Saturday, December 26, 2015

What is red and green on Christmas Day ?

Once again there is nothing good on television during the Christmas holidays so we continue the topic of what superheroes do on Christmas.

Okay, there are some good movie on tv but nothing I haven´t already seen and while my Mom is hogging the tv I´m writing yet another post.

This year Christmas has been okay where the presents are concerned - more if you look at how my presents were received than what I got. I have stopped a long time ago to judge Christmas depending on what I got because in most cases it´s disappointing and the important thing is the joy we can bring other people, right ? Speaking about that I´m almost done with The Big Christmas Contest as there is still one package I have to prepare although this one is a whopper. As I mentioned in earlier posts the response to my little charity where I give away free comics has been less than overwhelming and I was already counting on having to put most of the remaining comics into the bucket for next year´s competition. But at the last moment somebody has come up who will take most of the comics left so there will be only a few that will be available next year.

Speaking about next year, don´t expect as many updates as I have made this month which had more posts than usual almost coming down to a new post each day this week. But enough about that and let´s get this post started. My last post about how superheroes spend their Christmas got a bit out of hand lengthwise which is why I couldn´t include the following two examples which turned an already Marvel heavy post into a Marvel only post. So in this post I will feature two stories from other companies starting with DC. A lot of posts about Christmas cover feature FLASH 87 because you have Flash fighting three Santas on the cover by Alan Davis but the best Flash Christmas stories is One Perfect Gift from FLASH 73.

Spoilers : the cover blurb " Guest - starring the original Scarlet Speedster " is true and leads the comic reader to assume it means Jay Garrick.

There are some FLASH issues from the second volume that I have bought and still I haven´t read because I am still missing issues 1 and 70.

Which is one of the reasons why I haven´t done any FLASH FRIDAY posts lately. I´m still hoping to find the issues so I can re - read the entire run in one go starting from issue 1 but I´m not sure if I can hold out until Erlangen which is my last chance to find them because I have already tried all comic shops I know. The new Flash tv series is really a blast and I want to do more posts about the Flash but right now I´m undecided.

Okay, back to FLASH 73 the issue which takes place on Christmas Day starts off with Wally West and Jay Garrick having a conversation while they run through Central  City doing super deeds. Now this is one of the reasons why Wally West is my Flash and nobody will ever take his place.

I know that DC is trying to sell Barry Allen right now and I know that is the one we get in the tv series because of DC´s NEW 52. But even the guys from the tv show couldn´t help but steal Wally West´s famous tagline " My name is Wally West and I´m the Flash, the fastest man alive. " from the comics. I also know that Barry Allen has a lot of fans and I myself grew up with him being the Flash. But contrary to what popular belief tells you your favorite version of a superhero is not always the one you grow up with because then I would prefer Barry Allen over Wally West and Hal Jordan over Guy Gardner. My thesis has always been that you tend to the character you can relate the most to or the one you find most interesting.

And while Barry Allen is the iconic one I never found him very interesting.

His sacrifice in Crisis is the thing that defines him the most apart from The Trial of Flash ( I´m ashamed to admit I still haven´t read it yet ) and he was never very memorable in all his other stories. Which is the reason why they came up with the idea that his mother was killed by the Reverse Flash. Call me crazy but that was not part of the flash canon when I grew up. Nowadays they always kill a loved one if they want to make a hero interesting. Whatever happened to good writing ? Speaking about good writing let´s get back to FLASH 73 since I have to include another story. Jay Garrick and Wally West are talking about Wally´s plans in life. 

When Barry died Wally assumed the mantle of Flash which was something that had not happened in comics before. He was the first sidekick who " graduated " and inherited the super hero title after the hero´s death.

He still wasn´t fully grown up and in the second volume of FLASH - and also in the JUSTICE LEAGUE EUROPE book - we see him become more of an adult and a responsible hero who´s more comfortable in his role. He even changed the look of the Flash costume to individualize him and make people realize that he´s his own man not only a copy of the original Scarlet Speedster. Wally also made the evolution from a guy who always has a new girlfriend to someone who has chosen Linda Park. So the question of marriage comes up as well as what Wally wants for Christmas.

Jay Garrick had become a surrogate father for Wally West and the most interesting issues were when those two get to interact with each other.

So while they are having a conversation and doing their good deeds all over Central City they come across a woman who is about to give birth.

To make matters worse her husband just got fired and plans to knock down his old workplace and help himself to some unplanned holiday gratification. The flashes have to find him and talk him out of it which would be no problem if they could get the woman to a hospital. But because of her delicate condition they have to bring the doctors to her and Jay stays with her while Wally goes to the husband´s workplace.

