Saturday, September 12, 2015

DCU Holiday Bash! III

No, Bart, There Is No Santa Claus

Mark Waid & Devin Grayson Writers
Craig Rousseau Penciller
Mike Sellers Inker
Jason Scott Jones Colorist
Clem Robins Letterer
Darren Vincenzo Editor
Impulse created by Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo

Our cover is by Rodolfo Damaggio and Robert Campanella, colored and separated by Patrick Martin. It's a little tough to tell, but what we're looking at is the metallic face of the super villain Shrapnel. And reflected on his face are each of the heroes who gets their own story in this 56-page special. The concept of this cover isn't bad, but the execution is a bit lacking. At least Impulse looks halfway decent.

The Impulse story from this issue (along with Robin's story) was reprinted in 2000 a trade paperback called DC Universe Christmas. It also includes the Flash's story from the first DCU Holiday Bash, as well as a fun smattering of stories dating back to 1940. And the cover is pretty fun, as it looks like wrapping paper.

So, without further ado, let's dive into our story. It's Christmas Eve, and Bart is on his best behavior, hoping to get the hottest video game of the season, Blastomatic 3000. He even tries to reign in his super-speed, so as not to risk losing the game. Max, however, feels like Bart deserves coal in his stocking.

The impatient Bart then works his way to the presents under the tree, and Max asks him what he's thinking about. Bart tells him he wants the Blastomatic 3000, and he says he's certain Santa Claus will deliver it that night. Max thinks Bart's a little old to still believe in Santa, saying that most kids Bart's age have already decided that Santa is a highly improbable myth. Bart says Santa has secret headquarters, wears a red suit and travels at super-speed — all of which are not improbable at all in Bart's world. So Max decides to take Bart on a run to try to talk some sense into him.

Max asks Bart how Santa is supposed to know who's good and bad, and Bart says Santa can read minds like Martian Manhunter. Max asks how Santa can disappear by putting his finger to his nose and winking, and Bart says Batman can vanish without the finger. Max asks how Santa can fit down the chimney, but he answers his own question by saying he can shrink like the Atom. Max then points out that nobody is as selfless as Santa Claus, but Bart contends that Superman fits the bill. Max agrees, but says that even Superman can't be everywhere at once, showing Bart the many Santas collecting donations on the street. But Bart shows how this can be done with super-speed, by appearing to be standing next to each Santa simultaneously. So Max falls to his last resort — a trip to the North Pole. But when Bart sees the barren landscape, he comes to a startling conclusion — Santa's been kidnapped!

Bart tells Max to find Santa, while he fills in for Santa by delivering presents to everybody. Bart leaves Max in the dust, throws on a baggy Santa Claus suit, and begins handing out all of his own presents from under the tree. But those quickly run out, so Bart zips over to the Battlecomm Electronics headquarters. He happens across the company's CEO, and asks if he has any copies of Blastomatic 3000 lying around. Turns out, the company does have thousands of demo discs they were planning on mailing out for free. Bart asks if he can have some to give as Christmas presents, and the CEO says he can take as many as he wants. So Bart takes them all.

The little Santa Impulse takes the sampler games far and wide, handing them to everyone he meets. People on the street, old grandmas, guards at Buckingham Palace, soldiers at war, tourists on the Great Wall of China, and even a dog. Bart takes the last one to Max and tells him how the company let him take the free promos. Max asks what a little girl in Bangladesh is going to do with a video game, and Bart sadly says he always thought it was the thought that counts.

Max consents that Bart's intentions were good, but he reminds his young ward that he once again failed to consider the consequences of his actions. Max points out that Bart gave away all his presents, and now he'll have nothing to open on Christmas. Bart thinks Max deserves some coal in his stocking, but Max does offer to take Bart shopping once the stores open after the holiday. But to their astonishment, they find a bunch of new presents under the tree waiting for them. Bart rips open a package addressed to him from Santa, which contains Blastomatic 3000. As Bart becomes consumed by his new game, and Max confusingly stares at the new presents, neither one of them notice a figure in a sleigh with reindeer flying off in the moonlight.

What a fun Christmas story! Nobody writes Impulse better than his creator, Mark Waid, and few can draw him as well as Craig Rousseau. This was a charming little story that perfectly captured the dynamic between Bart and Max while also reminding us what Christmas is all about. And I really liked the parallels between Santa Claus and superheroes that Bart brought up. I had never thought of Santa Claus in those terms, but it fits well.

Impulse doesn't appear in any of the other stories in this issue, although Robin does get his own story, and Wonder Girl makes an appearance in Wonder Woman's story. (Wonder Girl does look and act about five years too young in the story, but that's another matter altogether.) There aren't any new ads, either, so that's it for this Christmas special.

But we're not done with Christmas, yet! Next time: Impulse #45.

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