Monday, December 18, 2017

Action Comics #762 (2000)

Action Comics #762 (February, 2000)
"All I Want For Christmas"
Writer - Joe Kelly
Pencillers - German Garcia & Kano
Inker - Joe Rubenstein
Colorists - Glenn Whitmore & WildStormFX
Letterer - John Costanza
Editors - Maureen McTigue, Eddie Berganza & Mike Carlin
Cover Price: $1.99

Oh, c'mon!  Yesterday I got bit by the rhyming bug... and today we've gotta deal with the Demon?!

Even worse... Etrigan Claus... howsabout Satan Claus?!


We open on New Year's Day 2000... but only briefly.  This isn't a Y2K story, nonono, this is (what I'm assuming was) a most unwelcome break in that senses-shattering storyline to see how Lois and Clark spent the last Christmas of the twentieth century.  Ya see, Lois was feeling a little "humbuggy" because she can never compete with her super-spouse when it comes to buying Christmas gifts.  So, after a bit of very cliche arguing (Lois stopped just shy of calling Christmas a "Hallmark Holiday") Clark agrees to taking a "no-powers" Christmas-shopping trip.

Clark has a run-in with some very cliche Christmas shoppers... and an older woman who can see he's clearly out of his element gives him a candy cane.  Elsewhere (in the same mall), Lois is also shopping... and, has a run-in with Encantadora (a new and seldom-used character) shopping for her little brother, a big Superman fan.

Deeper inside the mall, Clark notices some commotion over in the area where kids can take pictures with Santa and decides to check it out.  Who should he find there, but... Etrigan the Demon?!  If you're thinking "Well, that's pretty random"... I'd say, you're right.

Clark pops outta sight for a second to "Supe up", and returns to find out just what Etrigan is up to.  Ya see, the last time they ran into one another Etrigan was trying to freeze Hell (part of Day of Judgment)... so, the Demon ain't exactly the most trustworthy fella around this time.  Etrigan, a being of magic, has little trouble punching Superman straight into orbit.

With the Man of Steel out of the way, the Demon spies Encantadora... who has changed into a fairly trashy Santa outfit herself.  She has this magic mist power... and she uses it in attempt to, I dunno... seduce the Demon?  This makes Etrigan very happy... but not for the reason 'Dora hopes.

Meanwhile at the Moon... Superman recovers from the punch.  As luck would have it, he landed right outside the Justice League's Watchtower... and interrupted Plastic Man and Green Lantern trimming the tree.  After a brief exchange, he heads back to Earth.

Upon return, he is greeted by Encantadora... no longer in her bombastic bod, instead a little ghost girl?!  All around the mall, he can see that Etrigan has made it so the patrons will be haunted by manifestations of their own "inner" demons... and one lady in particular will be attacked by the Afrin Nose.

We shift back to join Lois as she beelines it toward the exit.  She finds herself attacked by a strange tiny version of Lex Luthor.  Ya see, around this time Lois dun a bad thing... she's keeping a secret for the domed-one, and it's sorta eating her up inside.  A little Demon-dust (mixed with Encantadora mist) is all she needs for the guilt to be given flesh.

Superman and Etrigan resume their battle, and the baddie explains that this is the one day of the year where the Demon form can freely roam without Jason Blood popping into his consciousness... and so, (somehow) with the aid of the magic mists he hopes to rid himself of his human half for good!  Er, okay.  He also feels as though bringing the people's "inner demons" out, he was doing them a favor... in seeing what they're struggling with, they'll be able to overcome and heal.  Superman's all "that's not the way it works, pal." but gets knocked on his butt before he can say much more.  Dora rushes in and tells Superman that he's gotta ixnay the istmay if he wants any hope of winning the day.

And so, he inhales every last bit of it.  Ya know how Dora looks like a little ghost girl?  I guess that's how she sees herself... and under the influence of the mist, projects that visage to the world.  Well, when Superman sucks it down, he appears to the world as... a farmer.  Like a giant glasses-less Clark Kent.  With a pouch full of emotions, he "seeds" Metropolis back to normal.  He then exhales the remaining mist into outer space.

Upon return, Etrigan's all "screw this" and leaves... though, he promises to be back in one year's time.

Superman then sees a chilly Encantadora on a rooftop.  He slings his cape over her to warm her up.  She takes the opportunity to re-mistify... and vanish... with his cape.

We wind down with everything happily ever after.  Lois and Clark exchange their gifts and Encantadora had the perfect gift for her Superman-fan hermanito, in the form of Superman's actual cape.  We wrap with the Demon chuckling about what's about to happen in the Y2K story.



This was alright.  I'm not the biggest Demon fan... in fact, I usually find him quite boring.  Plus, I don't know a heckuva lot about La Encantadora other than this was like her second appearance (after first appearing in a Secret Files & Origins story), and that she was used very seldom going forward.

The entire story feels a bit convenient... but, ya know... we are talking about a Christmas issue of a superhero comic.  Not sure why the Demon was hanging out at the mall... did he know Encantadora would be coming?  Did he know what her powers were?  Did he ever explain how her powers could help him rid himself of the Jason Blood persona?  What happened to the actual Mall Santa Claus?  Was Jason Blood the Mall Santa?  So many questions!  Not enough interest to find any answers.

What worked about this issue for me were the bits with Lois... well, the later bits with Lois.  I appreciate that her having covered for Luthor is something that sticks with her... something that haunts her.  Her "Bah Humbugginess" was a bit trite... especially with the well-worn "Christmas is too commercial" soundbites.  Though, I suppose we can attribute her lack of Christmas spirit to her overwhelming guilt.  Maybe having helped one of the baddest men on the planet kinda squashes one's desire for eggnog and tinsel.

The art here was really not to my liking.  It has all the turn-of-the-century trappings that I sorta-kinda dig... but done all wrong.  I can get on board with exaggerated features... Ed McGuinness draws Superman with a tremendously large barrel chest... Humberto Ramos draws giant feet... both of those work for me.  Here in this issue, however... there was exaggeration, but really only in Superman's chin and jawline.  Made him look like he had a cartoon anvil for a head... almost expected to see "100 Tons" written on his cheeks.  Didn't hate it... just didn't appreciate it as much as I'd hoped.

Overall... I'd say this is unfortunately one you can skip and not miss all that much.  This was initially squeezed in between two chapters of the Y2K storyline... and I gotta assume it was a pretty unwelcome break from the action (pun!) back then.  It really doesn't add a whole lot... and, I figure this was just a way for Joe Kelly to feature his La Encantadora character... and attempt to give her a bit more depth.  Fair enough... but it's still not terribly interesting.


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On the Fifth Day of Christmas on Infinite Earths, I give to you Action Comics #762!  Young Justice #40, Superman: The Man of Steel #109, Green Lantern: Larfleeze Christmas Special, and a Red Hood and the Outlaws Annual #2 Review.


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