While in the greater Milwaukee area, we got to stop by the wonderful Neptune Comics in Waukesha and meet the owners, Lisa and Craig. Lisa writes the highly enjoyable "Sequentially Speaking" blog. The store was one of the nicest, cleanest, and most well-organized comic shops I've ever seen. It was fun to talk to them for a while, plus I managed to find a very nice copy of a comic I've long looked for in decent condition, and one that provides a perfect subject for the Christmas edition of the 100-Page Super Spectactular:
When 5-year-old Dr. K originally saw this comic, it was a bit traumatic, as the existence of Santa Claus was still plausible to me. However, the splash page managed to alleviate my anxiety by having Superman point out that this wasn't "Santa Claus" but "Santa Simpson," and I could have given a shit less if Santa Simpson got his ass blown up.
Now if only Fred Claus could be taken care of in the same way.
The murder of Santa Claus prompts Batman and Superman to hit their JLA emergency signals, though this really doesn't seem to be an emergency that the two of them can't handle. In fact, this choice seems to be purely and arbitrarily based on the fact that this murder occurred in the Justice League comic, and not World's Finest.
It's especially confusing that these heroes need help, as the poem and accompanying clue make it pretty obvious that the murderer here is the old JLA villain, The Key. Even at 5-years old, I pretty much got that one on my own.
Anyway, the signal goes out on Christmas Eve, and many of the Leaguers are preoccupied. Flash is in the future visiting his inlaws (This seems to be a weak excuse to miss the JLA signal. With time travel, couldn't he just return a few moments after he left?). Atom is exploring "a submicroscopic universe" (no wonder his wife divorced him and became a supervillain). Also, Elongated Man and his wife, Sue, are scuba diving, and therefore cannot be reached by the signal, apparently because they are under water, which seems to be a serious design flaw. For the same reason, Aquaman cannot be reached, while he is presiding over the Atlantean "Festival of Lights," which would indicate that Atlantis celebrates Hanukkah.
Green Lantern's absence from the story, however, is a bit more complicated, as has been well documented by other bloggers.
As Batman and Superman explain the mystery at hand, the android Red Tornado expresses confusion about the specialness of this particular day:
Apparently, Red Tornado has neither been watching a television nor set foot in a retail establishment between November and December. Green Arrow, however, comes to the sudden realization that he cannot logically justify the spiritual and commercial elements of Christmas.
Also, I think it's cute that writer Len Wein used red and green heroes to discuss the meaning of Christmas.
So, the heroes deduce from the rhyme that they need to go to St. Louis to find a lock to fit the key. Again, the clues "gate" and "arch" made that a no-brainer, even for a 5 year old.
Once they locate the proper building, the heroes enter, and The Key springs several traps. The first is a trap door, which causes the heroes to plummet into a pit despite the fact that three of the six can fly. As we'll see throughout this story, it seems pretty clear that Len Wein really wasn't making an effort to inject this story with such elements as logic or consistency, nor was editor Julius Schwartz interested in such matters (was he ever?).
For every trap, one or two Leaguers is apparently killed off, with Superman and Black Canary going first. By the third trap, the dangers begin to conform to the spirit of the season:
In the end, it appears that all the Justice Leaguers are defeated, but in a typical move from a Julius Schwartz-edited story, a big deus ex machina is dropped, in the form of The Phantom Stranger, who has conveniently shown up to rescue all the heroes.
In the end, The Key escapes, but the heroes rescue all the residents of the neighborhood threatened by the villain before the bomb goes off, and Green Lantern performs one last Christmas miracle by rebuilding all the homes damaged by the explosion.
Then, the heroes regroup to give Red Tornado a new uniform and discuss the true meaning of Christmas.
And with that, a Happy Holidays to all the readers of the 100-Page Super Spectacular. Look for more posts coming soon. But for now, I'm going to enjoy some of the cheese, Usinger's sausage, and Sprecher root beer that we brought back from Wisconsin.