During his time as an editor at DC comics from 1987 to 1989, Mark Waid was instrumental in many great DC projects (he and Brian Augustyn are credited with creating DC’s Elseworlds spin-off franchise), but his contribution in ensuring that DC’s competitors weren’t dominating the Christmas anthology market during the late 80s is often overlooked.
Case in point: Christmas with the Super-Heroes #1 and #2 (1988 and 1989, respectively).
I won’t delve too much into Christmas with the Super-Heroes #1 (mainly because I couldn’t find a house ad for it), but it was a 100 page reprint of DC’s most popular Christmas stories. A large majority of the reprinted stories first appeared in DC Special Series v1 #21 (1980), so you’re not really getting anything new here. Remember that 1968 story where the Teen Titans battled Scrooge? Yeah, it’s in here. That DC Comics Presents #67 (1983) story where Superman teams up with Santa? Yep – it’s in here, too. I’m not entirely 100% sure of what Waid’s role in all of this was (he’s the editor so I guess he selected the stories to reprint?) but Waid did include a nice little anecdote about a Christmas where he just chilled with his comics – so there’s always that.
The real focus of today’s article is the surprisingly awesome Christmas with the Super-Heroes #2 published in 1989. First, I’m going to tell you that it was also edited by Mark Waid. Second, I’m going to tell you that it was another anthology – but that it contained ALL NEW material! Mark Waid somehow managed to get contributions from Paul Chadwick (of Dark Horse’s Concrete), Dave Gibbons (of Watchmen), Eric Shanower (of First Comics’ Oz), John Byrne (of Superman), Bill Loebs (of Aardvark-Vanaheims’ Journey: The Adventures of Wolverine MacAlistaire), and Alan Brennert into one anthology book. That alone, folks, is worth the price of admission. All of the stories seem to be about super-heroes helping out their fellow man (except for the Dave Gibbons story which, for some reason, seems to be about the nature of Batman and Robin’s relationship/conflict expressed in allegorical terms).
The three things that really stand out in this issue are:
- the completely silent Enemy Ace story by John Byrne and Andy Kubert,
- the pre-Crisis retro story in which Hal Jordan (Green Lantern) and Barry Allen (Flash) are hanging out in the JLA Satellite and decide to go help some folks on Christmas Eve; and
- the Deadman story where Kara Zor-El Supergirl makes her last pre-Crisis appearance (4 years after Crisis On Infinite Earths, no less).
I think the Deadman/Supergirl story was my favorite story of all – it was cleverly written by Alan Brennert and it left you with one of those self-satisfying “Aha” moments at the end as all the pieces fell into place. I recall that a lot of fans were hopeful that this would lead to the return of Kara Zor-El Supergirl to the DCU (or the next best step: acknowledging that she existed), but alas, no dice. The Green Lantern/Flash team-up was a great read, as it brought back the old nostalgic feelings from when Busiek was writing Justice League of America in the early to mid-80s. Hell, the whole book was great – read it if you ever get the chance. The book also contained another Waid anecdote as he recounts what he was doing the night John Lennon died.
Mark Waid would leave his editorial position at DC comics later that year and return in 1992 to write The Flash (which would ultimately propel Waid to stardom). Roughly fifteen years later Waid would whistle-blow on the whole comic book industry’s mistreatment of freelance writers (which obviously caused some waves). And now you know the rest of the story. 😉