Saturday, December 14, 2013

"'Twas the Fright Before Christmas"

Continuing my holiday comic reviews this week we look at "DC Comics Presents #67 Superman and Santa Claus" written by Len Wein* and E. Nelson Bridwell with art by Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson...and let's not ignore the great cover by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez (pbhn**)

The story opens with Superman spotting a boy with a toy gun and spaceship trying to hold up a street corner Santa. The kid pulls the trigger, hitting St. Nick in the nose with a suction cup dart just as Supes steps in. He spotted a mechanism in the gun, with his X-ray vision, that appears to be dosing the boy with radiation. The boy, Timmy Dickens, has been hypnotized into committing the crime! But why? And by who? Leaving the faux Santa behind, Kal-El and Timmy head to the Fortress of Solitude to find some answers.

Superman has Timmy tell him about the mysterious toys. It seems they were found in a closet, and not believing in Santa anymore (he's too old) the kid decided to play with them. There was a blinding flash and next thing he knows he's with Supes at the Fortress. He doesn't even remember holding up the fake Santa. Big Blue suggests hypnotizing the kid to see if they can find more clues, and finds a big one! Timmy was programmed to bring all the money he stole to the local Big Schott Toy Store...Winslow Schott, aka Toyman is behind this! Superman, responsibly, decides to take Timmy home before chasing down Toyman. As they leave the fortress, flying across the tundra, though Supes gets blasted by a ray from the toy spaceship and falls to the ground unconscious.

Back at a Big Schott Toy Store, Toyman watches a tv screen and bemoans the fact that the snow is hindering his view of Superman's demise. What he missed though was a group of little people who dragged Supes and Timmy to safety. Not just any little people...elves...and not just any elves, Santa's elves!

Superman is a little confused. How could Santa's workshop be this close to the Fortress of Solitude without him seeing it? Santa explains, "My workshop is top secret! Nobody sees it...unless I wish it to be seen." The master of the naughty and nice list already has Toyman under surveillance (apparently he really DOES see you when you're sleeping and know if you've been bad or you better be good for goodness sake!). The jolly man in red talks toys with the big man in blue, including a holographic thought projector Supes had as a baby on Krypton, before they's time to do something about Toyman. All they need to do is get Winslow's records so they can track down, and deactivate, the terrible toys. Santa also let's Superman know, that since it's Christmas Eve, no one, not even Superman is faster than him! With that they pile into a sleigh pulled by eight reindeer and head off on their mission.
Toyman's not taking things lying down though and has an army of toys waiting to attack. Supes fights them off, but realizes he's still not 100% recovered from the earlier energy St. Nick brings in reinforcements, his own toy army! It's a close fight, and just when things appear bad for the Man of Steel, Santa tosses some marbles on the floor and puts Toyman down.

 Our heroes get the upper hand, and Big Blue uses his "super-ventriloquism" to call the police. All that's left is to replace the bad toys with good ones and get Timmy home safely. Unfortunately, there's one toy they forgot about...Timmy's spaceship, which zaps Superman again. As he comes around this time Kal-El finds himself laying in the snow, Timmy by his side, remembering a strange dream. "...there were reindeer...and elves...and...and...and believe it or not, there was Santa Claus!" Timmy has had a life changing experience, because the boy who said he was too old 20 pages ago now says, "Of course I believe in Santa Claus, Superman...don't you?" Supes isn't quite sure...until, back at Clark Kent's apartment, he finds a holo-toy, just like the one he had on Krypton in the secret pocket of his cape, with a special message...

And there you have it...a little slice of Christmas cheese! The goofiness of this story is part of what makes it fun for me. Was it real? Was it a dream? Does it matter? It's like an old holiday special on tv, just good old fashioned fun. And the reveal of the holo-toy at the end, like that knowing wink George Reeves would give to the camera on "The Adventures Of Superman", is the icing on the gingerbread! Hope you enjoyed, and see you next week!

* Len's written our beloved Ted Kord, so we're not too far removed from our usual fact it makes me wonder if there's such a thing as 6 degrees of Blue Beetle, like the way you can connect actor Kevin Bacon to just about anyone?

** our friends Rob and Shagg of the Aquaman Shrine, Firestorm Fan, and the Fire and Water podcast, always refer to Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez with the monicker "praise be his name" (pbhn)'s now embedded itself in my brain, lol

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