Christmas with the Superheroes #2
December 25, 2017
An anthology of seasonal delights and depression!
Linkara: Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. (throws out his arms excitedly) Merry Christmas and happy holidays, my friends! To celebrate the season, we've got a long one, so let's just dig into "Christmas with the Superheroes #2", and you can all start commenting on how you like the Christmas theme song better than the regular one.
(The Christmas version of the AT4W theme plays, and the title card has "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" as performed by Judy Garland playing in the background. Cut to the cover of this comic)
Linkara (v/o): Yeah, we're going with Issue #2 for this special holiday episode, primarily because the first issue is even longer, even accounting for the fact that it has the "Teen Titans Swingin' Christmas Carol" in it that I've already covered before. Anyway, this cover is... eh... Here's the thing: I like it in concept more than execution. The pencil is Stephen DeStefano, and I'm not familiar with their regular work, but there's something about the human figures on the cover that's... off-putting. I think part of it is just a little too much unnecessary lines. I've mentioned this before: how, in comic artwork, the more lines you add to a face, the older they look. So for a lot of these characters, there's just this weird aging effect happening to them, particularly an added line on their brows. In Wonder Woman's case, it's her upper arm and shoulder, which look just a bit wrinkled. However, the worst goes to Aquaman, who's apparently 85, judging by how he's shriveling up. The cover is not helped by another thing: the elves. The idea is that the heroes are all aiding Santa and his elves make toys. It's cute and it works, but dear Lord, the elves are friggin' creepy. They all have this plastic grin like they're about to start the Purge at some point. The rosy cheeks and rosy... foreheads, I guess, are not helping, either.
Linkara: Or maybe this is what'll eventually happen to Pikachu after millions of years.
Linkara (v/o): As implied, the book is an anthology, this one all of original tales written specifically for it, beginning with a Superman story: "Ex-Machina".
Narrator: To understand, think of being bitten by flies on a steamy summer day.
Linkara: (as narrator, pointing to camera) That's what Christmas is, kids!
Narrator: The first bites are annoying, but the pain is bearable. After three, four, five... you start to get frantic. This feeling grows and grows. After fifteen, you are desperate, furious, crazy.
Linkara: (as narrator) At twenty, you start to like it and get weirdly turned on by it.
Narrator: After thirty, the pain is larger than the world. You are nothing but rage and frustration. If it was easy to do, you could kill someone, really kill.
Linkara: (as narrator) And after that, you realize, (looks up in thought) maybe I didn't need to know if you can really catch more flies with honey.
Linkara (v/o): An older man is stranded on the side of a road under a heavy snowfall, desperately calling out for passing cars to stop, but they seem to ignore him. He climbs back into inside his car, shivering, and pulls out a loaded gun from inside his glove compartment.
Man: (thinking) And she said I was a fool to get it.
Linkara: (as this man) I'll shoot the cars to make them stop!
Linkara (v/o): He writes up a suicide note, saying he's sorry, but the cold is too much and no one will stop. However, before he can pull the trigger on himself, there's a knock at the window.
Linkara: (as this man) Ha! (makes writing motions) "And my wife said drive-by caroling was a stupid idea."
Linkara (v/o): No, it's Superman, who calmly asks to get in with him and offers to warm him up. And indeed, using his heat vision to lower intensity, it's exactly what the guy needs.
Man: Aaaah... I can't tell you... how good... I never thought I'd be warm again...
Superman: I'll have to take longer to thaw your engine block and battery water, or they'll crack.
(The Superman logo appears briefly and the theme from the Superman movie plays)
Linkara (v/o): (dramatically) Superman: your own personal space heater! (the logo and music disappear; normal) He asks the man why he was about to shoot himself. He explains about the cold and how no one would stop.
Superman: It's the curve. They wouldn't see you until they were upon you. Those that did see you in this blizzard must've been afraid to brake-- this road is pure ice. And responsibility fades fast when you're speeding down the road.
Linkara: (as the man) Yeah, but that doesn't explain the dozen people who trying to swerve into me and shouting, "Thirty points!"
