THE GIFT

Superman has been featured in Christmas themed stories almost from the moment the character first hit the newsstands.  It’s kind of a no-brainer when you think about it.  Here is a character that embodies the concept of selflessness and here’s a holiday which has come to mean giving of yourself to not only your family and friends but to those less fortunate than you.

It’s the comic book version of, “You put your chocolate in my peanut butter.”

Of all the myriad Christmas themed stories I think one particular creator stands out more than others and that’s Dan Jurgens.  Now I will admit to being a little biased here but when you look at the ten or so years Dan spent writing and/or drawing Superman he produced some of the most memorable Christmas based stories.  He drew the Roger Stern written Home For The Holidays in Adventures of Superman #462, which is the touching story of the Daily Planet staff discovering that one of their own is not only homeless but has been living out of a storage closest.  Metropolis Mailbag in Superman (Vol. 2) #64 was written by Jurgens with art by Jackson Guice revealed that around the holidays Superman visits the Metropolis Post Office and answers some of the mail that he receives.  Jurgens followed this up the following year by writing and drawing Metropolis Mailbag II in Superman (Vol. 2) #76, which saw the heroes of the DC Universe getting together to keep the tradition of answering mail alive even after Superman died in the fight with Doomsday.

One of my favorite Jurgens fueled Christmas stories was a three page tale that appeared in DCU Holiday Bask II, which came out in 1998.  The Gift is a deceptively simple story due in large part to the fact that it doesn’t contain any dialogue.  All of the story telling comes through in the art and Jurgens sticks the landing time and again over the course of the three pages.

  The Gift Page 1

The Gift Page 2

The Gift Page 3

When I was a junior in high school I took a creative writing course and one of our assignments was to write a short story where we had to establish what season the story was taking place in without specifically writing that it was set in summer or winter or fall or spring.  The idea was to be able to rely more on showing something rather than simply telling the audience outright.  It’s easy to begin a story with, “On the twenty-fourth of December.”  It’s more descriptive and leaves some of the work up to the audience to begin with, “A light dusting of snow could be seen through the living room window.  The Christmas tree was fully decorated and nearly bursting with presents that would be opened the next day.”

Going with that idea and sticking with it Jurgens gives us everything we need to know about when this story was set not only in terms of the season but where it fits into the Post Crisis Superman’s history without a single caption.  We know it’s winter because of the snow.  We know it’s around Christmas because there is a giant replica candy cane in the background and the presents littering the street.  We know it’s early in Superman’s career because Lex Luthor still has hair.  We know that the battle with the robot was intense because Superman’s cape is in tatters.  We know that while Superman is delivering the robot to Luthor the battle actually took place up and down the east coast thanks to the newspaper headline.  It’s sequential storytelling at its finest and if you want to just breeze through the three pages you can but if you want to take your time with it Jurgens gives us a lot of meat on the bone, so to speak.

I also love the interaction Superman has with Lex.  The first four panels on page 2 are the perfect encapsulation of the Superman/Lex dynamic from the first four years of the Post Crisis era.  Superman has just stopped one of Luthor’s machinations that can’t possibly be connected to the billionaire, Superman gives Lex a taciturn expression, Lex feigns ignorance, Superman flies off, Lex glowers.  Again, with no dialogue Jurgens manages to convey a range of emotions and lets you know the main beats of Lex and Superman’s relationship.

More than anything I love that last page.  One of my favorite aspects of the Post Crisis era was Clark’s relationship with his adoptive parents.  Letting them live into his adulthood gave him a place to come and be himself.  On the farm he wasn’t a reporter and he wasn’t the world’s greatest super-hero.  He was Jonathan and Martha’s son.  The gift and the note from “Santa” fits perfectly with how the Kents were portrayed during this time period and I am enough of a softie to be touched by the sentimentality of the scene.

You know, I love the Metropolis Mailbag issues.  I love Pre-Crisis Superman related Christmas stories, especially the DC Comics Presents issue where Superman teams up with Santa Claus.  In fact I can’t think of a Christmas tale featuring the Man of Steel that I don’t like but this simple three page story is my absolute favorite.  Not only does it hit me right in my Superman sweet spot but it’s also a good example of why comics are a unique form of storytelling.  “Silent” stories (as in stories with no dialogue) were nothing new to the medium when DCU Holiday Bash II came out and to be honest I am not the biggest fan of them but this one is one of the exceptions that proves the rule, so to speak.

It also makes me smile every time I read it.

And maybe that’s the only reason I really need.

LIGHT UP THE TREE, MISTER PRESIDENT!

Friday is Christmas, so in lieu of my usual Monday morning editorial or article I thought it would be fun to post something related to the holiday.  I managed to find a YouTube video of the Power Records short Light Up The Tree, Mister President! which is a fun bit of audio that has Superman preventing nuclear devastation on Christmas Eve.

