DC COMICS CHRISTMAS/HOLIDAY SPECIALS

KC Carlson wearing a holiday hat

KC Carlson wearing a holiday hat


a KC COLUMN by KC Carlson

It seems that every December, various comic book companies issue special Christmas-related comic books (and even book collections). Marvel’s done a few, as have Image and a couple other indy publishers. In the old days, companies like Dell and Gold Key would offer special Christmas collections or adaptations of (hopefully) popular Christmas films.

But it often seems that DC is the king of Christmas comics. They’ve been publishing Christmas-related comic stories since the Golden Age of the 1940s, and — as you’re about to learn here — issuing regular collections (containing both reprints and brand-new stories) since 1975!

Not all of them are worth talking about — since they frequently reprint the same material over and over — so this is not a complete listing.

LET’S START WITH TREASURY FORMAT

For those who don’t remember, Treasury Format means those oversized giant editions that are the equivalent of coffee table books for comics. If you put two comics side-by-side and then rotate them a quarter turn, that’s treasury-sized.

Christmas With the Super-Heroes

Christmas With the Super-Heroes


Christmas With the Super-Heroes (1975) Treasury Edition #C-34, 80 pages

This contains stories with Silver Age Batman, Angel and the Ape (All-New!), Teen Titans, Golden Age Shazam (uh… Captain Marvel), and Superman, with a 1975 DC Superheroes calendar in the centerfold! Other special features include a Sheldon Mayer “Write Your Own Comic Page!!” (art and balloons, but no dialog provided), two pages of do-it-yourself Super Hero Christmas Cards, and a Santa’s Number Guessing Game with a number grid fixed in your favor. Wow! Cheating at Christmas time!

Probably most entertaining is the inside back cover’s “The Super-Villains Speak Out on Christmas” featuring Toyman, Mr. Mind, The Penguin, Lex Luthor, The Joker, and Captain Cold. Last, but not least, is Bizarro (and I better just quote him): “This remind me uv old Bizarro Chrismis pome: ‘Christmas cheer… Now am here… Excoose me while I scratch my ear! Unmerry Christmas, dummies!’” Ah, Bizarro… such a beautiful wordsmith…

Christmas With the Super-Heroes

Christmas With the Super-Heroes


Christmas With the Super-Heroes (1975) Treasury Edition #C-43, 56 pages

This was a follow-up edition the following year (confusingly labeled 1975 again) with reprinted Golden Age Superman and Wonder Woman stories, plus a Simon & Kirby Sandman story. Also, there’s a Silver Age House of Mystery tale (narrated by Cain, and illustrated by Berni Wrightson), and the classic Mike Friedrich/Neal Adams/Dick Giordano Batman tale “The Silent Night of the Batman” — which is reprinted again in this year’s DC Holiday Special 2017. (It’s just that good! Seriously… always in my Top 10 — and you’ll see it reprinted again and again.)

Special features in this Treasury include Christmas Greetings From the Super-Heroes! (which is pretty dumb, actually; today we’d call it clip art), a “Santa’s Scrambled Super-List“ by Bob Rozakis where you have to find not only superhero names, but members of the DC staff as well, and Sing Along With the Super-Heroes where somebody (probably Rozakis) got paid to re-type the lyrics to Away in a Manger, Jingle Bells, and other holiday classics. Also by Rozakis is a superhero maze where Santa delivers gifts to Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. Finally, Season Greetings From the DC Editors is written in a form of phony haiku. So if you ever wanted to read questionable short verse about Julius Schwartz, Murray Boltinoff, Joe Orlando, Joe Kubert, Gerry Conway, Dennis J. O’Neil, and E. Nelson Bridwell (many of whom are now deceased, except O’Neil and Conway), here’s your big chance!

COMIC-SIZED — WITH FLEXIBLE PAGE COUNTS

Christmas With the Super-Heroes #1

Christmas With the Super-Heroes #1


Christmas With the Super-Heroes #1 (1988), 96 pages. This all-reprint comic collects:

  • Batman in “Wanted: Santa Claus — Dead or Alive” from DC Comics Special Series #21 (1979)
  • Justice League in “The Man Who Murdered Santa Claus” from Justice League #110 (1974)
  • Teen Titans in “The TT’s Swinging Christmas Carol” from Teen Titans #13 (1968)
  • The Legion of Super-Heroes in “Star Light, Star Bright…” from DC Comics Special Series #21 (1979)
  • Superman in “Twas the Fright Before Christmas!” from DC Comics Presents #67 (1984)
  • and Batman in “The Silent Night of the Batman” (told ya!) from Batman #219 (1970).

