A Tribute to the of

Merry Christmas, readers! Welcome to the final installment of the Silver Age Sage for 2019! I did a little digging around and stumbled across an interesting DC Christmas artifact. Even though Superman was only in his second year of publication, his popularity seemed to be as such that they came up with a giveaway book that could be distributed from stores or sponsors in 1940. The examples shown on the Grand Comics Database show this numberless issue dubbed “Superman’s Christmas Adventure” show examples from Macy’s, Bailey’s Department Store (George, is that you?), Molan’s Bakery and even Skippy Peanut Butter along with a blank that could presumably be filled with a rubber-stamped business. The credits, of course, are a bit sketchy, but here’s what I was able to find. The cover, his first, was by Fred Ray (and impressively, verified by him according to the GCD; also of note is his redesign of Superman's "S" emblem) with the script by Jerry Siegel and interior art by Jack Burnley. So, in the spirit of the season, let’s see what’s doing for this untitled adventure.

Things begin in the Daily Planet, where Perry White, our fearless editor, is dispatching reporters Clark Kent and Lois Lane to see what’s going on at the local Department Stores for the Christmas holidays. Lois says that it will also give her an opportunity to do some Christmas shopping. Before I get too carried away, I thought I’d point out that several times the text in both captions and word balloons seem to use the abbreviation “Xmas.” Not all the time, but often. I can’t help but wonder if the Jewish Jerry Siegel was doing a mild protest.

So, off the two reporters go and at one store, Clark notices a boy named Billy Connelly, who notes that his parents are poor and therefore he’s the closest he’ll likely get to the treasures he’s seeing in the window displays. Clark is inspired and tells Editor White that the Daily Planet needs to spearhead an effort to brighten the Christmas of the less fortunate like Billy by asking their readership to donate old toys that they can repair and distribute. Perry quickly agrees and then we see in the next panel that one of the Planet’s subscribers lives at the North Pole and the jolly old elf is enthused that he has helpers in the persons of Clark Kent and Lois Lane.

In the next scene, Clark Kent is walking by a “sumptuous apartment building” and, using his X-ray vision, sees a wealthy child named James Daniels giving his butler a hard time over the toy train he’s brought from the boy’s father, stating that he has too many toys already. He’d prefer a motorboat or perhaps a yacht.

Later that night, Superman pays a visit to the bedroom of James Daniels and awakens him, then flies him to a tenement building where they peek into a window. James sees a young girl playing happily with a broken doll. James asks how she can enjoy the broken toy and Superman replies that “Because that old toy means more to her than all your expensive playthings! She’s grateful to have even that!

The next stop is another tenement building where James sees Billy Connelly, miserable and crying in his bed because he has no toys at all. Safely back in his own bed, James says that he didn’t realize there were those out there with so little while he had so much.

In a wrenching shift change, we see a “sky-ship” making a beeline for Santa’s toy factory at the North Pole. The figure in the ship says they’re about to put an end to all this Christmas foolishness. Inside are Dr. Grouch and his associate, Mr. Meaney. Having not enjoyed Christmas as children, they’re determined to become spoilers for all children. Under the guise of being interested in toy manufacture, they approach Santa about visiting his operation. Kris Kringle agrees and soon they see the elves hard at work on what are no doubt licensed Superman novelty items.

Soon, Grouch and Meaney get right to the point, demanding that Santa change his operation to a commercial one so that they can all profit in business. Santa responds as one might hope, instructing his elves to “Give ‘em the rush act, boys!” With that, the two men are escorted out with the help of pop-guns and charged electric rods. They beat a hasty retreat in their ship and vow to show their determination by striking a blow at the Daily Planet’s toy distribution campaign.

At the Planet, Lois and Clark are busily working on the toy donations on their own after-hours time when two men with handkerchiefs to disguise themselves arrive with gas guns. Clark feigns unconsciousness and before Lois succumbs, she tears the hanky off the face of Dr. Grouch, that she somehow recognizes. Meaney, meanwhile, has set a stack of gifts ablaze and the duo depart.