Linkara (v/o): Superman still feels like it's thin reasoning to kill himself, and the guy explains more. His wife is divorcing him, even helped her to move on Christmas, of all days.
Man: I'd tell you about it but we promised not to discuss it.
Linkara: (as the man) Let's just say it evolves a clown suit and things not discussed in polite company.
Linkara (v/o): He asks what Superman was doing out here so far from Metropolis.
Superman: Remember that Minute Man missile that had its fuel ignite when a workman dropped a wrench down the silo? It caused a spark, making quite a blast. Well, beyond these empty fields, out of sight of the highway, are some silos.
Linkara: (as Superman) The heat's out at my apartment and, well, (shrugs) I was getting kinda cold, too.
Man: There's been an explosion?
Superman: No, no...
Linkara: (as Superman) The technical term is (makes "finger quotes") "meltdown".
Linkara (v/o): Superman, great guy that he is, starts rifling through the dude's stuff and finds some medication. The guy is suffering from a degenerative condition and was on his way to go sell an old house of his. Supes asks if he has any family he could spend Christmas with, but the guy says not really; a daughter he hasn't spoken to in years because of his wife objecting to the person said daughter married. He thinks it'd be awkward to try to contact her now, but Supes interjects.
Superman: I don't mean to preach here, but there's one thing I know...
Linkara: (as Superman) Estranged daughters are (points off-screen) over there, and "over there" needs to take care of its own problems. (points to camera) You're doing the right thing.
Superman: No person who's lost his--or her-- parents wouldn't like to get them back. Even one of them. This is something I know.
Linkara: (as Superman, arms crossed) And let me tell you something: the Justice League needs to stop being so uptight about necromancy experiments.
Superman: My friend, your disease is a long, hard way to go. Nobody should die alone in this world. If not for yourself, do it for me. I'd like to think I didn't stop here for nothing.
Linkara: (as Superman) On that note, (holds up hand) thanks for your wallet, sucker!
Linkara (v/o): He promises to call her, and as he gets the engine started again, Superman gives him directions to, presumably, his parents' place, saying they would be happy to give him a Christmas dinner.
Superman: They're good folks. They helped me out after I had some trouble in space one time.
Linkara: (as Superman) Just don't try to go anywhere near a tornado or the older guy will just give up on life.
Linkara (v/o): And so, the story ends with the two wishing each other merry Christmas, Superman flying off – subsequently destroying the guy's gun. Not that I want him to commit suicide, but Supes, that was the dude's private property; kind of a dick move. And the guy drives off toward Smallville.
(Cut to the next story)
Linkara (v/o): From there, we move on to a Batman story: "And In the Depths".
Narrator: Dark. How long has it been dark here?
Linkara: (as Batman, arms crossed) Ever since I refused to pay that power bill. Dammit, I'm trying to mine for bitcoins here! I need that energy!
Narrator: How long since the eternal waters started their work upon this ancient rock? How long since the sculpting of this vast, empty cathedral of night was begun?
Linkara: (narrator voice) How long will that advance last before the investors get really pissed off that it's taking so long?
Narrator: How many summers have stirred the world above into teeming life? How many winters have plunged it into glacial stillness?
Linkara: (narrator voice) How many times has the driveway needed to be shoveled?
Narrator: How do we measure the countless lifetimes spent in darkness?
Linkara: (shrugs) I dunno, a really good watch?
Narrator: Far across the world above, in a rough stable, a child screams.
(Cut to a clip of the home movie clip showing a kid opening a Nintendo 64 for Christmas)
Boy: (excited) NINTENDO SIXTY-FOOOOOOOOUR!!!
(Cut back to the comic)
Narrator: For many, his birth brings a light that may never be quenched.
Linkara: (narrator voice) Thanks to Duracell.
Linkara (v/o): In case you hadn't noticed, this has all been from the perspective of a cave entrance. We see a Native American and a pilgrim at various times either staying away from the dark of the cave or wetting their pants and running for it. And then we finally see Bruce Wayne as a child, having chased a rabbit into the cave. He apparently trips and, upon getting up, spots a bat attacking and eating the rabbit.