 

Christmas With the Super-Heroes #2

Christmas With the Super-Heroes #2


Christmas With the Super-Heroes #2 (1988, but probably 1989), 64 pages. All new stories, including:

  • Superman in “Ex Machina” by Paul Chadwick and John Nyberg
  • Batman in “…And in the Depths” by Dave Gibbons and Gray Morrow
  • Wonder Woman in “Gifts” by Eric Shanower
  • Enemy Ace in “Silent Night” by John Byrne and Andy Kubert
  • The Flash and Green Lantern in an untitled story by Bill Loebs, Coleen Doran, and Ty Templeton
  • Deadman and a mystery character in “Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot” by Alan Brennert and Dick Giordano.

That last one is another great story, but you’ll seldom see it reprinted, because it affected DC continuity (as it was then) in a controversial manner. Nevertheless, it also captures the true meaning of the holidays, and it makes this collection DC’s best Christmas comic. (If you don’t like crying at Christmas, pass it by, though, because if you recognize the unnamed blonde, you’ll miss her too.)

Lobo Paramilitary Christmas Special

Lobo Paramilitary Christmas Special


In the Modern Era, many of DC’s Holiday Specials focused on one or two characters at a time. Probably most incongruous were the two holiday specials featuring Lobo (because there’s a guy you really want to spend the holidays with!). The Lobo Paramilitary Christmas Special (1991) is by Lobo-dudes Keith Giffen, Alan Grant, and Simon Bisley, and it may have something to do about the time the Easter Bunny hired Lobo to “off” Santa Claus. I don’t know for sure… The copy I tried to read spontaneously burst into flames the second I opened it! I’ve been told that the story is actually “more offensive than Christmas usually is.” I think that I was told that by Giffen himself, but you know how he is… Says here it’s 52 pages, but I bet it’s really only 48. Stupid Cover Counters…

Authority Vs. Lobo: Jingle Hell

Authority Vs. Lobo: Jingle Hell


This was later followed up by the Authority/Lobo Christmas Special (2004) again by Keith Giffen, Alan Grant, and Simon Bisley The long time between issues may be explained by various jail sentences and other things I’m not supposed to know about. This is supposedly “the crossover that no one expected!” and it may actually follow up on plot threads from the original Lobo Christmas Special. (Like I would know…) Also, Jenny Quantum gets really upset. Uh, oh… 48 all-new pages and for Mature Readers (like the first part was also). Um… aren’t most Lobo readers immature…?

Pinky and The Brain Christmas Special

Pinky and The Brain Christmas Special


There have also been Holiday Specials devoted to the Animaniacs (1994), Pinky and the Brain (1996), Gen 13 (A Christmas Caper, featuring “L’il Gen 13”) (2000) and the Green Lantern/Larfleeze Christmas Special (2010) (featuring the Orange Lantern Corps). To date, I have not read any of these, and I sorta doubt I actually own them.

CHRISTMAS GETS ANIMATED

Batman Adventures Holiday Special

Batman Adventures Holiday Special


There’s even an Animated Holiday Special! The Batman Adventures Holiday Special from 1995 features five short stories about the holidays. You’ll see stuff you seldom see — like Harvey Bullock teaming with Batgirl against Clayface. Plus there’s “The Harley and the Ivy”, a tale of Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy in which the duo kidnaps millionaire Bruce Wayne so they can go on an unlimited shopping spree! Wonder how that turns out?

The Joker wonders “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” and Batman and Commissioner Gordon take time out to share some New Year’s cheer in “Should Old Acquaintance Be Forgot”. Finally, there’s the poignant Mr. Freeze story “White Christmas”, illustrated by artist Glen Murakami. Stories are by Paul Dini with Bruce Timm and Ronnie Del Carmen. Art is by Bruce Timm, Ronnie Del Carmen, Kevin Altieri & Butch Lukic, and Dan Riba, under a spooky Mr. Freeze cover by Timm. An awesome issue of this outstanding series!

