Christmas With the Super-Heroes #2 (Superman)
Writer/Pencils – Paul Chadwick
Inks – John Nyberg
Letters – John Costanza
Colors – Tom McCraw
Editor – Mark Waid
Ho, Ho, Ho, friends… welcome to one of the longest traditions we’ve kept here at the humble blog. It’s the fourth annual Christmas on Infinite Earths… in July! Fourth Annual? Yeesh, where does the time go?!
I hope you all don’t mind a little break from the hustle and bustle of Action Comics Weekly… I know I’m enjoying the break. I also had a lot of fun personalizing the covers… I hope you’ll all dig them! Over the course of this week, we will be looking at one chapter per day from Christmas With the Super-Heroes #2 from 1989… then on the seventh day, I’ll put together a compilation post for folks who only visit weekly. There are six chapters, so this won’t be all that much different from our normal “programming”.
If you’re interested in seeing my thoughts on Christmas With the Super-Heroes #1 (1988), I covered that one back in 2016… it might still be my longest, wordiest post ever! If you wanna check out any of my Christmas-related ramblings, click the banner below… I think we’ve discussed over 50 DC Comics Holiday tales.
Now, before we get into it… What’s the over-under on all six of these stories happening on Christmas Eve?
Our story opens… on an Eve around or on Christmas. It’s snowing heavily, and there is a motorist stranded on the side of the bend of a road. He tries flagging down passers-by, however, nobody stops. Deciding he can no longer stand the cold, the man reenters his car… loads a pistol, and writes an apologetic suicide note. Before he can act, however… there’s a knocking on his window.
It is, of course, Superman. He asks if it’s okay for him to hop in the passenger seat, and begins warming the fella up with his heat vision. After that, he turns his attention to thawing the frozen engine. He discovers that the V-Belt is shredded, which has cut off the power supply… which ran down the battery. He then asks the man about, ya know… the loaded gun.
The man tells him he just couldn’t take the cold anymore… compounded with the fact that no one would stop to help him was enough to push him over the edge. Superman informs him that, since he’d broken down at the bend of the road, passers-by couldn’t see him until it was too late… and most wouldn’t dare to stomp on their brakes on these icy roads. Superman also realizes that… offing yourself for breaking down on the side of the road is a flimsy excuse at best. The other shoe drops, and the man reveals that he and his wife just split up.
He doesn’t go into much detail, not that it matters much. Superman asks what he was planning to do for Christmas… to which, the fella doesn’t really have much of a clue. When asked about family, he mentions an estranged daughter. Superman prods him into extending an olive branch, citing how most children would love to reconnect with a lost parent. The fella promises to think about it.
Superman finishes charging the man’s battery, however, before he leaves… jots down some directions on the back of the suicide note. They are directions to a family who lives nearby who would love to share the Holidays with him. The man squirms a bit, before agreeing to pay them a visit.
Superman wishes the man a Merry Christmas before taking his leave, and our story wraps up with the man exiting off the freeway… into Smallville.
This was very good.
A very low-key Superman story, where we get a look at how he can take a moment and save/change the life of a single man. It was a nice character study. Superman listened to the man… offered him help and inspiration. Calling him out that his initial reasons for pulling the trigger were flimsy, in order to dig a bit deeper to find out exactly what might be ailing him.
This is the way I’d imagine Superman would handle such a crisis. I mean, we’ve seen the other way it could go when we read Superman: Grounded. Here, it’s all about looking on the bright side… it’s about looking for slivers of hope in the darkness. Even the possibility of reconnecting with an estranged relative might prove to be enough to help this man carry on. Superman knows all the buttons to push to illustrate that so long is there hope, there’s still a reason to carry on. Very well done.
Paul Chadwick, who we’ve unfortunately not had much of an opportunity to discuss here on the blog, turns in some great work… both in words and pictures. It’s a shame we didn’t get all that much more DC work out of him. In doing our research for the Hal Jordan’s Action Comics series of Cosmic Treadmill Episodes, we learned that Paul was (reportedly) originally tapped to provide art for the Captain Atom feature in Blockbuster/Comics Cavalcade Weekly. It’s too bad that didn’t come to pass. It’s, admittedly, been a minute since I last read his Concrete… but, there was a time during the mid-late 2000’s where I was eating it up. I’m probably due for a revisit… if only I could find those 25th-30th hours in a day.
Overall, a very nice little story… even if you’re not a sucker for Christmas comics (like I am), this one is definitely worth a look.
EDIT: Some context for this story, provided by its creator: Paul Chadwick!
Tomorrow: A very Batty Christmas!