Christmas With the Super-Heroes (Flash & Green Lantern)
“An Old-Fashioned Christmas”
Writer – Bill Loebs
Pencils – Colleen Doran
Inks – Ty Templeton
Letters – Albert DeGuzman
Colors – Tom McCraw
Editor – Mark Waid
Here’s one I’d considered just calling “Christmas with the Justice League”… even mocked up a JL cover image… but thought better of it at the eleventh hour. This isn’t really a Justice League story… this is about two old friends spending Christmas together, and trying to help a new friend capture some of that Christmas magic. I hope our little mid-Summer excursion into the holly-jolly is helping you all find some Christmas Magic too!
Let’s get into it!
We open, and it’s Christmas at the JLA Satellite. Not only that, it’s a pre-Crisis Christmas, because our featured players here are Hal and Barry. The latter is on monitor duty, and the former is keeping him company, while lamenting the fact that Ollie bought him yet another copy of Das Kapital… I think I’d feel the same way. Anyhoo, the pair become restless and have a hankering for an “old-fashioned Christmas”, and so… Hal zaps them to a quiet burg where they might be able to find one. Naturally, this doesn’t quite work out the way they’d hoped.
Just then, they come across a man being mugged. After making short work of the baddies, Flash and Green Lantern are introduced to C.B. Fenster (yes, that C.B. Fenster… apparently). C.B. tells them they should’ve just let him die… which begs the question as to why he was calling out for help not four panels earlier. Anyhoo, this coot has issued a challenge to his hoi poloi pals: He’ll give five-million bucks to anyone who can prove that Santa Claus exists.
Well, that’s all our fellas needed to hear. Before we know it, Fenster is decked out in red, and flying above the city in a one-Flash construct sleigh.
Ya see, Flash, GL, and C.B. are going to go all around the world giving gifts to all the good girls and boys. Their first stop… well, it goes alright, but our Santa is definitely lacking in the “Ho, Ho, Ho” department… he even makes a child sign for a teddy bear!
Their next stop is in a rather posh neighborhood, where Santa Fenster meets a newly-single mother who is struggling to put together the bicycles her late-husband bought for their children. He offers her a hand… and might be starting to learn a thing or two about “good will toward man”.
Another stop… I think we’re in Germany now… and Santa meets a very lonely guy, who is just looking for someone to talk to. Fenster hands over a teddy bear… which, I suppose is better than a sharp stick in the eye.
After hitting every house (on the planet), Hal and Barry return Fenster to where they found him (I think…). They came up one house short… ya see, this one family… the Harpers, they just weren’t able to track them down. Their last known address was just a “burned-out house”. The heroes apologize for wasting the millionaire’s time, and leave.
Fenster notices a nearby car, and knocks on the window… ya see, this is where the Harper are now living. Mr. Harper exits the car and tells C.B. about some of his family’s recent struggles… while assuring him that they’ll be okay. Fenster asks Harper to let him help.
Here’s the thing… Fenster himself was the Santa he’d been searching for. The millionaire goes to hand over a five-million dollar check, which Hal refuses. Yeah, that doesn’t seem in character. I guess Christmas will make people act in strange ways.
We wrap up with Fenster throwing a big party for all the pals he just met… and Hal wishing Barry a Happy Hanukkah?! I swear, I never knew that Barry was Jewish! I guess that’s why he gets stuck with Monitor Duty on Christmas!
Sometimes, especially of late with our Action Comics Weekly “duties”, when I find myself reading an “anthology-length” story, I kinda get lost in it. I forget that I’m reading an eight-pager, and by the time I’m done, I could swear that I’d just read an issue-length epic. This is certainly one of those times.
So, whatta we got here? Two old pals trying to have themselves an “old-fashioned” Christmas. Worth noting, I don’t think this story is actually titled that, but it’s what the internet calls it… and that’s good enough for this guy.
What they find is a fella whose lost that “Christmas feeling”. He’s a rich guy, so naturally, doesn’t know anything about the “real world”… and so, the heroes take him on a (literal) world tour so he can ultimately discover that there’s a little Santa Claus in each of us. It’s cliche, yes… but, it works… and I quite enjoyed it.
It was, at times, touching… also, a bit funny. Can’t ask for much more than that for this type of story. Art comes to us from Colleen Doran, and despite the Harper children looking more like the offspring of Terry Long, it’s really very nice. I’d recommend seeking this story out.
Tomorrow: Probably the story of the issue. It’s a Wonderful Life… for Deadman (and a very special guest)