THREE ISSUES AND OUT

Christmas anthologies returned to DC starting in 1997 with three issues of DCU Holiday Bash. This is around the point that you’d sometimes see a Hanukkah story included as well, so the titles changed to include more than just Christmas.

DCU Holiday Bash #1

DCU Holiday Bash #1


Issue #1 has stories starring Superman, Catwoman, Green Lantern, The Flash, Orion & Highfather, The Demon, and a short Batman (with Alfred) tale. Features work by Dennis O’Neil, Walter Simonson, Sal Buscema, Mark Waid, Brian Augustyn, Jim Aparo, Ty Templeton, Michael Jan Friedman, Paul Ryan, Dick Giordano, Graham Nolan, Josef Rubenstein, Kevin Nowlan, and many others.

The 1998 edition stars Green Lantern/Green Arrow, Batman, Darkseid, Black Lightning, Superman, the Justice Society, Sgt. Rock, and Nightwing & Oracle by folks including Howard Chaykin, Rick Burchett, Chuck Dixon, Devin Grayson, Dan Jurgens, Brett Breeding, Russ Heath, Brian Stelfreeze, Ty Templeton, and more!

1999 brings stories about Superman/Batman, Wonder Woman, The Joker, Bat Lash, Impulse, Robin, and The Slab by Sergio Aragones, Karl Kesel, Chuck Dixon, Scott Beatty, Mark Waid & Devin Grayson, Craig Rousseau, Damian Scott, Joe Staton, Dave Taylor, and still more!

Obviously, I didn’t find these particularly memorable, but it’s a nice idea for a recurring series.

DC CHRISTMAS IN A PAPERBACK

A DC Universe Christmas

A DC Universe Christmas


I’m not sure how available it still is, but in 2000, DC published a 160-page trade paperback collection of 17 of the best DC holiday stories, dating back to the Golden Age, called A DC Universe Christmas. Highlights here include:

  • The Teen Titans in “A Swingin’ Christmas Carol” by Bob Haney and Nick Cardy, from Teen Titans #13 (1968)
  • Batman in “Wanted: Santa Claus—Dead or Alive!” by Denny O’Neil and Frank Miller, from Super-Star Holiday Special (DC Special Series #21) (1979)
  • The Legion of Super-Heroes in “Star Light, Star Bright…Farthest Star I See Tonight!” by Paul Levitz and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, from Super-Star Holiday Special (DC Special Series #21)
  • Bat Lash in “An Eye for Detail” by Chuck Dixon and Quique Alcatena, from DCU Holiday Bash III (1999)
  • Enemy Ace in “Silent Night” by John Byrne, from Christmas With the Super-Heroes #2 (1988)
  • and “The Harley and the Ivy” by Ronnie Del Carmen with Paul Dini, from The Batman Adventures Holiday Special (1995)

THE LOST HOLIDAYS

I can’t find these next few comics in my horribly messed up comics room. So rundowns are from their original solicitations (sorry!).

DCU Infinite Holiday Special

DCU Infinite Holiday Special


DCU Infinite Holiday Special (2006): New stories featuring Superman, Supergirl, Batman, Batwoman, Shazam, Green Lantern, Flash, and Shadowpact. Creators include writers Greg Rucka, Bill Willingham, Joe Kelly, Tony Bedard, Keith Champagne, and more. Art by John Byrne, Cory Walker, Ale Garza, Phil Jimenez, Christian Alamy, Pete Woods, Keith Champagne, Tim Townsend, and Luciana Del Negro. Cover by Howard Porter. 80 pages.

DCU Holiday Special (2008): New stories featuring the Justice League, Nightwing and Robin, Dr. Light (aiding the Festival of Lights), and the Super-Secret Origin of Santa Claus! Written by Alan Burnett, Franco Aureliani & Art Baltazar, Dan DiDio, and others. Art by Rodolfo Migliari, Kevin Maguire, Ian Churchill, Tim Levins, and others. Also featuring contributions from Paul Dini, Joe Kelly, Sterling Gates, J.C. Vaughn, Amanda McMurray, Rex Ogle, Adam Schlagman, Ivan Reis, Karl Kerschl, Joe Prado, Dustin Nguyen, Dan Davis, Trevor Scott, Rafael Albuquerque, and others. Cover by Frank Quitely. 80 pages.