Narrator: His widening eyes see beyond the moment and glimpse a dark destiny.
Linkara: (as Batman, wearing his mask) I'm Batman, and it's rabbit season.
Linkara (v/o): We cut to the future, where a now-adult Bruce sets up the Batcave alongside Alfred.
Narrator: The black gulf waits patiently. Waits, as on a city street above, the child screams once more, reborn in death. Waits as the child becomes a man. Waits as grim resolutions are made.
Linkara: (narrator voice) Waits and wonders if he's ever gonna get called in for his appointment.
Linkara (v/o): We cut to even more in the future, where Bruce is showing Dick Grayson around.
Linkara: (as Batman, wearing his mask and pointing) That's where you'll have to eat rats, (points in another direction) and that's where I'm gonna call you "retarded" for insulting my car.
Linkara (v/o): We even see a Christmas between Bruce and Dick, where his present is a Robin costume.
Linkara: (as Dick) Well, thanks, Bruce, but I was kinda hoping for some Transformers.
Narrator: Contrasting, yet alike, they bond in unity.
Linkara: (narrator voice) At least until the subject of rock 'n' roll is brought up.
Linkara (v/o): The narration continues, talking about how, over time, the darkness seemed to recede, and it was less about vengeance and more about adventure between the two, even gathering trophies of said adventures, which just begs the question of what villain did these two fight where they took a Christmas tree as a trophy. However, of course, eventually, darkness must return as Dick grew older and left his role as Robin, giving his costume to Alfred to hang up and the two parting.
Narrator: The petrified icicles weep, by tears growing in stature.
Linkara: (narrator voice) The icicles supplied themselves with onions so that they might grow into giants.
Linkara (v/o): It continues like that, with Alfred needing to help Bruce out of the Batmobile one night.
Linkara: (as Batman, wearing his mask) Alfred! One-Face is trying to steal Christmas!
Linkara (v/o): And geez, apparently, they can't have the tree in the cave anymore, so Alfred is just hanging up a wreath. Back in the cave narrative, a bird flies into the cave to escape the cold.
Narrator: The world can be cruel to the innocent. Lost in the abyss, they may lose sight of the sky.
Linkara: (narrator voice) Then the hail starts falling, and they're quickly reminded of its location.
Linkara (v/o): A bat comes down and tries to attack the bird, but it gets up and fights back, the narration saying that hope can still rise up, and the innocent can be saved. The bird then manages to escape the cave and fly off into the night, ending the story.
Narrator: For without darkness, light has no meaning. And long though the night has been... it cannot last forever.
Linkara (v/o): Also, Jesus is being born again near Gotham, based off of the star in the sky.
(Cut to the next story)
Linkara (v/o): We next move into a Wonder Woman story: "Gifts".
Linkara: Oh, Fir Balsam, I am going to take your chopped-up remains to all my friends, and you shall forever be known as "The Giving Tree"! (grins evilly)
Linkara (v/o): It starts with Diana having a nightmare where three things happen simultaneously. A friend of hers named Myndi talks about how Diana inspired her with a message about love and peace... AND THEN SHE DIIIIIED!! Hermes shows off Boston, Massachusetts... AND THEN HE DESTROYS IT!! And finally, Zeus says that he's gonna give a gift to Diana: that they must sleep together... AND SHE DARE NOT REFUSE!!
Linkara: 'Tis the season to be jolly, so enjoy these three horrific things!
Linkara (v/o): Frankly, I'm surprised Zeus doesn't hit on Wonder Woman all the damn time. Dude would screw a chair if he thought it looked sexy enough. Although, maybe he's actually a Swalot in disguise. Look at him friggin' melting here! Diana awakens, and we cut to... well, not exactly sure of the city, but apparently features supporting characters from Wondy at the time: 1989. It's December 23rd in a house near the woods and the home of Julia Kapatelis, who served as Wondy's mentor in her own book at the time: an archaeologist with her daughter Vanessa, who in turn would go on to become the villain Silver Swan. For now, though, Julia is being greeted by an arriving friend, Pastor Sharon Jackson. Her arrival for Christmas was a bit short notice, and we quickly learn why. Her husband is having an affair with a woman on the church council and he asked for a divorce a few days ago.
