DCU Holiday Bash! #1 (New Gods)
“A Highfather Christmas”
Writer – Walter Simonson
Art – Sal Buscema
Colors – Lee Loughridge
Letters – John Costanza
Editors – Mike Carlin & Darren Vincenzo
The New Gods, eh? Hmm.
This one might be a bit tough… ya see, I think I might be the only dude around who, either: doesn’t care a lick about the Fourth Worlders… or, is the only dude who will actually admit to that.
I’ll give ’em Mister Miracle… I do enjoy him. But, Highfather? Orion? This… might be a toughie.
Special Note before we continue. You might notice that the photos below have a bit of a yellowish tinge to ’em. Ya see, I wrote this piece using only the light from a Christmas Tree… so, just consider it “mood lighting”. See… it’s intentionally off-putting!
We open on… say it with me, Christmas Eve! We’re in New York City, and Highfather is just brimming with Holiday Cheer. Orion, on the other hand, just ain’t feeling it… though, it’s kind of his gimmick to be a Grinch. As the continue through the hustle and bustle of last-minute shoppers and what-not, they find themselves swept into a department store by a sweaty little businessman who has mistaken them for his shop’s Santa and Elf! While Orion would much rather just club this goof over his head and be done with it, Highfather suggests that they’re here for a reason… and, after all, this fella appears to be in need.
Once inside, the Manager gets a good gander at the Fourth Worlders and he’s none too pleased. Highfather looks like a bit too much like a “Hippie Abe Lincoln”… and Orion is far too tall to be an Elf. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have the time to be choosy… so, he just lets them hop into costume.
Highfather shoos him away so they can prepare… and assures him that he has nothing to worry about. With a tap of his crooked cane, the big man is able to transform he and Orion into… well, Santa Claus and an Elf!
Orion’s all “screw this Elf business!” and has Mother Box contort his face a little bit, so he can become “Santa’s Gnome”. Do, uh… Gnomes have higher stats than Elves? From a little bit of AD&D research, Gnomes were added to the rotation of races as an alternative to Elves (also, Dwarves and whatever the heck a Halfling is)… so, maybe he’s just being choosy. Or, ya know, maybe Gnomes are known to scowl a bit more. Whatever the case, I’m not sure I’d want my kids playing with any toys this creep tinkers up.
Highfather and Orion, now fully dressed and “in character” teleport right onto the stage where the children have lined up to meet them. Our Department Store Manager really isn’t sure quite what to think…
A young girl named Deirdre hops up on Santa’s lap, and whispers in his ear that she’d really like a doll for Christmas. And so, Orion reaches into Santa’s bag and… procures that very doll Deirdre desires. Deirdre’s mother begins to cry… and shares with Santa that this had been an especially difficult year, and that she wouldn’t be able to afford any gifts for her daughter. Santa gives her a wink, and assures her that miracles can happen.
The Manager looks on, and wonders just where “Santa” is getting all these toys. He worries that he’ll have to reconcile this in his inventory system before the night is out. Just then, Deirdre and her mother approach to thank him for making this the greatest Christmas ever. Our man(ager) is kinda dumbstruck… gobsmacked, even! All the while, Santa and his Gnome continue handing out just the right gifts to all the boys and girls.
As the night draws to a close, the Manager heads over to our duo and… ya know, asks where all these toys are coming from. Highfather’s all “duh, I’m Santa Claus”… which is probably a bit easier to swallow than, “duh, I’ve got Mother Box technology up in here”. Orion then reaches into the bag, and pulls out a gift for the Manager himself!
With that, Highfather and Orion teleport away. Just then, a distressed fat man rushes into the store. Why, it’s Horace Applegate… the fella who was supposed to play Santa Claus that evening! Our Manager is even more perplexed… bamboozled, even!
And in that moment, our Manager, Mr. Peasley’s heart grew three sizes. So overcome with the Christmas Spirit is he, that he doesn’t even yell at the late-Applegate. He even assures him that he’ll still be paid for the evening. Peasley then sends his staff home to be with their families, and wishes them all the Merriest of Christmases. See, Highfather Claus was right… miracles can happen!
Okay, not gonna lie… I absolutely loved this!
Despite the New Gods, Fourth Worldians, and all that jazz being kind of a “hard sell” for me, this story here was a ton of fun. Was it sappy? Was it a bit hokey? Was it somewhat syrupy sweet? Yes, yes, double yes… but, it’s a Christmas story, and if the Hallmark Channel’s taught us anything over the past decade-plus, sometimes that’s all you need!
I came into this fully prepared to hate it… and to tell y’all about just how much it stunk. Imagine my surprise when we got about three pages in, and I realized that… not only did I love it, but I also didn’t want it to end! Now, this isn’t going to make me rush up to my longboxes and dig out any piece of Fourth World nonsense that had made its way into my collection… but, as a one-off visit for Christmas… I think I can safely say, you could do far worse.
If we break this down to it’s beats… it’s just a Christmas story, where the one old fella with a beard might just be the actual Santa Claus (at least to those in the story). Nothing we haven’t seen or read before… but still with enough charm, and enough tugging at our heartstrings that it made a bit of an impact on me.
I was very happy with this one, and it gets a solid recommendation if you’re looking to add another short-story to your Holiday reading list. Art comes from Sal Buscema, who I always associate with Marvel Comics. In fact, in my 1,400+ days blogging here… this is the first time we’ve covered a story featuring his pencils! Crazy stuff. For what it’s worth, I definitely enjoyed the art as well. Really good stuff all around! High recommendation (if you’ve got the constitution for “syrupy sweetness”!
Tomorrow: Not a creature was stirring, not even a… Cat?!