If you want to hear me talk about this Power Records classic check out episode two of the Power Records Podcast.  Just scroll on down to listen to the show! Rob Kelly was nice enough to have me sit in and guest star for this episode and it was a lot of fun.

Enjoy!

THE 2012 CHRISTMAS HAUL

Yesterday was Christmas and as usual it was awesome.  Rachel and I slept in (which will change when we eventually have kids, so I am enjoying that while I can) got up, made some breakfast and soon the opening of presents began.  It was a light year because money has been kind of tight but Rachel managed to snag me some great presents, a few of which are Superman related.

X-Mas 2012 AIt may surprise some of you to learn that I don’t own all of Smallville on DVD.  There are a few reasons for this.  Actually there is one reason for this; I am cheap when it comes to buying DVDs.  Unless I ABSOLUTELY have to have it the week it comes out I will go years without buying a movie or a season of a television series because I know down the road it will be cheaper.  So the Smallville box sets (at least the back half of the series) have eluded me thus far.  Target had these for a good price so I put them on my wish list.  Lo and behold Rachel got them for me.  Now all I need is Seasons 7 and 10 and I’ll have the whole series.

For the record I will be watching these fairly soon.  Even though I can’t recall seeing any of Season 7 and only a handful of episodes from Seasons 8 thru 10 I know enough to dive into these without having to wait to get the seventh season.  I’m looking forward to it too.  My feeling is that these will go down much better now that the series has been over for well over a year now and all of the problems I had with it are firmly in the past.  I’ll let you know if this is the case.

X-Mas 2012 C X-Mas 2012 BRachel also got me a nice shirt and sleep pants set.  Technically they aren’t an according to Hoyle set and were bought at two different stores but she thought they would look good together and so they are mine.  These will be my, “It’s really cold today” lounging clothes.

And that is pretty much it.  A modest haul but a haul nonetheless.  As always my wife got me some great stuff and most of the presents were Superman related.  I hope everyone had a good holiday and got everything they wanted as well.

Normal service resumes tomorrow.

More to follow…

CHRISTMAS 2012

Back in 2008 I made a post around Christmas time pertaining to this plate.  It is a bit…raw in terms of humor but I thought it might be fun to post it again and maybe make a tradition of it.  Oddly enough it is a tradition I have stuck to over the years.

Enjoy and know that I am probably going to Hell for his.

Superman has a rather pleasant look on his face and is inviting Batman to come in.  Secretly he’s thinking, “Great Rao, Bruce, get that batarang out of your ass and join the party.”

Why is Plastic Man giving Hal Jordan a back rub?

Plastic Man is also checking out Superman’s behind.  It’s why he wears the sunglasses, by the way.  That way he can just stare and stare and no one will notice.

Hawkman is not having a good time because Hawkman NEVER has a good time.

Hawkgirl is about five seconds from telling Carter that he needs to stop being such an ass and have a good time or so help her Ra she is leaving him and shaking up with Green Arrow.  She doesn’t care that Green Arrow is with Dinah because secretly Dinah’s into that kind of thing and Hawkgirl knows this.

Wonder Woman is enjoying herself because the pagan nature of the Christmas tree appeals to her upbringing.

Aquaman really wants to ask Zatana out.  Zatana doesn’t even know he’s alive.

Zatana…I really have nothing here.  Zatana is just having a good time and misses her Dad.  I mean he’s dead, right?  Has DC retconned that yet?

Captain Marvel doesn’t get any of the jokes that Ollie tells, but he laughs anyway so he doesn’t look like a dork.

Barry so wants to call him out on that.

Ollie is secretly thinking how awesome it would be to bag Hawkgirl and Black Canary at the same time and be part of a Pretty Bird Sandwich.

Dinah wants to leave Ollie for Hawkgirl.

What…in the hell…is Red Tornado drinking?

J’onn is on his fifth Manhattan and is getting to be a bit of a jerk.

Batman is thinking about how he is an orphan because Batman is ALWAYS thinking about the fact that he is an orphan and everyone wants to tell him to knock that crap off but he has those files on how to kill them so they keep quiet and Batman really, really likes that.

MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYONE!

YOUTUBE TUESDAY – CHRISTMAS WITH THE KENTS

Welcome back to YouTube Tuesday, the day of the week where I get to be really lazy and instead of posting anything of substance I distract you with a shiny video.  With Christmas fast approaching (it’s only three weeks away now) I am in a holiday mood.  This time out I found a video that compiles all of the Christmas at the Kents aspect of the Justice League second season episode “Comfort and Joy”.

