The Comicon Advent Calendar 2022: Day 20 – Christmas With The Legion Of Super-Heroes Means Putting Up With Superboy In A Strop
by Richard Bruton
Put the eggnog on, fire up the Christmas lights, it’s The Comicon Advent Calendar with another seasonal treat for you…
Back to the late ’70s now and something wonderfully twee and Christmassy, The Legion of Superheroes in ‘Star Light, Star Bright’… from DC Special Series #21 in 1979, written by Paul Levitz, with art by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez and Dick Giordano.
Now, it’s another one that’s very much of its time and full of twee moments. But, unlike yesterday’s Daredevil Christmas tale, it’s something that’s more funny and sweet to read than it is a bit grating on my nerves. But hey, that’s just me.
So, anyway… It’s 2979 and Superboy is paying the Legion a visit to see how the new Legion HQ is coming along, musing that it’s a shame that it can’t be finished for Christmas Day. But not to worry, spirits are lifted just that little bit by Phantom Girl in full-on 70s funky costume catching him off guard…
Off they go to a couple more pages of the Legion showing off their new tech and how they look in on all the celebrations around the universe… all of which seem to, inexplicably, celebrate Christmas and use the phrase “Peace on Earth”.
And all the while Superboy’s moaning, moaning, moaning…
Now, we all know Jose Garcia-Lopez is one of the greatest of DC artists and certainly the most under-appreciated and his work throughout this story.
But I think that the second panel above may just be one of the greatest comedy panels I’ve ever seen. I like to think Paul Levitz gave Garcia-Lopez the plot and the dialogue for this one and he just decided, right, I’m making Superboy look like the whiniest baby in the entire universe. The body language, the desperate look to the stars, the clenched fist… perfection.
See what I mean?
And then, just to make it better… “aren’t you over-react–”
Oh, Wildfire, you want over-reaction, Supes Jr. will give you over-reaction right in the next panel…
Because of course, that’s exactly what you want to be doing fellow Legionnaires from all over the universe, right? You want to be going off on a fools errand to look for a possibly fictitious star from a definitely fictitious book written by and for a tiny minority of a minuscule little planet that Superboy wasn’t even born on. Absolutely.
But no, it seems the story of Jesus is (literally) a universal one in Legion lore and what do you know, it’s time to go looking for the star of Bethlehem. Yes, really.
Next thing you know, the Legionnaires are off on a Christmas quest, finding that where the star should be there’s now a planet and that planet’s about to enter an ice-age that will last centuries, dooming everything on it.
Unless… yes, everyone say it at once… Superboy can engineer some kind of Christmas Miracle.
Of course he does.
Okay, so it’s twee and it’s somewhat ridiculous and it’s corny as all hell. But it’s sweet at the same time, and it’s just funny (well, to me art least.)
And of course, it’s made exponentially better by the artwork of art by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez and Dick Giordano, displaying absolute mastery of what they do. It may well be a silly, throwaway Christmas story but the art on display is better than the majority of stuff you’ll see on much bigger characters and comics.
What’s always impressed me so much with Garcia-Lopez is just how simple he makes it look, how the anatomy is pretty much always always perfect, albeit exaggerated when it needs to be. But these are never the ‘roided up supes of later years, these are perfect physical specimens on the comics page. And then there’s the body language… exquisite.
I could keep layering praise on top of praise here, but you’ve seen the art already. And just to hammer the point home… some zooming in and blowing up of panels to make you go wow…