Linkara: (as Sharon) He's gonna try to drive up to the city and sell a house on Christmas. I'll get back at him, though. I've rigged his car to break down and he'll freeze to death!
Linkara (v/o): Apparently, the whole congregation knows about it, and she's feeling understandably crappy about the whole situation. Julia reassures her that she has a gift to touch people with love and hope and stuff, but Sharon thinks this might be a sign from God to leave her ministry and go back to school. Vanessa runs in.
Vanessa: Yay! Vacation! Free!! For two whole weeks! FREE!!!
Linkara: (laughs) I've been doing this for over nine years, and I've gotten maybe (holds up index finger) one vacation, which was apparently (holds up hand, one of whose fingers has a wedding ring on it) more of a wedding! (sighs) I miss high school. (beat) Wait, no, I don't. (another pause) What were we talking about?
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, on Christmas Eve morning, Wonder Woman arrives while Sharon's out for a walk, the two meeting each other.
Wonder Woman: Julia's spoken of you--you're the Christian minister? I've read much about the Christian religions...
Linkara: (as Wonder Woman) If I were to inexplicably lose my powers along with other superheroes, (strokes chin and looks up in thought) I bet I'd become a Catholic.
Linkara (v/o): The two talk about how they have a similar mission, to spread love and peace, though Diana points out that their theological bases are different.
Sharon: Do you really believe in the ancient Greek gods?
Wonder Woman: Oh, yes! I've met them and seen them in their glory.
Linkara: (as Wonder Woman) My religion has demonstrable proof of its existence! (laughs) Anyway, what's this holiday we're celebrating? Swiss Miss or something? Sounds odd to venerate hot chocolate, but whatevs.
Wonder Woman: Lord Hermes has even been to this world. In fact, he has stood where you stand now.
Linkara: (as Wonder Woman) I dream of him leveling your cities!
Linkara (v/o): Sharon's of course a bit taken aback by that. But enough contemplation about faith in a world with literal gods in it; Christmas! Dinner to be had, carolers to be watched, hymns to be sung, and finally, it's an early Christmas morning as Sharon finds Diana watching snow fall out the window. The dream we saw at the beginning just happened, and she's contemplating whether or not she's actually accomplished anything since coming to Man's world.
Wonder Woman: Though my gods have helped me in the past, sometimes they have been cruel. Now I feel abandoned by them.
Linkara: (sarcastically) A feeling that I'm sure I will never have again over the next three decades.
Linkara (v/o): Sharon reassures her to hold fast to her beliefs, that even if it seems like most of the world is ignoring her teachings, it'll reach somebody and it will grow.
Wonder Woman: But it's so difficult...
Sharon: Diana, I know, but believe me, if it weren't so difficult, the good wouldn't be so important.
Linkara: (as Sharon) There's no such thing as being good easily. All goodness is an eternal struggle that we are punished for.
Linkara (v/o): But yeah, it's nice, and during Christmas morning proper, gifts of ugly dresses are exchanged, and the story ends with Sharon declaring that she's gonna stick to her guns as a minister so that she can continue to help people as best as she can. Aw, that's sweet.
(Cut to the next story)
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, here's a soldier's hospital in World War I. The story is "Silent Night", and it's done entirely without speech bubbles. It's admittedly a bit confusing as a result of that, but you get the gist of it for the most part. John Byrne wrote and penciled it, but apparently the reason why it's done silently is... kind of goofy. The story features a longtime DC war character named Hans Von Hammer, AKA Enemy Ace. Byrne had wanted to do a story featuring the character for a while, and the Christmas anthology gave him that opportunity. Only problem is that nobody at DC at the time apparently knew if Hans von Hammer could speak English, so he just decided to make the comic without dialogue balloons.
