Every December, heroes and heroines around the world of superheroes indulge in unusual seasonal experiences that rely on their powers of goodwill and cheer as much as their super strength. It’s just a matter of pages before the appearance of Jolly Old Saint Nick himself, Santa Claus, to remind everyone to think hard if they want a happy morning on December 25th.
You don’t want to know quite as much as I talk about yuletids in my comic book collection – and yet, despite their huge numbers, there are those who feel that such stories don’t really count. People firmly believe in their too-small hearts in two sizes that any story in which Superman, Batman, Spider-Man or whoever associates with Santa is not actually a canon. There is only one answer to these people: humbug!
Santa is a canon. And I can prove it.
Two Santa’s Big Two comic book career actually started in DC, back in the 1940s Superman’s Christmas adventure. One-time teams Man of Steel and Man with a Big White Beard against the wonderfully named Dr. Grouch and Mr. Meaney, two old men to whom Ebeneezer Scrooge was clearly a personal inspiration. Christmas adventure – written by Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel, with the art of Jack Burnley – manages to create a framework that will follow a significant number of later stories, even if they lack the beautiful purple prose that Siegel offers to the happy reader.
“Juletide! A period of joy and goodwill among the people! It seems that it is hardly possible that someone could be so evil as to sabotage such a beloved event, but others. Grouch, a gloomy killjoy, is planning just that. “And that’s only half of the first title.
Over the next 80 years, Santa appeared in a number of different DC comics, including titles of equally diverse Sgt. Rock i The Specter. He reunited with Superman DC Comics presents (The story is, wonderfully, titled “‘ Twas the Fright Before Christmas! ’). He got a dark and rough makeover in the 1980s in 1985 Ambush ambush sock (on picture). Perhaps most exciting of all, it appeared in 1991 Lobo’s paramilitary Christmas special, where he fought the eponymous Chief Man after the latter was hired to assassinate Santa Claus by a jealous Easter bunny (all done with the seasonal generosity of Keith Giffen, Alan Grant, and Simon Bisley).
Perhaps the comic that most clearly confirms the canonicity of Santa Claus at DCU in modern times in 2001 YLA Br. 60, “Merry Christmas, Justice League – Now die!. “The book was DC’s biggest superhero title of the time, putting it completely into what was considered“ real ”for DCU. Most editions are made up of the story of Plastic Man telling a child about a fictional team between Santa Claus and the YLA, but in the code appears the real Santa Claus who grins at what he just saw closing the deal: Santa Claus is definitely real in DCU.
As for the Marvel universe, the argument is even easier to make. In the absence of a significant relaunch of its long history, every story Marvel has ever published, featuring Chris Kringle, is part of the Marvel canon. That includes 1991 Marvel Holiday Special short in which the X-Men discover that Santa Claus is one of the most powerful mutants on Earth – Jonathan Hickman, the ball is in your court. And in 2016 The Mighty One and the Iron Fist: Sweet Christmas # 1, where Santa appears in return, keeping the demon Krampus at a distance for years before Luke Cage and Danny Rand had the same gig. Even Peter Parker, Spectacular Spider-Man # 112, a one-off 1985 edition in which Santa Claus appears embarrassing a thief dressed in a Santa Claus costume, is part of the official history of the Marvel Universe.
Admittedly, there are some stories in which canonicity may be questionable; 1992 short of Marvel Age # 109 where Captain America remembers rescuing Santa from the Nazis in the middle of World War II may or may not be part of official Marvel history. Not because of Santa’s involvement, but because it was one of Fred Hembeck’s generally enduring humorous tapes by cartoonist, for example. (Still, it’s a great idea.) Nonetheless, Santa’s place in Marvel Canon is pretty safe, given the evidence available.
He is so ingrained in the Marvel universe that in fact there is even a non-Christmas comic in which he appears. 1988 Sensational She-Hulk Number 8 answers the question of what Santa does when he doesn’t ship toys around the world every year: Turns out he’s the world’s greatest detective named Nick St. Christopher – a man who, as he cheerfully explains, “I always know[s] Who was that naughty… i nice… “(” I can not wait to see how they write this in [The Official Handbook to the] Marvel Universe“, She-Hulk comments on the fourth wall as the story ends.)
Unfortunately for all the super-Grinches out there, the tradition of including Santa in Marvel and DC comics is a thing of the past; 2018 edition Dead pool set Merc with his mouth after Father Christmas in a story not entirely different from DC’s Lobo special from a quarter of a century earlier – this time, though, some disgruntled children wished merry Santa Claus a head on a plate – and last year’s New Year’s evil one shot from DC came from Ni’Klaus of Myra, a powerful wizard who literally used another name for Santa. Both are, it should be added, canonical phenomena.
As long as there are comics about Marvel and DC – not to mention the holidays, although this should perhaps be taken for granted given the context – it seems guaranteed that Santa will continue to appear in both universes irregularly, spreading good cheering and reminding the audience that, at heart, superhero comics are filled with funny, unrealistic characters created to make children smile. For those who have trouble with this, there is a lump of coal with your name on it.
Happy holidays, by the way.