Clark leaps into action afterward, blowing out the flames and then, noticing Lois coming to, goes back into his act. They vow to continue their efforts and Lois excuses herself, reasoning that Grouch’s accomplice must be Meaney and she has a notion where they might be found.

Elsewhere, at their laboratory, the pair of no-goodniks eagerly tune in the news, only to find that their plot failed. More resolved than ever, they vow to take down Santa’s factory and take care of matters at the source. They head for the ship, where the intrepid Lois Lane is a stowaway and go back to the North Pole, using their gas gun to take out the guard elf. Once inside the toy shop, they are preparing to wreak havoc when they hear Lois’ footsteps.

The next thing we know, the reporter is being lashed to a giant rocket that would make Wile E. Coyote jealous. Dr. Grouch lights the fuse and then the terrible two-some go back inside to destroy the toys. Santa, however, has been alerted to the trespassers by a photoelectric signal and deploys a battery of toy soldiers to attack Grouch and Meaney. The pair retreat, but plan to make a return appearance.

Meanwhile, back at the toy operation at the Daily Planet, Clark realizes Lois has been gone an awfully long time. He deduces that she must have gone after Grouch and Meaney and shucks his street clothes for the garb of Superman. During his flight, he spots Lois hurtling into the atmosphere on the rocket. He rescues her and places her on the roof of the Daily Planet.

Dr. Grouch has been using his handy telescope aboard the ship and observed it all. Intent on their mayhem, they bring the ship to a hovering position and Grouch abducts Lois. Soon, it’s back to the North Pole (these guys are really putting on the frequent flier miles, eh?) and do another kidnapping job, this time on Santa’s very reindeer! Santa does the only logical thing, getting on his personal radio station and sending out a distress call to Superman. Clark hears the signal in his automobile and soon a familiar blue and red figure is flying to the North Pole.

Santa quickly explains the situation, adding in the fact that it’s Christmas Eve. Superman agrees to help and is swiftly back in Metropolis when he spots a large truck being driven by Meaney. After a quick X-ray vision surveillance, the Man of Steel hoists the truck and flies to the North Pole, revealing a cargo of pilfered reindeer.

In a last-ditch effort to ruin Christmas, Meaney uses the ol’ gas gun on the reindeer. Santa begins to despair that they’ve won after all, but the Man of Tomorrow has other ideas, instructing Santa to board the sleigh and tossing Meaney in, too.

As you might have predicted, Superman provides the flight power to Santa’s sleigh and Christmas is saved. As a little bonus, Meaney is dropped down Dr. Grouch’s chimney to report that they’ve been defeated. Grouch informs his cohort that they still have Lois Lane as their captive, but then they hear footsteps in the other room. It’s Santa and Superman and the jolly old elf is leaving presents despite it all. Overwhelmed by Santa’s generosity, the pair repent of their ways and apologize, releasing Lois and vowing to be better men.

The final loose ends are tied up as Lois, Superman and Santa deliver the refurbished toys from the Daily Planet and then depositing Santa back at the North Pole. Finally, Superman pays a visit to James Daniels’ home where he finds the young man and his butler preparing to distribute his excess toys. “Know what I’ve learned? It’s more fun to give than to receive!

Our hero has a message for the readers in the final panel: “I hope all you readers will remember to be generous to those less fortunate than yourselves! --and now—Merry Christmas to you—and a Happy New Year!

Couldn’t have said it any better, Superman. This story was reprinted a couple of times, most notably in the Limited Collector’s Edition #C-43 from February/March of 1976 (which seems like an odd publication date for a Christmas special, but you know how that goes) in one of those Christmas with the Superheroes oversized books. Of particular interest, at least to me was that Sol Harrison himself was credited with coloring that Curt Swan/Bob Oksner cover. Maybe ol’ Sol was getting tired of sitting behind the executive’s desk and decided to go back to his production roots.

I’m glad I discovered this Golden Age gem and got to share it with you.

With the New Year, there will be a new Sage entry, so be sure to join us again. In the interim, feedback is encouraged, so drop an e-mail any time to professor_the@hotmail.com and we’ll get back to you quickly.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and…

Long live the Silver Age!

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