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, the story starts with a nurse approaching a wounded soldier, who's drawing a few pictures of German planes and pilots, probably just for funsies, but then a guy missing a leg comes by and slaps the papers away and grabs the guy. The implication of the shot featuring a list of missing pilots, probably dead ones, is that this guy is pissed he's taking the war so lightly – or at least making art seemingly glorifying the people who killed their fellows. Or maybe he's just pissed because he stole his pencils and paper. In another pullback shot, we see a cook trying to make dinner, with a sign indicating that it's been two weeks without resupply for the hospital, probably a result of the blizzard outside. Enter Enemy Ace, who lands his plane and brings supplies to his own enemies. The people are so grateful for this gesture that they invite him in to join him for dinner, and he ends up dancing with that nurse from before. He even salutes the missing personnel list, showing he has respect for his enemies. Unfortunately, that does not extended to Headwound Harry here, who I guess was inspired by the one-legged man, since he raises a gun on their savior. However, the same guy gets him to lower the gun and tells him to clean that waffle off of the ceiling. It's clear that this brief piece is over with and Hans should leave, which he does so – and immediately crashes again, as implied by this shot. What? I knew that was there at the beginning, too, but you don't show a plane taking off and then cut to a shot of a plane crashed and gray!
Linkara: Oh, my God, he was a ghost this whole time!
Linkara (v/o): Time for a Christmas romp with Flash and Green Lantern in "Roll Call".
Narrator: Once upon a time, long before the JLI, there was the JLA, and its heroes circled the Earth in a giant star made of glass and steel.
Linkara: (dramatically) This artificial star spelled doom for all humanity, as its intense heat boiled the planet below!
Narrator: They were bound together with ties of duty and friendship...
Linkara: (narrator voice) And the fact that both would be dead in a few years before being resurrected and pushing aside far more interesting characters.
Linkara (v/o): The two are on monitor duty at the Justice League orbiting satellite on Christmas Eve. Hal looks over a few presents.
Flash: Is that your present from Green Arrow?
Linkara: (as Green Lantern) Yeah, the jackass always puts a yellow ribbon on it because he thinks that way I can't open it. Joke's on him; I just end up giving it to Batman and pretending it's from me. (gestures toward himself with thumb)
Green Lantern: Uh-huh. It's Das Capital [sic]. He gives it to me every year.
Linkara: (as Green Lantern) I've made a tiny fort in my apartment with them.
Green Lantern: I think this is his way of making sure I read it!
Linkara: He get really when I said I would just watch the movie.
Flash: Yeah. Presents are a strain. This one is from Wally. It's socks. It's always socks. Yellow ones with tiny blue clocks. I have 75 pairs.
Linkara: You know, I bet most adults friggin' love getting socks. I know I do. It saves me a trip to Target. And yellow ones with tiny blue clocks sound even more awesome!
Green Lantern: Look – monitor duty's over! Let's go someplace!
Linkara: (as The Flash) But we only started an hour ago. (as Green Lantern) Yeah, and the bars just opened an hour ago, too, so let's go!
Linkara (v/o): He suggests they could go to a small town to have an old-fashioned Christmas, although I'm just curious why they aren't waiting for the next person on the shift rotation to arrive for monitor duty. Unfortunately, the place they end up going to is not what they were expecting.
Hal Jordan: Good plan.
Barry Allen: We'll just end up stopping for a pizza. Geez... It's raining, not even snowing. Bummer.
Linkara: (as Barry) And it's not like we could go to another place, using a powerful alien ring or your superspeed or something.
Linkara (v/o): They spot a charity bell ringer and figure that'll raise their Christmas spirit.
Hal: There you go, pal. Merry Christmas.
Bell ringer: Yeah, right. Money! That's what Christmas is about, isn't it? You're nothing without money. People are scum!
(Cut to a clip of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 gang watching Hobgoblins)
Mike: You and your stupid thoughtfulness can go to hell!
(Back to the comic again)
Barry: Well. I certainly feel more warm and Christmassy!
Linkara: (as bell ringer) That's because I peed on your leg, asshole! (cups hand over mouth) Merry Christmas, ya money-having dirtbag!
