DC Comics has had an interesting relationship with Christmas over the years. During the Golden Age of Comics in the 1940s, Christmas stories were a yearly tradition in the pages of Superman and Batman comic books, but once the Golden Age faded away in the late 1940s, so, too, did most of DC Comics’ Christmas stories in the pages of their superhero comics. DC would still do a lot of Christmas stories, but they would typically be in their own titles (Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, for instance, had his own yearly DC Comic book for over a decade from 1950-1961).
As the 1970s began, DC started doing more Christmas stories again and also started doing Holiday Specials. By the start of the 1980s, though, the practice had once again fallen by the wayside. After an excellent Christmas collection in the late 1980s, DC hit their biggest period of Christmas stories since the Golden Age during the 1990s, when Christmas stories and Holiday Specials were common releases (DC expanded their release schedule in general, so it makes sense). Recently, after a bit of a lull in the early 2000s, DC has begun doing yearly Holiday Specials once again. Here, we will count down the five greatest DC Comics Christmas stories!
THE TT’S SWINGIN’ CHRISTMAS CAROL!
1967’s “The TT’s Swingin’ Christmas Carol!” from Teen Titans #13 by Nick Cardy and Bob Haney tells the story of a young teenager who looks to the Teen Titans for help. It seems that Tiny Tom Ratchet’s father works for this guy named Scrounge, who owns a junkyard. Scrounge is letting some bad guys use his junkyard for one of those outlandish schemes that could only exist in a comic book. They have developed a brilliant machine that can transform expensive cars into scrap metal. Thus, when the scrap ends up at Scrounge’s junkyard, they then use the machine to turn them back into expensive cars. The whole thing is just an attempt to avoid paying duty on the imported cars. Yes, that is the extent of this villainous scheme.
Anyhow, the Titans decide that Scrounge reminds them enough of Ebeneezer Scrooge that they decide to “haunt” him until he agrees to help them stop the bad guys. Eventually, Scrooge is redeemed and the day is saved. It’s a delightfully trippy comic book story by Haney and Nick Cardy’s artwork is astounding. Cardy was an excellent “good girl” artist, and his Wonder Girl dressed in a Santa outfit likely gave impure thoughts to a whole generation of comic book readers of the era.
1991’s “Metropolis Mailbag” from Superman #64 by Dan Jurgens and Jackson Guice shows Superman letting his then-fiancee Lois Lane in on another aspect of his life (now that she knew his secret identity, she had to get used to a whole lot of new aspects of Superman’s life that she never knew about). You see, you know how everyone sends letters to Santa Claus for Christmas? Well, as it turns out, they also send those same types of letter to Superman! Once a year, at Christmastime, Superman shows up at the Metropolis Post Office and answers the letters as best as he can.
The letters vary from the absurd to the heartbreaking. Superman manages to help as much as he can, like reuniting a Holocaust survivor with her sister (who she thought had died during the Holocaust) right before her sister passes away. However, Superman can’t help a young boy who believes that Superman should be able to cure his father’s brain tumor. At the end of the issue, Superman comes up with a way to throw a party for the needy children of Metropolis with the help of Bruce Wayne and Professor Emil Hamilton. Jurgens did a sequel to this story a year later, in the wake of Superman’d death, his fellow heroes fill in for him at Christmastime (Jurgens re-visited the mailbag concept a few other times in ensuing years).
THE PERFECT GIFT
1992’s “One Perfect Gift” from Flash #73 by Mark Waid, Greg LaRocque and Ray Richardson saw Wally West celebrating Christmas his first Christmas with his new girlfriend, Linda Park. They had actually just gotten together a few issues earlier (as Mark Waid paid off the strong work that William Messner-Loebs had done setting up Wally and Linda’s friendship as possibly developing into something much larger) and so things were still very new for Wally. Jay Garrick had only recently returned from a strange story where the Justice Society of America were out of commission for years (they were stuck in literal limbo) and now he was serving as a sort of grandfather figure to Wally.
The impatient Wally gets Jay to agree to go out on patrol with him on the holidays and Wally talks about the oddity of growing up and how Christmas takes on a different meaning when you’re an adult and how Wally wishes that he could still capture the feeling he had as a young boy when he got the baseball mitt that he hoped for at Christmas. Jay talks some sense into him while they also help a young woman deliver a baby. It’s very much a throwback to the Denny O’Neil Christmas stories of the 1970s, just with a little modern twist.
At the end of the issue, after Wally is shocked by Linda getting him a baseball mitt (I think that those two might have a future together), Wally gets his “perfect gift,” when Barry Allen shows up alive! Of course, it wasn’t that simple, as shown by the classic story, “The Return of Barry Allen,” but in this moment, it is a Christmas mir.