Christmas miracles and peace on Earth aren’t just for Frosty the Snowman and Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer. For over 70 years, DC Comics has been getting into the holiday spirit with special Christmas stories. To celebrate this festive season, here are our picks for the best caped and cowled Christmas comics.
Joseph Wilbur on Superman’s Christmas Adventure
Published in 1940 during the Golden Age of comics, Superman’s old-fashioned look makes this comic especially memorable, and the comic’s plot is something special. Superman’s Christmas Adventure follows Clark Kent as he tries to find a Christmas story for the Daily Planet. As he looks for a story to write about, he sees an ungrateful, spoiled child who demands greater and greater gifts for Christmas. Supes plays the role of one of the Christmas ghosts in A Christmas Carol, taking the child on a tour of the city. At the end of the night, the child ends up just like Ebeneezer Scrooge, having a Christmas revelation and becoming grateful for all he has.
But writers Jerry Siegel and Jack Burnley weren’t done yet. An evil duo decides to steal a unique prize – Santa’s reindeer. However, Santa Claus and Superman are acquaintances and Supes comes to Santa’s rescue. Oh, and at the end, Superman plays the role of Rudolf, guiding Santa’s sleigh. That image alone earns this comic its place in the ranks of the greatest Christmas comics of all time.
Karma Savage on Teen Titans #13 “Swingin’ Christmas Carol”
Originally published in 1967, Teen Titans “Swingin’ Christmas Carol” tells the famous Charles Dickens tale A Christmas Carol, but instead of its usual characters the members of Teen Titans portray the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future. The story starts off with Aqualad, Wonder Girl, and Kid Flash teasing Robin for reading the Charles Dickens classic.
Bob Haney‘s writing undoubtedly puts you in the 1960s with words like ‘groovin’, ‘uncool’ and ‘dynamite’. Artist Nick Cardy joyful illustrates the festive story and the advertisements of Mattel and Parker Brothers are a bonus piece of nostalgia.
This is my favorite Christmas comic because it was gifted to me from a fellow graphic designer during our annual Secret Santa event.
Graham Host on Flash #73
Without a doubt, my favorite DC Christmas comic is the February ‘93 Flash #73. This one has it all – Jay Garrick riding along, a criminal who decides to do the right thing at the last minute, and even some divine intervention that leads him to his newborn baby.
This comic features some very realistic moments, even for people with Speed Force powers. We get to see Wally West obsessed with trying to get the tree just right and trying to navigate through the ‘why did we leave it so late’ shoppers. He also has to struggle with the changing meaning of Christmas now that he has grown from child to man. And although we know that Joan means the other ‘man in red’ right at the end, it is still a fantastic surprise to see Barry Allen standing in the doorway in the last panel (even if the good cheer doesn’t last long).
Joseph Wilbur on “Super-Star Holiday Special”
Just take a look at that cover; it is one of José Luis García-López‘s most stunning pieces of work. This one is a bit unique compared to the other comics on this list. Rather than focus on one hero, the “Super-Star Holiday Special” is a mix of comic book characters that DC was running back in 1979, even the more remote characters. There is a Sgt. Rock and Easy Company story, and even a Jonah Hex one. And every one of these had a different author, giving it special value.
If you are a fan of the Legion of Super-Heroes, then the “Super-Star Holiday Special” is a must read. Superboy and the Legion team up for a special mission. It’s not your typical Santa story either. Instead, this one revolves around a missing item – the star of Bethlehem. You’ll just have to read it to see how this crazy quest goes.
Another one of my favorite stories from this comic is the Batman feature called “Wanted: Santa Claus – Dead or Alive!” It features some of Frank Miller’s earliest Batman drawings.
The “Super-Star Holiday Special” is one that is clearly special as DC has reprinted many of the stories in this comic in their other Holiday Specials.
Joseph Wilbur on “Christmas With the Super-Heroes” #2
“Christmas With the Super-Heroes” #2 has another magnificent cover. The comic features appearances from many iconic heroes, from Aquaman to Plastic Man. Can you spot where cover artist John Byrne fit in Atom?
“Christmas with the Super-Heroes” has a unique history. In 1987, Mark Waid made his first collection of DC Christmas stories. The first volume of “Christmas with the Superheroes” rounded up some of DC’s most classic stories over the year. The next year, he followed the first issue with an even better one, this time with new stories using the best writers and artists DC had at their disposal.
One of the best stories in this collection is one written by Alan Brennert and Dick Giordano. Titled “Should Auld Acquaintance be Forgot,” this story focuses on Deadman and has a much deeper meaning than most Christmas specials. Deadman questions his existence, but he receives a visit from Supergirl that convinces him of his worth. The deeper storyline makes this comic one of the greatest Christmas specials of all time. That, and the sweet artwork.