Linkara (v/o): They spot a man being mugged and of course intervene.
Green Lantern: Brother! A wonderful Xmas!
Flash: Let's get this over with!
Linkara: (as Green Lantern) Ugh! I wish we could stop helping people today. I want to appreciate the true meaning of Christmas, damn it!
Linkara (v/o): The muggers are taken care of, but the victim isn't all that happy about it.
Victim: You might as well have let them kill me! Life is meaningless.
Linkara: So apparently, Barry and Hal picked the town where everybody's antidepressants were replaced with downers! What the hell is this place?!
Linkara (v/o): He introduces himself as C.B. Fenster, and Barry recognizes him as one of the richest men on Earth. He says wealth is meaningless when hope is gone.
Fenster: Tonight, I realized that humanity is worthless! Tonight I offered a fortune to any of my guests-- the best and brightest-- who could prove to me there is a Santa Claus. All refused! They laughed!
Linkara: (frowning) You're an idiot, aren't you?
Linkara (v/o): Oh, but let us hear out his reasoning for why a bunch of people who probably thought he was joking equals the worthlessness of humanity.
Fenster: When I was a child, people were warm... friendly. Everyone was happy. Now people are small and greedy. They have withered, evil souls! The difference is Santa Claus! When Santa Claus existed, he brought joy into the world! Now there's nothing!
Linkara: Oh, okay. Thanks for clearing that up. (laughs) You are an idiot.
Fenster: I'd be willing to give five million dollars to anyone who could prove to me that Santa Claus exists in this town! But you won't. No one will! No one is worth a damn!
Linkara: (as Fenster) Everything is terrible because of my made-up nostalgic delusions about the value of people being related to the flying man who gives toys made by elves to children! Screw the whole world because people refuse to give me proof of his existence!
Linkara (v/o): The Flash gets some inspiration from this and discusses a plan with Green Lantern: using his superspeed to get a bunch of toys from Hawaii, along with a Santa suit for Fenster.
Fenster: Bah! Fine! Now I'll prove that people aren't worthy of Santa Claus!
Linkara: (as Fenster) Small children are undeserving of joy and merriment! (clenches fist) I will show them the meaning of loss!
Linkara (v/o): But no, they bring him along on a little Santa mission across the town, having him stop by a bunch of houses and drop off presents for kids, help a woman assemble some bikes for her kids, spend some time with a man alone for Hanukkah, until finally, they find a house that's been burnt out, the home of a family called the Harpers, but they're gone. Flash and GL claim that they've failed, since Santa doesn't overlook anyone, but then Fenster spots a nearby car. Inside is the family living out of it because they can't afford a place to live anymore. He offers the family toys, but the father says the people in the nearby homeless shelter deserve it more.
Mr. Harper: See these? They're presents for Mary. She loves sardines!
Linkara: (as Mr. Harper) My son doesn't get sardines, though! He was the one who burned down the house.
Linkara (v/o): However, Fenster offers to help them, which was really Flash and GL's point: that he is the Santa he's been looking for. He offers them the five million dollars, but of course the heroes turn him down.
Green Lantern: You know, Fenster, people aren't really so bad. There are a lot of folks out there trying to do the right thing and being happy about* it! They could use your money, sure... but what they need is someone who really cares.
- NOTE: Green Lantern actually says "...being happy at it".
Linkara: (as Mr. Harper) Uh, we really need the money, actually. (as Green Lantern) Shut up, Harper! What you need is care! (as Mr. Harper) I ate my shoe yesterday to stay alive. (as Green Lantern) And we care so much.
Fenster: You know--I never thought of it quite that way before.
Linkara: (as Fenster) I'm kind of a moron, in case you hadn't noticed.
Linkara (v/o): The story ends with them bringing together a bunch of people, most likely at the Jewish guy's house because of earlier expressing that he was lonely.
(Cut to the final story in the anthology)
Linkara (v/o): And thus, we move on to our final story of the anthology: "Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot". We open on a guy exiting his car.
Narrator: I've been scoping this one out for about a week now. John Turner Danforth. 45 years old. Net worth, around 65 million. King of the leveraged buy-out.
