Throwback Comic Review: “Christmas With The Super-Heroes” #2 (DC Comics, Jolly Jinglings Special)

Christmas with the Super-Heroes #2 (CWTSH2) was published by DC Comics and released in late 1989, just in time for the Christmas season. At a cover price of $2.95 for a newsprint comic book, this was a serious price jump for readers who were used to spending $1.00 for Amazing Spider-Man or Batman. Still, CWTSH2 offered 68 pages of content, all of which we’ll be exploring today in a Jolly Jinglings special throwback review!

Christmas With The Super-Heroes #2 (December 1989)

CWTSH2 was a holiday themed anthology issue that contained all-new content, featuring six different tales, each with a different creative team. The stories respectively centered around: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Enemy Ace, Flash & Green Lantern, and Deadman. 

The first story – titled Ex Machina – was written and pencilled by Paul Chadwick (of Concrete fame) and inked by John Nyberg. It centers on a stranded motorist at the end of his rope. Stuck in the cold in a broken-down car, on a long and winding road in the middle of the night and suffering from a debilitating medical condition that makes the cold extremely unbearable, he decides to end his pain and suffering by committing suicide. Suddenly, as he is about to pull the trigger, he hears a tapping on his window, and he turns to see Superman. Superman doesn’t fly him to safety. No, he sits with the stranded motorist, helps warm him and talks to him and even more importantly, listens to him. He hears what the motorist is going through and offers ways to help, ways in which Superman’s powers aren’t really needed. This is a story of how one person can help another, and it didn’t require super-strength or flight. Yes, perhaps some x-ray vision was used to diagnose the problem with the car, but ultimately it was Superman’s character that saved the day. 

This was my personal favorite story in the entire issue.

Ex-Machina was my personal favorite story in this anthology. Very moving.

In the second story titled And in the Depths, we see what Christmas is like in Batman’s life through the eyes of Alfred.  This 10-page story was written by Dave Gibbons (which many will recognize as the artist behind The Watchmen) and illustrated by Gray Morrow. Although illustrated in dark color tones, there are lighter moments as well.  Although not my favorite story in this issue, it is a worthy addition to this anthology.

In the third installment of this anthology, we find Gifts, a Wonder Woman story written and illustrated by Eric Shanower (who many will know from his Wizard of Oz adaption comic books). Wonder Woman comes to spend the Christmas season with her modern world friends, the Kapatelis family, as they host another friend of theirs, a Pastor, who is going through a personal crisis of her own. As Wonder Woman shares moments of doubt that she has in her Gods, the pastor shares the doubts she’s feeling as well. Each woman helps inspire each other with words of encouragement and faith, and they each see what they have to offer the world. This was a truly inspirational story that I loved and put it just behind “Ex Machina” in the rankings of my favorites in this anthology. 

Gifts shows the importance of talking through your problems and the inspiration words can have on others.

We move on to the fourth story titled Silent Night and it features an Enemy Ace World War I story as written and illustrated by John Byrne and Andy Kubert.  Enemy Ace brings much needed supplies to a struggling Allied hospital on Christmas Eve night and is met with both appreciation and threats of violence. This story is a “silent” story, told without any dialogue or captions. Although fitting well into the anthology format this was my least favorite of the stories in this issue. That’s not to say I didn’t like it or appreciate its inclusion, it’s more to say how much I enjoyed the other stories. 

An Old Fashioned Christmas was the fifth of the six stories in this anthology and it featured both the Flash and Green Lantern as they try to convince a very wealthy but dispirited man that Santa Claus truly does exist. Their efforts lead him on a journey of both discovery and awakening as they help him find the spirit of Santa Claus that can exist in us all. This is a wonderful and uplifting story, filled with the wit and nostalgia of DC comics prior to their dark and brooding period (which seems to go on forever). The story was written by Bill Loebs and illustrated by Collen Doran and Ty Templeton. It’s only 10 pages long, but it brings home the idea that “Christmas Day will always be just as long as we have we. Welcome, Christmas. While we stand…Heart to heart… and hand in hand.” – Dr. Seuss

Flash takes the place of eight tiny reindeer in this classic and uplifting Christmas tale.

In our final story of this issue, Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot, we see Deadman as he ponders his existence as a ghost in the living world. As difficult as his time among the living typically is, it’s exacerbated during the holiday season when everyone seems to be extending goodwill toward each other. Written by Alan Brennert (who wrote my all-time favorite DC Elseworlds story: Holy Terror) and illustrated by longtime DC artist Dick Giordano, this 10-page tale features a clever guest appearance by an ethereal blonde-haired young lady named Kara who can somehow see Deadman and converse with him. As Deadman wonders who this woman was and why she was able to see him, you will have to remember that this story was published just a few short years after Crisis on Infinite Earths, and the death of Supergirl was still a powerful moment that resonated throughout DC. This was a great inclusion and a perfect way to end this heartwarming and uplifting issue. 

Although she never came out and said it, I can’t help but suspect Kara is Supergirl.

On a personal note, I remember when this book was first released. I actually bought Christmas with the Super-Heroes #1 right off the shelf when it first came out. At $2.95, I was really disappointed when I read issue #1 and realized that the stories were all reprints. So, when issue #2 was released, I skipped it. All this time and I had no idea that all of the stories that were collected in the second issue were new material. It was just the random stumbling across this book in a $.50 bin that convinced me pick it up. 

Reading this issue was an absolute joy and it had me wondering what would’ve been better, reading it now 33 years after its release for the very first time, or reading it when it was originally released? It’s something that I’ll never know for sure, but I can’t help but think things happen for a reason. CWTSH2 took me back to a simpler time, away from global pandemics and supply chain issues, away from social media and mass violence. It demonstrated how acts of kindness and words of inspiration and encouragement can have a profound affect on someone. You don’t need super powers to help make a difference in someone’s life. 

I am grateful to all of the contributors of this issue. You helped create a new yearly Christmas tradition for me. I look forward to revisiting this issue in the Christmas 2023 season and for years to come. I hope you consider reading it as well. To all the readers of The Splintering, to all the comic book readers out there, and to all who believe, Merry Christmas.

Thanks for reading!

To check out more of our Jolly Jinglings content, go here. Otherwise, please consider following The Splintering on social media or bookmarking the site for more independent entertainment news, views, and commentary! Happy holidays!

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