Finding the errant husband should be a piece of cake for Wally. Except that the guy´s old workplace turns out to be a department store. Okay, usually the Flash would be in and out in a few seconds but it´s Christmas Day so the shop is full of people and Wally can´t use his super speed.

Some people have problems writing such powerful characters like the Flash because they get paralyzed by all the things he can do. But good writers like Mark Waid concentrate on the things he can´t do instead. So in the story Wally of course arrives at the last minute and all things end well. Which is not why this is such a great Christmas story. Everything that has happened until now gives the reader a nice Christmas tale while at the same time fleshing out ( no pun intended ) the character of Wally. 

No, the best part is in the final pages when Joan Garrick asks Wally if he is expecting a visit from " the man in red " and Wally answers that he couldn´t imagine anything Santa Claus could bring him that would be better than what he´s already gotten. Wally is talking about his girlfriend Linda and his extended family with Jay and Joan but Mark Waid still manages to pull a surprise out of his hat that involves the cover blurb. 

Which should not have been that big of a surprise because Jay Garrick never was actually called the Scarlet Speedster but Barry Allen was.

Come on, that´s not a spoiler, the story is almost twenty - three years old. And that´s only the tip of the iceberg. Because with issue 74 the story The Return of Barry Allen began which is one of the best Flash stories of all times. Barry Allen had not be seen in the DC universe and so far death had been final and irreversible. There was a way that Barry Allen could still appear - after all he went to the events of Crisis after spending many years in the 30th century -  but whatever you thought was going to happen next you could not have predicted what happened here.

I can´t wait to elaborate more on this in a future FLASH FRIDAY post. Before closing I want to talk about another comic series : Erik Larsen´s SAVAGE DRAGON. Erik always puts this guy through the wringer and in the early issues of the book Dragon spends the Christmas holiday - and most of the winter - being impaled after a super villain took his right hand.   

And as bad as that was things only got worse when Savage Dragon was finally found - because it was by someone he would have liked to avoid.

Another great Christmas story from the series is issue 70 which is an open homage to Frank Miller´s SIN CITY one shot Silent Night.


I thought about doing a post on the weirdest Christmas Special covers but after a bit of research I found out that this kind of post has been already done to death. So while I may still do that if I have the time let´s start the link section of this post with links to other blogs who covered this.

By the way, these are just the ones I found while looking for Christmas covers and I know there are more out there. If you have done a post and want to be included in the list do contact me. First up is COMIC ATTACK which has done an impressive seven posts ( 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 ) on Christmas covers, many of which were unknown to me. Blog BEHIND THE PANELS also has a post on crazy Christmas covers, Chris Sims at COMICS ALLIANCE lists DC Comics Best Holiday Specials ( including THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD issue 148, which I already covered in this post ), Graeme McMillan over at THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER enlightens you with 10 Underrated Christmas Comics and another post by Chris Sims compares the different holiday mythologies of the DC and the Marvel universe.

One of the things the last post mentions is that in the DC universe there is no clear rule if Santa Claus really exists or not and it rather depends on the kind of story that they are trying to tell. When Dan Jurgens wrote the Superman books he did a story in which Superman spends one day each Christmas answering requests and pleas for help. The story was called Metropolis Mailbag and there even was a follow up during the World without Superman storyline in which the other heroes tried to uphold the tradition. Now in these stories Superman or the other heroes often had to deny most of the requests because it was not in their power and they couldn´t ask Santa for help because Santa obviously did not exist in the post Crisis DC universe. In the pre Crisis DC universe Superman even met Santa Claus twice,  once in the Golden Age in SUPERMAN`S CHRISTMAS ADVENTURE 1 and once in the Bronze Age in DC COMICS PRESENTS 67 .

Next up are posts that cover one particular Christmas comic or story : SUPERMAN 165 , DC SPECIAL SERIES 21 , the aforementioned FLASH 73 which is where I found some of the art for the post, GLX - MAS SPECIAL 1 , COMICO CHRISTMAS SPECIAL 1 , THE BEANO CHRISTMAS SPECIAL , just for my pal Terry Hooper and ACTION CHRISTMAS 1 which is where I found the picture for the beginning of the post. Thanks and kudos to all of you.

One of the things I like on the Flash tv show is how they introduce characters and how they pay homage to the comics. If you haven´t seen the second season you should not watch this but since Jay Garrick is in the first Christmas story of this post here is the Flash of Two Worlds.

Here´s a Christmas clip for the more adult audience of the blog.

Today´s musical video is the CMA Country Christmas show from 2014 as I always try to post more music that is not usually played on german radio. I wanted to post the show from this year but the account was cancelled.

I only mentioned Frank Miller briefly but I still want to post this docu because I don´t think my next DAREDEVIL post will include him.

To close things here´s the Flash cartoon with Barry Allen and Wally West.

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