Linkara: (as narrator) He, too, has stopped believing in humanity, but in his case, because people couldn't prove the existence of the Easter Bunny.
Linkara (v/o): The narrator explains that he bought up a supermarket chain and sold it off piece by piece, gaining a hefty profit for himself while putting 50,000 people out of work. However, a glowing change goes over the guy.
Narrator: Uck! He feels cold--wet-- inside. It's like shrugging into a cashmere coat dipped in salad oil.
Linkara: (as narrator) Turns out it was just because he frequently pees himself.
Linkara (v/o): The narrator shows off, using the guy's body to send a bunch of gifts to people, as well as providing all the laid-off employees with six weeks of severance pay. And of course, we're now privy to our narrator's identity: Deadman. I briefly talked about him in the "Blackest Night" review. His real name is Boston Brand, a circus performer who, after having been murdered, becomes a ghost able to possess people and fight injustice, originally just to solve the mystery of his own murder.
Deadman: (narrating) Christmas is not my favorite time of year. Too much damn goodwill floating around.
Linkara: Oh, Boston, Flash and GL would show you a place where you would fit right in.
Linkara (v/o): Actually, it's more like he has less things to do and more time to be alone with himself, since, you know, being a ghost and all, he can't really attend Christmas dinner.
Linkara: He tried being the Ghost of Christmas Future for a while, but sometimes the Scrooges he dealt with didn't really get it and then he started yelling at them and that kind of ruined the mystique.
Linkara (v/o): He says that he's tried to spend time with his still-living friends in the circus, but it's just too weird for them to have the dead guy hanging around in someone else's body.
Deadman: (narrating) That's the problem. Anyone who can even see me has tsuris of their own; Christmas, Hanukkah, they're the few moments of peace and normality they get in a year.
Linkara: (as Deadman) Except for Saturnalia. That just ends up being a really bitter, traumatic experience for them.
Linkara (v/o): Deadman possesses a guy who's ice-skating with his girlfriend.
Deadman: (narrating) Good body. Strong, athletic, and... ah... aroused. Definitely aroused.
Linkara: Enjoy the Christmas boner, kids!
Linkara (v/o): At first, he's gonna leave his body, but when his date kisses him, Deadman decides to stick around for the party. He's swept up in the normalcy of it, getting to hang out with people and just have a fun Christmastime with friends and loved ones. But when they sit down to dinner, he realizes he's stealing someone else's Christmas.
Deadman: (narrating) I try to tell myself how lucky he is, how I'm only stealing a fraction of his life-- but however I look at it... I'm still stealing it.
Linkara: (as Deadman) And I won't be able to fence it until the new year.
Deadman: (narrating) What if this "lucky guy" were to die tomorrow? What if this were his last Christmas?
Linkara: (as Deadman) Then he'd be a ghost, too, and it would be super awkward between us.
Linkara (v/o): He leaves the guy's body and departs out to the street. When Deadman possesses someone, they don't have any memory of it occurring, so as far as that guy is concerned, he just blacked out from ice skating and ended up at Christmas dinner. It's something Deadman himself recognizes as pretty crappy. It's important to remember that character flaws are not the same as story flaws. Deadman's moment of weakness does not make him unsympathetic, especially when he's ashamed of it. Once outside, he screams to Rama Kushna, the being that made him a ghost, that this a crappy reward for all the years of service. However, a blonde woman shows up who's able to see him.
Woman: Cute costume. Very seasonal.
Linkara: All the logical problems people bring up about Santa Claus are easily solved when you realize he's a ghost!
Deadman: Who are you, one of Madame Xanadu's smartass mystic friends?
Woman: Me? No, magic and I have never been boon companions, I'm afraid.
Linkara: (as this woman, holds up index finger) Although I can do a mean Olivia Newton-John impression.
Linkara (v/o): Deadman is confused about who she is, but she says it doesn't matter. She also wonders if this is about wanting recognition and glory.
Deadman: (narrating) I've been feeling like Job. And here she was, making me feel like Judas. And I didn't know why.
