Q: What is the best media representation of Santa Claus's origin? -- @pbarb
A: I'll be honest with you, folks: I love Santa Claus almost as much as I love Batman. In fact, I'm pretty sure the only reason the Caped Crusader gets the edge over Jolly Old St. Nick is that nobody's out there publishing five monthly comics about his continuing adventures. As a result of that egregious oversight, I'm not as familiar with Santa's various origins as I probably should be. There are, however, two origins for Santa Claus that I like an awful lot, despite the fact that they're so different from each other that they could almost be about two completely unrelated characters.
Should you ever need a reminder that the 1990s were a strange, strange time, look no further than We Wish You a Turtle Christmas. Released in 1994 at the height of that hazy, pre-Pokemon era when when the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise reigned as the most popular thing in the entire world, Turtle Christmas was a 25-minute video in which the Turtles sang Christmas songs about themselves.
If that sounds weird, believe me that it's actually even weirder. So today, deck the sewer walls and wash that pizza down with eggnog as we take a look back at this holiday classic, and the great many questions it raises just by its very existence.
If you're not familiar with the Aquabats Super Show, then let me tell you, friends, it was pretty great. It ran for three years on the Hub, following the adventures of the Aquabats, a real-life superhero-themed band known for battling monsters onstage, recast as a group of musical superheroes who traveled the world battling evil with the power of rock 'n' roll and guitars that shoot lightning, featuring guest stars like Weird Al and Tony Hawk, and frequently written and directed by Homestar Runner co-creator Matt Chapman. In other words, it's the perfect television show.
Needless to say, the Christmas special was just as amazing as the rest of the series, as the Aquabats journey to a town where Christmas has been outlawed by the Krampus, who took over with plans to hand out a birch-rod beating to anyone who dares to celebrate the holidays.
Chris Sims: Hello everyone, and welcome back to our series of in-depth reviews of movies based on comics. This week, though, we're doing something a little different! With Christmas just around the corner, we wanted to hit something holiday-themed, and while we debated checking out the Star Wars Holiday Special or one of the three - three! - Christmas episodes of Lois and Clark, we eventually found something that interested us a little more.
Matt Wilson: Our choice came down to continuing our '90s trend with the Christmas episode of The Mask cartoon or the Christmas episode of the 1970s Wonder Woman TV show. Only one of these choices, Wonder Woman, had Frank Gorshin in a guest-starring role, so we went with that one.
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.
I'm going to go out on a festively decorated limb here and guess that you are, of course, already familiar with Mike Maihack's fantastic and adorable Batgirl/Supergirl strips. He's been doing them for a few years now, chronicling the perky, cheerful Kryptonian heroine, the slightly grumpier Gotham City vigilante, and their continuing adventures as best friends.
They're all pretty great, but my favorites by far are the annual Christmas specials. This year, though, they're even more special than usual, as Batgirl and Supergirl are joined by a special guest star for an evening of caroling in exchange for candy. It's a Christmas Miracle!
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!"
Listen, I'll be the first to admit that I'm a complete sucker when it comes to Christmas comics. I love 'em, and the more heartwarming they are, the better, whether it's a thoroughly predictable ending where someone does a good deed for the less fortunate or a passionate, starry-eyed speech about peace on Earth and goodwill to others. I love that stuff, and as a result, I've never been a fan of Christmas stories that go dark. Call me a sap if you will, but in most darker Christmas stories, there's a cynicism that I just don't find all that appealing.
Every now and then, however, I run across a holiday story that's not just dark and not just cynical, but so utterly, shockingly grim that I end up completely fascinated by it, and this week, that is exactly what has happened. Everyone who has ever tried to make a jaded, pessimistic holiday story needs to step aside, because I have found the darkest, most shockingly violent Christmas comic of all time -- and it's a six-page Archie story from 1958.
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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