DCU Holiday Special (2009): Featuring a Superman tale by Arie Kaplan, Nick Runge & Gabe Eltaeb, along with a Batman story illustrated by Peter Nguyen. Other contributors include Bill Tucci (a Sgt. Rock tale), Howard Chaykin (drawing Enemy Ace), Andrew Pepoy (doing Angel and the Ape), plus contributions from Scott Kolins, Sterling Gates, Amy Wolfram, Fred Van Lente, Jay Faerber, Beau Smith, David Tischman, Jay Torres, and Scott Kolins. Also featuring Deadman and B’wana Beast! Cover by Dustin Nguyen. 80 pages, all-new.

DCU Holiday Special (2010): From the dawn of time (Anthro) to the far-flung future (Legion of Super-Heroes), sentient life has honored the winter holidays with celebrations and rituals as diverse as the universe itself! Six tales of holiday cheer, also featuring Superman, The Spectre, Jonah Hex, and Green Lantern John Stewart. Written by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning, Tony Bedard, Joey Cavalieri, Kevin Grevioux, and Dara Naraghi with art by Renato Arlem, Roberto Castro, Richard & Tanya Horie, Carlo Soriano, and others. 56 pages, all-new.

THE MODERN ERA, INCLUDING THIS YEAR

Harley Quinn Holiday Special

Harley Quinn Holiday Special


The Harley Quinn Holiday Special (2014) is one of the more bizarre Christmas titles from DC, but what do you expect when Harley Quinn is involved? Can she get through Christmas dinner without blowing something up? Who will survive the War of the Department-Store Santas? Could her “pets” dressed up like reindeer be more cute??? Written by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, with art by Darwyn Cooke, Alain Mauricet, and Brandt Peters. There were two covers by Amanda, one of which is an epic battle between the New Year’s Baby and Old Man Last Year that Harley is trying to break up. Good luck with that! 48 all-new pages.

DC Rebirth Holiday Special

DC Rebirth Holiday Special


DC Rebirth Holiday Special (2016) has a Chanukah crisis for Huntress, a Flash family Christmas, Wonder Woman interrupting John Constantine’s hellblazing pagan party, and more — including the return of Detective Chimp! Plus, Harley Quinn meets most of the DCU in wraparounds. And Bruce Wayne gets domestic at the Kent house while Krypto stars in “For the Dog Who Has Everything…” Cover by Jorge Jimenez. Written by Paul Dini, Tim Seeley, Eric Esquivel, Heath Corson & Gustavo Duarte, Mariko Tamaki, James Tynion IV, James Asmus, and others. Art by Elsa Charretier, Ian Churchill, Dan Jurgens & Norm Rapmund, Gustavo Duarte, Maatias Bergara, Robbi Rodriguez, Andrea Mutti, and more.

DC Universe Holiday Special

DC Universe Holiday Special


This year brought the DC Universe Holiday Special (2017). Sadly, only three stories really hit me: The wraparound starring Clark Kent, Bibbo, and a mysterious stranger by Jeff Lemire, Giuseppe Camuncoli, and Cam Smith; the grim Sgt. Rock tale by Tom King and Francesco Francavilla; and the Wonder Woman/Batman tale by Greg Rukka and Bilquis Evely — especially the part when they bond over lighting a bonfire after a rough day. Sadly, much of the rest of the book (especially the back half) seemed like some folks still learning their craft. Everybody’s got to start somewhere, I guess. (Oh, and I just dislike Deathstroke. Period. Doesn’t matter who’s writing or drawing… Who thinks he says Christmas?) The Andy Kubert cover is awesome however! (Deathstroke is not on it!) And you get to read “The Silent Night of the Batman” again!

Before you ask… Yes, there were digest size Christmas Specials published by DC. They were mostly all reprints of stories already mentioned above.

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KC CARLSON is looking forward to the Christmas weekend, even if I have to fly to the East Coast. Hey, maybe I can visit my old DC office in … never mind… (sniff… mom and dad moved away while I was at camp!…)

WESTFIELD COMICS is not responsible for the stupid things that KC says. Especially that thing that really irritated you. Hey, Santa… pull up a chair and have a cookie! Why, yes, I was a good boy this year…. Have another cookie!

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