Linkara: (as Deadman) And then one time I felt like Jonah, but that was because I was teaming up with Aquaman to fight a whale monster.
Linkara (v/o): She has him take off his mask, which is something I hadn't really thought of before; when you're a ghost, what are your ghost clothes made out of? Did your clothes die, too? Erm, anyway, she explains that they fight the good fight not for the recognition, but because it needs to be done.
Woman: Because if we don't, no one else will. And we do it even if no one knows what we've done. Even if no one knows we exist. Even if no one remembers we ever existed.
Linkara: (as Deadman) You're right! Thanks for that, uh... (pauses awkwardly) Um... I'm sorry, who are you and what were we talking about? God, it sucks that nobody acknowledges the good deeds I've done.
Linkara (v/o): He apologizes and says he's a real jerk, but she just smiles and says it's because he's only human.
Woman: Don't be ashamed of it; rejoice in it. Because it means your spirit-- as flawed or selfish as our spirits can be*-- is still alive.
- ANOTHER NOTE: The woman says "sometimes" in between "can" and "be".
Linkara: (as the woman) Rejoice in how you almost stole that guy's Christmas!
Linkara (v/o): She says her farewells to him, that she has business to attend to, but he asks who she is and why she can see him. And thus, her identity is revealed.
Woman: My name is Kara. Though I doubt that'll mean anything to you.
Linkara: Yep, as far as I know, the first appearance of the original Supergirl after her death in "Crisis on Infinite Earths", and her subsequent erasure from DC Universe continuity. She expresses a poignant, beautiful sentiment that reflects how heroic and wonderful she was, even if nobody in the DCU remembers her. So, what the hell business did she have to attend to?
Linkara (v/o): Like, did she throw a holiday party for all the other retconned versions of characters? I mean, it's gotta be confusing, especially when there are, like, three different versions of Jor-El she has to invite, plus the many defunct versions of the Legion of Superheroes. Yeah, we'll be getting to them a bit next year. And so, our story – and our comic – ends with Deadman admitting that while he may not know anything about her, he'll never forget what she gave him, and wishes her a Merry Christmas, whoever she might be.
Linkara: This comic is, overall, pretty good, and it's best to evaluate each story on its own.
Linkara (v/o): "Ex-Machina" is a bit of a sweet holiday story. Not related too much to the season, but it's a good reminder of how human kindness is so important. It may not be the cheeriest Christmas story, but it does warm me up. "And In the Depths" is... not that great. It has some good ideas and moments, but it's a bit too abstract for my tastes. Still, I do like the message that we are not forever engulfed in darkness. "Gifts" is a smaller story about two people rediscovering their faith in the face of despair and works a lot better in that regard. Just a good little Christmas story. "Silent Night" is good stuff, too. One of the things about the season that I love is that more often than not, it's a time of peace and goodwill, so it's nice to see even bitter enemies sharing a moment of respite and respect. "Roll Call", while having the germ of a good idea and a guy who's become embittered about mankind rediscovering humanity, is... bad. Fenster's reasoning for hating humanity is lame and dumb. And finally, "Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot" is a classic, still talked about today, mostly about the reappearance of Kara, but the lesson itself is reflective not only of the season, but for all people to come, that to do good should be justification in itself all times of the year.
Linkara: From all of us here at Atop the Fourth Wall, I just want to wish you both a Merry Christmas, and most especially, happy holidays. This season is not always joyous for many out there, but I hope this episode and all the episodes to come will bring some happiness to you. I'll see you all next week for my top 15 favorite episodes of the show and the beginning of the tenth anniversary celebration.
(End credits roll)
There is of course a difference between stealing money from a rich douchebag vs. stealing time from some decent guy, but it is slightly hypocritical to disparage stealing when Deadman engages in that at the beginning of his story.
The town motto of that place Flash and Green Lantern visited? "Take Your Christmas Tree and Shove It."
(Stinger: The panel showing Deadman possessing the man ice-skating is shown again)
Linkara (v/o): Boston Brand: dead man and dead creepy.