Young Justice #40 (February, 2002)
“The Night Before Doomsday”
Writer – Peter David
Penciller – Todd Nauck
Inker – Larry Stucker
Colorist – Jason Wright
Separations – Digital Chameleon
Letterer – Ken Lopez
Assistant Editor – Tom Palmer, Jr.
Editor – Eddie Berganza
Cover Price: $2.50
Ho, ho, ho… who’s ready to read a comic, that’s not really a comic? Today we’re going to chat up an issue of Young Justice which is more an illustrated riff on T’was the Night Before Christmas… and one in which I think we just might actually see Santa Claus!
Let’s get right to it!
We open with Robin in the bathroom dealing with the aftermath of having eaten Arrowette’s cooking. When suddenly the rest of Young Justice are alerted via their monitors that something is headed their way… could it be Santa? No, probably not.
Their first instinct is to call in the “big guns”, that being one of the teams whose names begin with “Justice” rather than end with it. Turns out, they’re all off planet… or just plain off-duty this crazy Christmas Eve. Worth mentioning we get perhaps the only mention of the Inferior Five in turn-of-the-century DC Comics here! Also, the Suicide Squad… in between their bouts of relevancy.
Young Justice realizes that saving the world is up to them… so they hop in their cycle and take to the skies. Wonder Girl tries tracking the menace, and they find themselves being introduced to the baddie himself… Mordrek of the Great Khund Alliance. Oh yeah, him. He’s cooking up a doomsday (not him) device, in the form of a rather large Earth-smashing meteor/bomb/thing.
The kids set their phasers to boom… and begin blasting away at the gigundus flaming head-meteor… but it’s to no avail.
When all hope is lost, the gang hears a bell… perhaps this is Santa, boy would that be swell. Ahem, sorry… I promised myself I’d try not to rhyme here.
Anyhoo, Santa flew in, right into the meteor’s path… you’d figure the elves would have better air-traffic control, maybe they’re just bad at math. Dangit… did it again!
As it turns out, the crash did the trick… when the dust settles, there was no sign of Mordrek. Hmm… can’t seem to help myself. Unfortunately for our heroes, Santa’s gone too… the reindeer have turned into a torrent of goo!
Suddenly Santa’s sack fell on Bart… the Young Justice kids know they’ve now got to play a part. With Santa kayoed before delivering the toys… who’s going to treat all the good girls and boys?
Why Young Justice of course will take the gig… if only they’d realized it gonna be so big. Instead of delivering the goods in a single night… this gift-giving struggle proved a two-month-long fight.
The kids didn’t realize there’d be back-end stuff… like how dealing with customer service might be tough! Folks were annoyed by mistakes and delays… and our poor heroes were left in a desperate haze. Two months to deliver… would give anyone pause, perhaps it’s best left to old Santa Claus.
Now… come on, just how fun was that?
I probably haven’t picked this issue up in… well, fifteen years… and I gotta admit, when I opened it and saw the “gimmick”, I sorta groaned… even considered skipping it altogether. I thought back to last year when I covered that Christmas issue of Beautiful Stories for Ugly Children… and thought this might turn out similar to that.
I’m glad I actually gave this a full read though, as I found myself smiling through the whole thing. Not only does this fall in sorta-kinda my DC-Wheelhouse (Bart as Impulse, Kon-El as Superboy, Cassie still wearing the black wig), but it was just a heckuva lot of fun.
Sure… Santa “dies” here, however with the caveat that he’ll be reborn the following year. See, it’s not hard to end a over-the-top tragic story with a flicker of hope! If only more folks wrote that way comics would be a whole lot more fun.
Let’s talk art… Todd Nauck was one of my favorite turn-of-the-century artists. He strikes the perfect balance between comic-booky and cartoony… he’s really quite excellent! Can’t leave out the wonderful softer pastel colors from Jason Wright. It fits the tone of the story perfectly… this really looks like something that could be in a storybook. I think the only way it could feel more “Christmas Special-y” is if they used claymation figures!
My only complaint would be… DC’s gimmick covers the month this came out. I mean, it’s a good cover… maybe a great one, but… c’mon, wouldn’t you have loved to see what kinda cover Nauck and Company would’ve cooked up for a Christmas Special? This could’ve been a cover that could stand beside The TT’s Swingin’ Christmas Carol. I think if that were the case, this issue would get a whole lot more “play” this time of year. Instead, this gem is hidden behind a DC gimmick-month cover.
Overall… even though I spoiled the entire thing for you, I’d recommend adding this to your Christmas comics library. I think this could be a great annual read for folks of all ages as you count down the days until Christmas! This issue is available digitally.
On the Fourth Day of Christmas on Infinite Earths, I give to you Young Justice #40, Superman: The Man of Steel #109, Green Lantern: Larfleeze Christmas Special, and a Red Hood and the Outsiders Annual #2 Review.