More to follow…

CHRISTMAS 2011: THE HAUL

(We interrupt our regular programming to bring you pictures that prove that my wife is amazing and knows me all to well.  The Doomsday coverage continues in the next post.  For now sit back, relax and check out the awesome stuff I got for Christmas this year.)

Gong back to our very first Christmas together (when she bought me a bunch of the Kay-Bee exclusive JLA action figures) my wife Rachel has managed to find me cool comic book related presents.  Last year she tracked down a lot of neat stuff that were equal parts stuff I wanted and stuff I didn’t even know existed.  This year…this year she outdid herself.

Bring on the pictures!

At Rachel’s suggestion we have recently “gone green” at least in terms of carrying our own shopping bags when we head to the store.  Rachel recently bought some pagan and witchy related bags for herself so she decided to get me some of my own by decorating and/or making them.

That last one is very impressive.  It is a small backpack that she made out of a Superman bed sheet.  Because she’s talented like that.

Go below the cut for more pictures.

Continue reading “CHRISTMAS 2011: THE HAUL”

MERRY NON-DOOMSDAY CHRISTMAS!

Back in 2008 I made a post around Christmas time pertaining to this plate.  It is a bit…raw in terms of humor but it is now a tradition so here we go.

Enjoy and know that I am probably going to Hell for his.

Superman has a rather pleasant look on his face and is inviting Batman to come in.  Secretly he’s thinking, “Great Rao, Bruce, stop being such a mopey S.O.B and join the party.”

Why is Plastic Man giving Hal Jordan a back rub?

Plastic Man is also checking out Superman’s behind.  It’s why he wears the sunglasses, by the way.  That way he can just stare and stare and no one will notice.

Hawkman is not having a good time because Hawkman NEVER has a good time.  (Apologies to my friend Luke on this one.)

Hawkgirl is about five seconds from telling Carter that he needs to get the mace out of his ass and have a good time or so help her Ra she is leaving him and shaking up with Green Arrow.  She doesn’t care that Green Arrow is with Dinah because secretly Dinah’s into that kind of thing and Hawkgirl knows this.

Wonder Woman is enjoying herself because the pagan nature of the Christmas tree appeals to her upbringing.

Aquaman really wants to ask Zatana out.  Zatana doesn’t even know he’s alive.

Zatana…I really have nothing here.  Zatana is just having a good time and misses her Dad.  I mean he’s dead, right?  Has DC retconned that yet?

Captain Marvel doesn’t get any of the jokes that Ollie tells, but he laughs anyway so he doesn’t look like a dork.

Barry so wants to call him out on that.

Ollie is secretly thinking how awesome it would be to bag Hawkgirl and Black Canary at the same time and be part of a Pretty Bird Sandwich.

Dinah wants to leave Ollie for Hawkgirl.

What…in the hell…is Red Tornado drinking?

J’onn is on his fifth Manhattan and is getting to be a bit of a jerk.

Batman is thinking about how he is an orphan at Christmas time.  Because Batman is ALWAYS thinking about the fact that he is an orphan and everyone wants to tell him to knock that crap off but he has those files on how to kill them so they keep quiet and Batman really, really likes that.

MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYONE!

CHRISTMAS 2008 – DAY EIGHT

Want to know why there was no posting here yesterday?

The wife and I trimmed the tree.

As you can see it is a geeky affair and we love it.  Our tradition is to trim the tree while watching Christmas specials and movies and this time was no exception.  We watched Mickey’s Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of Mouse, Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas, Jeff Dunham’s Very Special Christmas Special, Twas the Night Before Christmas, Mickey’s Twice Upon a Christmas and we started The Muppet Christmas Carol.  Egg nog was consumed, by me at least because Rachel hates the stuff.  More than anything we had fun and the holidays have officially begun at the Fortress of Baileytude.

Here’s one of my favorite comic book related ornaments.

Actually this picture contains three of my favorite ornaments.  First there is the Superman ornament Rachel and I bought at the Warner Bros. Store years ago, which I think is absolutely awesome.  If you look up and to the right (as opposed to back and to the left) you’ll see Mike from Monsters, Inc. and further up from him is the little girl from that film who was named Boo.  Since Rachel and I have a little dog named Boo this seemed like a natural ornament set to buy.

Here’s a blurry picture of the tree.

I wish that one had turned out better, but we likes the tree anyway.

Things return to normal tomorrow…hopefully.

More to follow…

CHRISTMAS 2011 – DAY SIX

Well it was bound to happen.

I ran out of time today, folks.  So the next Christmas review will have to wait another day.  Until then here is the cover to DC Special #21 a.k.a. DC Super Star Holiday Special.  I got this book for a song recently and the cover is beautiful.  So enjoy this today and the reviews will continue tomorrow.

More to follow…