Comic Book Holidays
In this edition of #ComicBookLove, PHS Editor Corrina Lawson talks about how two DC Comics couples, one well-known, and one more obscure, celebrate the holidays.
The most best holiday couple in comics?
Not Batman and Catwoman.
Not Reed and Sue Richards.
Not even Lois and Clark.
The correct answers: Jonathan and Martha Kent, the couple who took an alien child and loved him unreservedly, taught him to be a moral person and maintained their romance and love for reach other all their lives.
The second couple is a bit more obscure: Clarence and Faith O’Dare from James Robinson’s classic run on DC Comics’ Starman.
Christmas with The Kents
Yes, I know. So many versions of Jonathan and Martha’s story have one or both of them dying, presumably to cause angst for Clark (a character, who, by the way, needs no angst in his story.)
But the best versions of the Superman mythos, especially the holiday stories, have Martha and Jonathan very much alive and at the center of holiday cheer. Once again, I’ll turn from comics to the animation, with a Justice League animated series episode called “Comfort and Joy.”
This short tale is divided into three parts but we’ll focus first on Clark bringing Martian Manhunter aka J’onn J’onzz to his childhood home for Christmas. J’onn at first has no idea if he’ll be welcomed by regular humans, despite Clark’s assurances, because he’s obviously an alien.
Jonathan quickly allays that fear, saying that he and Martha are quite familiar with aliens in their house. It’s a lovely comment, pointing out how much Clark and J’onn have in common, but also how much Jonathan accepts his son.
Later on, we see Martha and Jonathan doing the dishes together, working in perfect sync. After everyone is relaxed, they chat at the kitchen table (naturally it’s the kitchen table) about Christmas in their home growing up. When it’s remarked that they used to have to wrap Clark’s presents with lead-lined foil to prevent him from peeking, Clark corrects them: “You mean when Santa wrapped them.”
I love this comment so much. Not only because it again shows how much love and care the Kents have for their son by adjusting Christmas wrapping for him, but also for Clark’s response. He’s literally the most powerful person on the planet and yet he’s idealistic enough to want to believe in Santa.
It’s this kind of love and affection that Jonathan and Martha provide to J’onn, even when he’s feeling lost and alone. J’onn later wanders the town of Smallville and gets to play Santa himself (wonder where he got that idea?) to a young girl. Later, he relaxes enough to sing an ode in his language in remembrance of his lost loved ones.
Wonderful job, Jonathan and Martha. The Kent home has to be the warmest house in all of superhero stories.
Bonus for romance fans: Justice League “Comfort and Joy” also features an unusual courtship story between Green Lantern and Hawkgirl, whose idea of fun is far, far from Martha Kent’s.
Plus, Flash helps Ultra-Humanite find his humanity by providing a desperately wanted Christmas gift to impoverished kids.
The O’Dares of Starman
If you’re not a big comic reader, the Starman run by James Robinson may be unfamiliar to you. But in my opinion it’s Robinson’s best work.
It centers on an unusual hero: Jack Knight, the son of the Golden Age Starman.
Jack, an antique dealer who dwells on the past, never wanted to be a superhero but after his brother is killed wearing the Starman costume, Jack knows he can’t stay on the sidelines. But he’s not a traditional hero. He rejects a traditional costume, instead going with a t-shirt, goggles, and a long flowing jacket. It also takes him time to adjust to the mindset of being a hero, as previous to his brother’s death, he’d been a bit of a selfish hermit.
The O’Dares, on the other hand, are steeped in service to others: they’re a family of police officers, though one of them is a bit of a black sheep. The eldest is Clarence, who’s married to Faith, so, naturally, they host the annual O’Dare Christmas gathering in Starman #27. There’s a lot to unpack, as there’s that black sheep son, plus their father has recently passed, and Hope O’Dare (also a cop) is romantically involved with The Shade, a sort of immortal anti-hero.
But, again, the gathering of blood and found family, is what matters in this holiday tale. That makes Jack’s inclusion all the more touching because he’s so often felt like an outsider.
However, before Jack can make it to the Christmas party, he stops to help a homeless Santa Claus that’s been robbed of a precious locket holding family memories. Jack helps find the locket, befriends the Santa, a Korean war vet, and eventually brings the “Santa” to the O’Dare family party, where he’s warmly welcomed by the other veterans among the family.
It’s a great tale about how family isn’t just about blood, it’s about fellowship and signals just how far Jack has come in his life. And in Clarence and Faith is an example of what eventually the single members of the family hope to find in their eventual loved ones. (A romance even begins at the party, with Mason O’Dare meeting his eventual love, Charity, at this party.)
Hope, Charity, Faith. I suppose Robinson wasn’t being particularly subtle but that’s okay. All those traits belong in superhero comics, particularly in stories set around the holidays.
Do you have a favorite superhero holiday story or do you think including the holidays in comic books is a bit too gimmick-y? Join the discussion on our Social Media using #SuperHoliday
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