Q: What is the lasting impact of Justice League International? Does it have one? -- @dagsly
A: Does Justice League International have a lasting impact?! Well let me ask you a question, Dags: Does Batman have pointy ears? Does Clark Kent wear glasses? Does Aquaman have pruney fingers and breath that smells like krill? Just so we're all on the same page here, the answer to all of these questions is "yes," especially in the case of JLI having a lasting impact. It's not just that it was a good book, but that it formed a foundation and a blueprint for the way pretty much every team book would work thirty years later.
I mean, I don't want to exaggerate any more than I usually do or anything, but after Lee and Kirby's Fantastic Four and Claremont, Byrne and Cockrum's X-Men, Keith Giffen, JM DeMatteis and Kevin Maguire's Justice League is arguably the most important team book in comics history.
Q: Which video game series would you love to pitch a comic series for? -- @rrob_IV
A: I'm not going to lie to you, Rob: I have always wanted to make comics about video games. I think I've talked about this before, but the first memory I have of actually trying to make comics was laying on the floor of a hotel room at Myrtle Beach one summer vacation, drawing a version of the junkyard scene from Batman #425 that had Blanka and Dhalsim from Street Fighter in place of the standard thugs. It was actually a pretty big dream of mine, and a few years ago, I actually got the chance to pitch a comic based on one of my all-time favorite games. I even ended up writing a pretty big chunk of the script.
So, since you asked, let's talk about the time that I almost wrote a comic based on Final Fight.
Q: Can Santa Claus beat Superman in a fight? Can he beat Batman? --@byharryconnolly
A: You, Harry, have been affected by the cynicism of a cynical age. Any schoolchild could tell you that Santa Claus would never fight Superman or Batman, because they are all on the same side. Then again, I suppose that's why you didn't ask a schoolchild and instead went straight to someone who specializes in providing needlessly elaborate answers to yes-or-no questions about fictional vigilantes.
So today, on this wintry Christmas Week Eve, I'm going to take up the spirit of the holiday and give you the answer you asked for. The short version? Yes. Santa Claus could beat those dudes like government reindeer. It wouldn't even be close.
Q: What's up with Rudolph's Shiny New Year? Is it so perfect there are no other New Years specials? -- @otherhoffman
A: I've talked about my pure, unconditional love for the various Rankin/Bass stop-motion Christmas specials in past columns, but let me tell you, "what's up with Rudolph's Shiny New Year" is a question I have asked myself on many occasions. I'm not sure if I'd call it perfect, but even stacked up against Santa Claus being raised by a lioness and fighting war against the goblins and an Ani-Magic redhead trying to seduce the Lord of All Vampires, it is downright bizarre.
Q: Why does everyone hate the "Christmas with the Joker" episode of Batman: The Animated Series? -- @tekende
A: You know, I'm not sure everyone does hate "Christmas with the Joker." I certainly don't, but then again, I can't really say that I like it a whole lot either. It's definitely one of those episodes that pops into mind whenever I start thinking of the worst episodes of the series, although it misses out on being the actual worst by a long shot. But that said, I don't quite know the reason why.
Q: What superhero has the loveable jolliness/elf-oppressing fist of iron necessary to take over for Santa? -- @FrankMcCormick
A: A replacement for Santa Claus, eh, Frank? Well, that shouldn't be too hard to figure out. It really just comes down to -- wait. A replacement for Santa Claus?! Why do we need a replacement?! Did something happen to Santa?!
Oh God. Oh God. Okay. Don't freak out. We've still got two weeks. There's time to fix this before Christmas Eve. C'mon, Frank. We've got work to do.
Q: What '80s or '90s cartoon do you think has the single best Christmas episode? -- @UncannyJay
A: Given the things I tend to write about in this column, it pretty much goes without saying that I absolutely love cartoon Christmas specials. I even wrote about a few of my favorites last year for ComicsAlliance, including the truly bizarre Christmas Comes to Pac-Land, in which a visit from Santa Claus makes it abundantly clear that Pac-Man's living nightmare of eating dots and being menaced by the vengeful spirits of the damned occurs on some kind of demi-plane that exists outside of the sight of God. That one has to be in my top three.
But beyond those three, there's definitely one Christmas episode in particular that I absolutely love: G.I. Joe's "Cobra Claws Are Coming To Town!"
Q: DEAR CHRIS: I am 42 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, 'If you see it in ComicsAlliance it's so, unless that Wolkin guy wrote it, and then all bets are off.' Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus? -- David Lartigue, via email
A: David, your little friends are wrong, especially about David Wolkin. At least 30% of the stuff he writes is well-researched and at least partially semi-accurate. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe anything except what they read on message boards and comment threads. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, David, whether they be men's or children's, are little. Except Batman's. Because Batman thinks of everything. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect in his intellect (and not the radioactive kind that can give you super-powers), as compared with the boundless world about him.
Yes, David. There is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as Batman and Superman and Spider-Man exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no genocidal killer robots who were reprogrammed to give out presents but decided instead to murder the Avengers with hate-lasers.
Q: How do the holiday mythologies compare between Marvel and DC? -- @crcovar
A: How did you know, Crovar?! Another excuse to drop nine thousand words about the underlying differences in the structure of imaginary universes and how they've affected their storytelling over the past seventy years? It's exactly what I wanted for Christmas!
Nah, I'm just kidding. We can probably get through this one in five or six thousand. Seven, tops.
Q: Merry Ask Chris-tmas! What's the weirdest version of the Santa Claus origin story? -- @prograpslady
A: You know, it wasn't that long ago that I wrote about two different version of Santa's origin that were done as stop-motion TV specials from Rankin-Bass, and as much as I love them both, they're not exactly what you'd really expect. I mean, Santa Claus Is Coming To Town is essentially the story of a revolutionary who brings down a corrupt European government through illegal toymaking and is then hunted until he has to relocate to the North Pole, and The Life And Adventures of Santa Claus has him raised on the milk of a lioness and taught about Japanese samurai by a twelve foot tall druid who shot laser beams from a silver axe in a war against child-hating goblins.
I guess what I'm getting at here is that even for someone who's spent a lifetime getting used to origin stories with nonsense words like "bitten by a radioactive spider" and "inhaled hard water fumes," Santa's beginnings are pretty weird.
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