web stats

CSBG Archive

The Greatest Christmas Stories Ever Told! – #24

The countdown begins with 1940′s Superman’s Christmas Adventure #1, written by Jerry Siegel and drawn by one of DC’s Greatest Golden Age talents, Jack Burnley.

Our story opens with Clark Kent and Lois Lane killing some time near the holidays…

The kid didn’t actually say his name, Clark. Weird. I love how Santa Claus reads the Daily Planet.

Anyhow, Superman now does his best “Ghost of Christmas Present” on the spoiled rich kid…

What the hell is this space craft thing?

I would say that their parents weren’t helping Dr. Grouch and Mr. Meaney from the get go, but comedian Kevin Meaney is quite pleasant, so Mr. Meaney has no excuse! Well, besides the fact that apparently he was unloved his whole life, of course.

You have to love the subtle advertisement for all the tons of Superman toys that were available in 1940. This comic was a giveaway for department stores, so that is certainly not an accident.

So after their offer is rebuffed, their plan is to just ruin Christmas…

Dude just flat out tried to murder Lois Lane! Dang! She escapes with Superman’s help only to be captured by them AGAIN as they come up with other ways to ruin Santa’s operation, including using knockout gas on Santa’s reindeer.

This leads to Superman having to pull his best Rudolph and both guide AND carry Santa’s sleigh that night…

Forgiveness is one thing, Santa, but they flat out tried to MURDER Lois! But ah well, it is Christmas, after all!

Nice sentiment, Superman.

Very fun issue by Siegel (He smartly kept the plot extremely straightforward for the extra young audience that this comic was geared towards) and Burnley, who was clearly one of the top DC artists of the era. Heck, he was one of the top comic book artists of ANY era!

26 Comments

This was my #1, so this probably wouldn’t have made the list if I hadn’t voted. The whole concept of Superman Saves Christmas is just too funny.

The colourist’s choice of painting Santa’s dome flesh-pink with a Dr Grouch’s purple phallic rocket zooming towards it does lead to rather… Freudian implications.

@The Eye — I think you’re the only person to have even thought that.

I really liked this comic when I first encountered it in the Superman Chronicles. Superman had already started fighting super villains regularly, but he was still finding time to randomly kidnap jerks and showing them (forcibly) the error of their ways.

loved this story when i manage to find an a copy a flea market. espically the little rich boy seeing hey i need to not be such a brat any more

“Charged electric rods”?

Were kids being given electric cattle prods as toys back in the 1940s? Was this a thing?

This was in DC’s holiday-themed TPB, and it was funny as hell. Especially liked how Lois got kidnapped twice, and how much the bad guys loved smashing the toys. Good times.

“The kid didn’t actually say his name, Clark. Weird. ”

Not to mention he knew where he lived too. Must be Superman’s lesser known power of stalking.

And just curious, how much was Jimmy Olsen involved in this era of comics? I only ask because they got a redhead James in this one.

And two more random Superman things to point out.
1. He just looks through walls to spy on people? Is that his stalking power kicking in again?
2. When he uses his x-ray vision, he doesn’t remove his glasses. I was brought up on Superman lowering or taking his glasses before using his x-ray vision. Was it not the same in the good ol days of comics?

And just curious, how much was Jimmy Olsen involved in this era of comics? I only ask because they got a redhead James in this one.

Nicole: I guess the answer would be “not at all.” This story came out in 1940. Jimmy Olsen had been introduced in the Adventures of Superman radio show earlier that year (in April 1940), but he wouldn’t show up in the comics until a year later, in late 1941.

@buttler- thanks, I didn’t realize that about Jimmy.

@ Eric Henry: Santa generally kept the cattle prods for use when the elves asked for a living wage.

This is pretty great. Still full of Golden Age goofiness (“No apologies necessary, as long as you have the Xmas spirit… I mean, you did try to fucking MURDER me literally fifteen minutes ago, but whatever. XMAS!!!”), but also lots of good sentiment for kids. And a lot of charm, too.

Also, the fact that they constantly say “Xmas” instead of Christmas reminds me of “Futurama”, which is always a positive.

@Nicole — And just curious, how much was Jimmy Olsen involved in this era of comics?
@buttler — I guess the answer would be “not at all.” This story came out in 1940. Jimmy Olsen had been introduced in the Adventures of Superman radio show earlier that year (in April 1940), but he wouldn’t show up in the comics until a year later, in late 1941.

Not true. Jimmy Olsen was originally an unnamed employee of The Daily Planet who appeared in scenes in the comic where Clark/Lois were at work. I can’t recall if he was explicitly stated to be a photographer originally or not or if that came later, but he for sure did debut in the comics, making his first appearance in Action Comics #6 (in 1938 IIRC). He would only get a name later on around 1940 or 1941 or so.

