Dec 24, 2016
The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 668: JLA #60, January 2002
As with music, I often find myself realizing that I'm stuck in a particular era. Not that I can't appreciate, or even love, the comics that come out now (witness the perfection that is Squirrel Girl), but when I go back and read the JLA from the end of the last century, I realize that this is what I imagine when I imagine the perfect superhero comics. Morrison's, and then Waid's, JLA encapsulate for me perfectly what this team is about. Much like Jonathan Hickman's Fantastic Four, this run of the world's mightiest heroes focuses not only on their world/universe-saving exploits, but also on their interpersonal relationships, on their navigation of being amongst the most powerful creatures on the planet and also being people, with lives, thoughts, and beliefs.
Waid's very short follow-up to Morrison ends with this lovely little Christmas tale, being told to Woozy Winks' son by his "Uncle Plas." The devil Neron decides to co-opt Christmas, and hands out awesome toys to children with the caveat that they must be used for evil, rather than good. Santa is trapped in Hell, and it's up to the JLA to rescue him. While this might sound a bit exploitative, and the scenes of Santa beating the heck out of little demon elves is a bit much, the final sequence, in which Santa defeats Neron by offering him a gift without requiring a deal (Neron's M.O.) is a nice reminder of how we, that being those secular amongst us, might incorporate Christmas into our lives.
I've been raised in the tradition of Christmas - being born in, and moving to, countries whose foundations are solidly in the Christian tradition, it's hard to avoid that. Part of me wonders if celebrating Christmas without the religious connotation is tantamount to cultural appropriation, but then I grab some Christmas cookies, turn off the critical voice in my head, and enjoy the warmth and love that radiates this time of year. I get the feeling that Christ, either the mythical or the real one, would have been okay with people using his birthday (not really) as a reason to be extra loving and kind to one another, regardless of faith. He'd probably have even got a kick out of today's comic.