Ask Chris #38: Is There a Santa Claus? And Other Christmas Questions
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.
There would be no childlike faith in gods that use magic hammers to fight dragons in green underpants, no poetry spoken by fire-breathing demons with fish fins on the side of their heads, no romance between super-powered farmboys and intrepid girl reporters to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which imagination fills the world would be extinguished.
Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fifth-dimensional imps who show up four times a year to warp reality for the sole purpose of messing with you! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but unless you put the World's Greatest Detective on the case, it's not going to happen. And even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, except when he shows up to recruit super-heroes to help him with his yearly rounds and/or delivers presents through the Firepits of Apokolips to Darkseid himself!
You may try to put rules on stories and bicker over which ones are "canon" and which don't count because they're not as real as other imaginary tales, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not Superman, nor even the combined strength of Brother Eye and the One Man Army Corps, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the beauty and glory of imagination beyond. Is it all real? Ah, David, in all this world there is nothing else more real and abiding.
No Santa Claus! Thank the Batman he lives, and he lives forever! A thousand years from now, David, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, when X-Force #1 might actually be worth something again, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.
I'm also pretty sure there's a Dracula.
Q: Secret Santa. Names in a hat. $25 max. You pick Batman. What's your gift to him? Tarot picks you. What's her gift to you? -- AaronABCP
A: This may in fact be the toughest Ask Chris question ever asked, but as I pride myself on my gift-giving ability, I'll do my best.
To start with, Batman is quite possibly the hardest super-hero in comics to buy a present for. Sure, Superman can crush coal into diamonds, but he's also the kind of guy who would genuinely appreciate a sweater. But Batman? Not only is he phenomenally wealthy, but he's also a guy who believes that the victory is in the preparation, so he already has everything he could possibly need. I mean, this is a dude who already has a Dalek in his basement just in case he needs one.
Clearly, getting him something he needs is out of the question.
As for getting him something he'd like, well, that's just as difficult. Batman's "likes" are pretty much limited to "justice" and "the night" and "vengeance," and while the current level of technology in the DC Universe may actually allow for the wrapping up abstract concepts and putting them under the tree, I'm pretty sure the $25 dollar limit wouldn't quite cover it.
The solution, of course, would be to get him something wholly unique that he could appreciate on its own merits, and for that, there's really only one way to go: Original Art. I mean, I've been reading Batman comics for years, and as far as I know, the only things that guy has hanging on his walls are old family portraits that are actually of himself and a giant picture of his parents that was recently destroyed by Dr. Hurt. If nothing else, the guy's going to need something to fill that spot above the fireplace, and there are only so many interior design problems that you can solve with dead sidekick uniforms in glass cases.
Fortunately, the $25 limit is the exact price of a piece of art I'm sure he'd love:
A custom watercolor portrait of Batman himself riding a unicorn! All I'd have to do is send in a few pictures of him for reference, and I think the record will show I have a few I could probably spare. And best of all, not only is it something wholly unique that would bring some much-needed cheer into his grim day-to-day, it's exactly the kind of present that Alfred would ensure was displayed prominently at all times. That's just how Alfred rolls.
As for what Tarot, Witch of the Black Rose would get me, that's even more difficult. The way you've presented the question indicates that we would at least know each other well enough that we'd be participating in the same round of Secret Santa, and since she's the protagonist of her own book (however inept she might seem), it's probably safe to assume that she's at least a halfway decent present-buyer.
There is, of course, the possibility that she'd get me an intentionally lousy present in order to get revenge for my less-than-glowing reviews of her book, but I have to think that thanks to her oft-stated belief in the Threefold Law, she'd opt to take the high road, lest she wind up with plain socks every Solstice 'til 2014. But at the same time, I still doubt she'd think too hard about it, so it would have to involve with one of the things I've got a well-known affection for.
I think it's safe to say Tarot's the kind of person who would go for a "unique" gift rather than just snagging something off my Wishlist or going with the obvious choice -- a copy of Carlton Mellick III's 2006 novel The Haunted Vagina, a thing that actually exists -- and I think it's also safe to say that whatever gift she gives me is going to have some sort of supernatural significance.
So, knowing that she's going to go for a uniquely witchity gift tied in to something everybody knows I like that you can snag for under twenty-five bucks (and that I already have the best possible piece of Tarot-related original art), there is no doubt in my mind I'd end up with this:
A vial of Dracula Dust: five grams of soil collected from the front steps of Bran Castle, the real-life home of Vlad the Impaler, shipped directly to your home with a numbered certificate of authenticity for only $17.99 plus shipping.
I'm not going to lie, as monumentally insane a product as that is, I've been tempted ever since Solomon Stone artist Matthew Allen Smith threatened to buy it for me for Christmas. Not tempted enough to actually pay $18 for for a plastic vial of dirt, mind you, but that's what makes it the perfect gift! Of course, knowing Tarot, it wouldn't just be authentic (and most likely come with CoA #666, which would be pretty friggin' metal), but it would be dirt Dracula himself actually needed for some arcane reason, thus leading to my inevitable on-panel impalement in a future issue of her comic.
Q: What are the worst Holiday-related comic books you've ever read? -- KDBryan
A: Much as I love Christmas comics, there are some truly awful ones floating around out there, and without question the biggest piece of coal of all time is this one:
For those of you who aren't familiar with it -- which would be all of you who don't actively seek out the worst thing you can possibly read -- WARRIOR was a comic about WARRIOR that was written by WARRIOR (the ex-wrestler best known as the Ultimate Warrior in the WWF, who had his name legally changed after a copyright dispute with Vince McMahon), and it reads like the fever dream of a peyote addict as recounted by someone who doesn't quite have a handle on English.
The main series follows Warrior's sub-Liefeldian adventures as he goes into a coma and dreams himself into a world of "Destrucity," an incomprehensible personal philosophy in which his arm-ribbons were meant to represent... I dunno, hard work? Dedication? Steroids? I'll be honest, it's pretty hard to follow, even if you read the text pieces that are invariably printed in eye-searing shades of yellow type on orange or lime green backgrounds.
The series proper never finished, but there was the WARRIOR X-MAS SPECIAL, which was completely insane. And I don't mean, like, "Silver Age DC" insane, I mean "People's Exhibit A in a criminal trial" insane. It involves Warrior attempting to help Santa's image "in exchange for a few cases of nude Barbies" (?) because "in the universe of Destrucity we are fortunate he is seen differently in the mind of some" (?!), which basically translates to pin-ups of Warrior filling in for Santa Claus, taking orders from kids, choking out the Grinch, and... Well, doing whatever the hell this is supposed to be:
I've said it before, but it bears repeating: The '90s were a strange time, everybody.
That's all we have for this week, but if you've got a question you'd like to see Chris tackle in a future column, just put it on Twitter with the hashtag #AskChris, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with [Ask Chris] in the subject line. Special thanks to Rusty Shackles for the holiday logo. And Merry Christmas!