmas With the Super-Heroes #1.

12/18/2006 12:15 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I could be wrong, but that last Phantom Girl looks like it was lifted from a particular Playboy centerfold from the early 70's. The girl's name was Liv, I think. Her turn-offs included bossy people...

12/18/2006 1:59 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Space Betty and Futuronica are waiting for Space Gunther to arrive.

12/18/2006 2:48 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why isn't Garcia-Lopez a bigger star? And whatever happened to Wildfire?

12/18/2006 4:25 PM

Blogger timmdrums said...

Proving yet again why you are right in hating the Legion for being jerks.

12/18/2006 6:33 PM

Blogger notintheface said...

Never mind the giant menorah. I just want one of those two-foot tall wine glasses CB's holding.

Wouldn't he get completely wasted once he shrank back down to normal? That glass has to hold about a magnum's worth of booze.

12/18/2006 6:37 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fun story,really nice art too- that last panel looked like Terry Austin inks, but I see it was Giordano,

(Yes, I am utter geek tonight. But in the morning I'll be coo-day-la again.)

12/18/2006 11:15 PM

Blogger Chud said...

I preferred it when the Silver Surfer ruined Christmas for some little black girl when he told her that it was impossible for such a star to exist.

He then searched the galaxy to try and find the Star of Bethlehem.

He nearly got cut by some alien in an intergalactic saloon who insisted that there was such a star.

And then some random Watcher showed him all these different stories from around the galaxy of a star that re-shaped worlds.

You think I'm making this up.

But I'm not.

12/19/2006 1:54 AM

Blogger Chris Sims said...

Of course I don't think you're making it up; I own that story.

It is, however, not very good, although it was plotted by Stan Lee and George Perez, scripted by Lee, and drawn by Ron Lim. But it does have one of the most awesome Christmas story titles ever:

"Hark! The Herald!"

12/19/2006 9:17 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chud-Isn't "random Watcher" an oxymoron?

I remember this Legion story! I had it in a digest-sized collection of DC stories. It was an awesome collection. There was a Jonah Hex story where he teams up with a samurai warrior. There was also a Batman story where Batgirl, Catwoman, Commissioner Gordon, Robin and pretty much everyone else important to Batman get kidnapped by the Joker and tied to enormous birthday candles on top of a gigantic birth day cake. Still one of my favorites ever.

Wildfire was in the last version of the Legion, wasn't he? Has he popped up in the new version? He was such a cool character.

Lightning Lad may have deadly-dull starchart skills, but the man knew how to dress! Wildfire rocks a cool look, too. I have to admit this is the only Legion story with him in it I ever read, but I liked his cynical attitude.

Wow, it's totally coming back to me, how Mon-el was standing guard with a rifle. Back in the day, I knew virtually nothing about the Legion so I wasn't troubled about Mon-El packing heat. I figured the dude was a superhero who carried a gun, like Paladin or Two-Gun Kid or something. Looking back, I realize how absurd it is.

One possible explanation: Mon-El was temporarily without powers that day due to inadvertant lead exposure (maybe he accidentally stabbed himself with a pencil). He tried to opt out of guard duty, citing his lack of powers, but the Legion chairperson (whoever it was that day) said, "No way, Mon-El. If you're on the guard duty schedule, you're on the guard duty schedule, no exceptions, no ifs, ands or buts! Just take this rifle and get the @#$% out there! Slacker! Always trying to get out of work..."

12/19/2006 9:27 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know, aside from Superboy's time travel dimensia the basics of the story sound an awful lot like the Arthur C. Clark Story "The Star" (http://www.enotes.com/star ) in which a Jesuit Priest astrophysicist discovers the remains of an advanced civilization around the supernoved star of Bethlehem.

"The Star" was first published in 1955, maybe it was the inspiration for this insane bit of silverage nonsense.

12/19/2006 2:14 PM

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