As far as his overall involvement in the Golden Age, he started out in a very minor role (again, they didn’t even bother to give him a name at first) and gradually got more and more face time/dialogue until he had already been established as a major player by the time the era was coming to a close.

Ah, I wondered if somebody would drag that old saw out. That’s just an example of retroactive continuity, making the nameless copy boy with a bowtie who appeared in just one issue in 1938 into a kind of proto-Jimmy Olsen, much like a nameless black woman whom Spider-Man saved in an old issue of Marvel Team-Up was later connected to Misty Knight. Like Misty, Jimmy in fact had not yet been invented as a character when that supposed first appearance came out.

In the original script that definitely wasn’t a gas gun that the professor used, right? Prof. Grouch plain shot that elf in the face

@buttler —

You’re kind of getting into semantics now. The fact that he didn’t have any characterization beyond his appearance doesn’t mean that he didn’t exist. The comparison to Misty Knight isn’t quite the same because that didn’t establish her role/profession or define her appearance. The early version of Jimmy Olsen did both.

As far as “intent”, it doesn’t really matter and, again, is kind of an issue of semantics. He was there, even if his name and personality came later. What/who they did or did not "intend" for him to be doesn't change that. It also really wouldn't matter because they never "intended" for him to be anything else either. So there wasn't even any retconning involved in this case.

There was a blond copy boy with a bowtie in one issue. Then, two years later, Jimmy Olsen was created specifically for the radio show. Then a year and a half after that, Jimmy Olsen, the character from the radio show, was introduced in the comics. The fact that decades years later some fans said, “Hey! This guy with the bowtie is kind of like Jimmy Olsen! Wouldn’t it be crazy if it WAS Jimmy Olsen?” doesn’t mean that was some kind of evolution of the same character, fleshed out from that original copy boy to the Jimmy Olsen we all know and love. It was just a coincidence that fans later latched onto and decided to draw a connection between the two.

Also, Jimmy didn’t really catch on as a comic book character in the 1940s. He appeared a little in the comics, but not for long, and was mostly limited to the radio show where he originated. It wasn’t until the television show started in the early 1950s that Jimmy Olsen really took off as a character and started appearing again in the comics, and then he was suddenly all over the place, soon getting his own comic.

I double checked and it appears that Jimmy Olsen is in Action Comics #10 and Superman #1-2, at the very least, and all predating his appearance on the radio show. I’m calling this dude a “real” character and not just fan canon bullcrap.

Regarding his prominence in the Golden Age, my choice of words was poor. I probably should have worded it as “established as a major player after the era came to a close” instead.

I double checked and it appears that Jimmy Olsen is in Action Comics #10 and Superman #1-2, at the very least, and all predating his appearance on the radio show. I’m calling this dude a “real” character and not just fan canon bullcrap.

No, that’s just what buttler is referring to above about people retroactively saying that the copy boy in those issues were Jimmy Olsen. Heck, I don’t even know what you’re referring to with Superman #1 as there is not even an office boy in that issue (most of Superman #1 is reprints of early Superman stories from Action Comics). Superman #2 and Action Comics #6 both have office boys in them, but that’s it. They were just retroactively deemed to be Jimmy Olsen.

Action Comics #10 at least has a redheaded co-worker in a quick panel with a couple of Daily Star co-workers in it but the character is neither identified nor is there any evidence that it was meant to be anything but just some random co-worker.

He is not called Jimmy in any of these issues (nor is he given a name period).

He was not actually named in the comics until well after he had been established on the radio show. In fact, when DC did their first Greatest Superman Stories Ever Told collection in the 1980s, they specifically included the story from that late 1941 issue (Superman #13) because they wanted to honor Jimmy Olsen’s first comics appearance.

I think I’m going to use “Faugh! All these Christmas toys!” as my mantra for the next month.

I don’t get the confusion over panel 2. Given Clark’s comment we assume there was a short initial exchange between Lois and the boy which we don’t see but jump in mid conversation.

I am just checking that this as supposed to be linked to an article from Dec 1 2012. I just hope that this is the correct story rather than a mis-link.

I am just checking that this as supposed to be linked to an article from Dec 1 2012. I just hope that this is the correct story rather than a mis-link.

Yeah, I’m backdating the Greatest Christmas Stories links to keep them off of the front page.

This Jimmy Olsen business seems like it would make for a good Legends Revealed…

How is it possible that Jack Burnley doesn’t get more praise? That stuff is absolutely gorgeous, but his name rarely comes up outside of the occasional mention like this one.

The guy really deserves more praise than he gets (and the same goes for Mort Meskin.)

Leave a Comment

 

Categories

Review Copies

Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.

Browse the Archives