Day Seven

N.B.I really am about to move beyond comics today, but I beg of you to excuse one last relapse:

All of this “Day of Infamy” stuff reminded me that All-Star Squadron kicked off on December 7th, 1941, and the deliberate pace of the series ensured that the whole first year’s worth of issues were set at Christmas time! If you don’t know this series, or haven’t thought about it in decades, Kevin Melrose (Nov 19th) is there for you (and I’m just guessing that the folks at The Comic Treadmill know a thing or two about this as well). All-Star Squadron–and please, all you kids out there, don’t reduce this team name to an acronym, or you’ll become instantly disillusioned–was a pretty unique inversion of the usual serial super-hero procedure: instead of stretching out a few adventures over the course of decades (anything that happened in the past is always “some months ago”–anything that happened a long time ago is basically “a couple of years back”), writer Roy Thomas packed day after day of a very specific and crucial period of American history into 60+ issues! I think they had reached Spring 1942 when the Crisis eliminated most of what was formally unique about the DC Universe.

Thomas tried to forge on in an Earth-Two-less world, with The Young All-Stars, and that series was all right, but let’s face it, the lovin’ feelin’ was gone (on the bright side, all of this nonsense freed Thomas for a return to Dr. Strange…)

Anyway, issue #7, entitled “Carnage For Christmas”, features art by Adrian Gonzales & Jerry Ordway, tells the story of a Nazi plot to kill the visiting British Leader (at one point, Hawkman notes, whilst toting the portly politician, that “Churchill’s physical self isn’t much lighter than his rhetoric”), and ends with a Christmas Eve tree-lighting ceremony in Washington D.C. As always, Roy is as faithful to U.S. history as he can be, given the fact that there are guys like Superman and the Spectre traipsing through the pages he writes, and the final panel features a large chunk of Churchill’s authentic speech on a “Strange Christmas Eve”… Aren’t they all!!

Oh yeah, I’ve come across an instance of single-minded obsession that even Neilalien would be hard-pressed to match! It’s a site entirely devoted to the exegesis of Marvel Two-in-One #76, and if you haven’t seen it, you should jump over there right now–the creator (who seems to prefer to remain anonymous) actually makes it work…

Okay! In the next few days, I’ll be discussing my favourite collections of X-Mas prose–starting with Edward Wagenknecht’s Fireside Book of Christmas Stories. It’s as good as they come, and I recommend you go looking for it (it’s way out of print, unfortunately)…

And, just to tide you over, here’s a helpful reminder from the aforementioned anthologist:

It goes without saying, I take it, that most Christmas stories are bad. With the single exception of “home and mother”, no subject is more likely than Christmas to bring out all the worst faults of the mawkishly inclined, especially when they are so inclined for a consideration.

It’s true, it’s true. And yet, perhaps because of that very fact, when these stories do work, they can be incredibly powerful. I hope you’ll be here to enjoy a few of the best of them with me!

Good night friends


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