Everyone loves comic book trivia, but with decades of comics behind, there’s always some new obscure fact to learn. That’s why ComicsAlliance is going deep into the minutiae of your favorite names in comics in our continuing video series. You think you know comics? Well, here’s a few things you might not know!
This week, we're all waiting for the man with the bag, Santa Claus!
Q: Santa's workshop is taken over by terrorists who are not what they seem. Which comics character fits the John McClane role? Remember: he’s an unlikely hero, so no obvious answers like Batman. — @charlotteofoz
A: Okay, look: I know that everyone is tired of the whole "Die Hard is the best Christmas movie" thing. I mean, I'm tired of it, and Matt D. Wilson and I once recorded a commentary track for that movie as the Christmas special for our podcast. But all that said, this question has too many interesting parts to not answer.
Sakura Tsukuba's Sweet Rein tells the story of Kurumi, a teenage girl who discovers that she's a Santa Claus when she encounters Kaito, a wispy and beautiful boy who is also sometimes a reindeer, and who is quite literally bound to her with an invisible rein that compels him to obey her commands. Also, they are in love.
It is, without question, the single most bonkers premise I have ever encountered in a lifetime of reading Christmas comics, and I've saved the second volume for an entire year waiting to read it. And folks... it does not disappoint.
The weird thing about Santa Mythology is that while we're all pretty solid on what he does now --- you know, the North Pole, the elves, the sleigh and the toys, all that good stuff --- the origin story is a lot harder to pin down. I suspect this has a lot to do with the fact that our modern idea of Santa Claus has been cobbled together from sources as disparate as a the life of a 4th-century saint, an advertising campaign for Coca-Cola, the stories of Thor's dad, and a series of stop-motion animated specials, but still. It leaves a lot up in the air.
Which is how you end up with stuff like "Santa's First Christmas Trip," in which we get an origin for the jolly old saint that takes the basic premise of "hefty toymaker delivers his wares to children" and goes right off the rails to banditry, frostbite, and the unanswered mystery of Santa's little brother.
On the evening of December 5, children across the world will set out their shoes hoping that on the morning of December 6, they will awake to find them full of treats from Saint Nicholas. But in many parts of Europe, Saint Nicholas Eve is also known as Krampusnacht, a night when Saint Nicholas's wild companion, the Krampus, roams the street looking to punish the wicked.
And so in the spirit of previous holiday comics such as The Klaubauf's Wager, Tio de Nadal, and The Baker's Dozen, we at Comics Alliance are happy to present a brand new original comic by Benito Cereno and Chuck Knigge; a surprisingly historical tale of Krampusnacht.
Grant Morrison and Dan Mora's Klaus was my favorite comic book story of the year. The reimagining of Santa Claus as a superhero with an origin story that was equal parts Rankin-Bass and Batman RIP is probably the platonic ideal of what I want out of entertainment, and after reading the entire first series, I really just wanted more. Now, I'm getting my Christmas wish: on December 21, Klaus returns in Klaus and the Witch of Winter, an extra-sized one-shot in which Morrison and Mora bring Santa to the modern world and go beyond his origin story for an all-new adventure.
ComicsAlliance spoke to Morrison about his feelings about Santa Claus, why the series is like his personal Doctor Who, and why Santa Claus is real. Because of course Santa Claus is real.
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.
As anyone who knows me can attest, I'm a pretty big fan of Christmas, and this time of year, I start going through my set of holiday traditions. There's the usual ones, of course, like decorating the tree and opening the Advent Calendar, but I've also got a few of my own, like the traditional Christmas Eve slice of pie at the Waffle House.
But the ones I look forward to most of all are the round of Christmas specials I watch every year. The centerpiece, of course, is a 1967 episode of Dragnet called "The Christmas Story," where Joe Friday investigates the theft of a statue of Jesus from a church on Christmas Eve, but for me, the Christmas season just isn't complete without a viewing of the Xena: Warrior Princess episode "A Solstice Carol."
Q: How do Santa Claus and Christmas magic mix with superhero settings, where actual magic and superpowers exist? Just how powerful is it? -- @anniezard
A: If my years of obsessing over Christmas specials have taught me anything, it's that Christmas magic is quite possibly the most powerful force in the universe. It can change the hearts of miserly ducks, open up a portal to to the mystical realm of Eternia so that kids can learn all about how Skeletor loves fights, and it can even cause dangerous levels of interference with the Morphin Grid. Outside of Batman's thirst for justice and Jughead's love of hamburgers, it might be the single most powerful force in the universe, assuming that you're measuring between Thanksgiving and January 6.
As for how Santa Claus himself can fit into a superhero setting, I actually think he's one of the easiest characters from literature or folklore to just slide right into a world of crimefighters and arch-villains. More than Dracula, more than Robin Hood, he's the one who works the best, because when you get right down to it, he's already doing the same kind of stuff. It's just that for some reason, they never call him up when it's time for a crossover.
With 800 episodes over the course of 22 years, the Power Rangers television show is arguably the single most successful live-action superhero franchise of all time, and certainly one of the strangest. Adapted from Japan's long-running Super Sentai series, created by manga legend Shotaro Ishinomori, the Power Rangers combined the giant robots and monsters of their Japanese counterpart with a completely different set of secret identities and problems, and became a pop cultural phenomenon. That's why we're looking back with an in-depth guide to Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, including its source material, Kyuoryu Sentai Zyuranger, in ComicsAlliance's Ranger Station!
This week, we're jumping ahead to the current series, Power Rangers Dino Charge, for a look at the "Race to Rescue Christmas," and the question of just how Santa Claus works in the world of the Power Rangers!
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