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Crossing the Streams: Santa Claus and Superman

Here at Crossing the Streams, we check out those moments when characters who don’t normally interact suddenly do.

On paper, Superman and Santa should be fast friends. They both live at one of the Earth’s poles, they both give of themselves, and they both have a fondness for the color red. Surprisingly, they’ve spent very little page time together over the years. Occasionally, they have met and when that happens, Christmas cheer spills out all over the place. Here are those times.

The first meeting between these two icons happened very early in Superman’s career. Released just two years after Superman’s debut, Superman’s Christmas Adventure told the tale of Superman saving Santa from the evil workings of Doctor Grouch (real name) and his assistant, Mr. Meaney (probably a pseudonym because, come on).

Superman's Christmas Adventure (1940) Cover

Superman’s Christmas Adventure (1940) cover by Jerry Siegel and Jack Burnley

Grouch and Meaney wanted Santa to give them his toy shop which they’d retrofit to engage in good old American capitalism. This “giving toys to kids” thing seemed suspicious. When they were kicked out, the duo kicked their campaign up a notch by smashing toys and stealing reindeer. They were pretty standard one-dimensional villains but with names like “Grouch” and “Meaney,” it can’t be much of a surprise.

It was a light story which also featured a subplot in which Superman taught the lesson of giving and community to a spoiled little rich boy. That was nice and all, but the real joy of the story came when Superman and Santa shared some panel time together.

From Superman's Christmas Adventure (1940)

From Superman’s Christmas Adventure (1940) by Jerry Siegel and Jack Burnley

The following year, the story was turned into an audio record which featured the voice work of the Adventures of Superman radio show cast, including Bud Collyer as both Superman and Clark Kent. The Superman Homepage has a bit more information about this adaptation along with an MP3 version of it. Check it out for a little Superman Christmas cheer. Plus, Bud Collyer’s Superman remains the best Superman.

It was only a few years later that Santa and Superman once again crossed paths. This time, the villain was Mr. Rasper but he too was an evil business man with a hatred for Christmas. Instead of destroying the toy workshop, Rasper slipped Santa tainted candy which caused him to bloat and be unable to fit down a chimney.

From Action Comics (Vol. 1) #105 (1947)

From Action Comics (Vol. 1) #105 (1947) by Jerry Siegel and John Sikela

Once again, Superman stepped in to help out his old pal Santa. After agreeing to be Santa’s personal trainer and help the jolly old elf shed some serious poundage, Santa spent some time being tossed around by Superman in a variety of interesting ways before he was finally svelte enough to complete his appointed rounds. Superman even pulled Santa’s sleigh after his reindeer were, again, taken out. It’s a weird, fun story and one I wish were reprinted somewhere.

It would be another 37 years before the two would once again share space on a single page. It was in an issue of DC Comics Presents, an ongoing title that paired Superman up with other heroes, where it finally happened. In that tale, the evil Toyman was attempting to plant deadly Christmas toys around the United States in an attempt to both ruin Christmas and kill Superman. Santa was eager to help fight back.

From DC Comics Presents #67 (1984)

From DC Comics Presents #67 (1984) by Len Wein, Curt Swan, and Murphy Anderson

The story ended in a scene fans of the Robin Williams movie Toys might recall as Santa’s good toys battled against Toyman’s evil ones in a climactic showdown. Even though the story had implications that it had all been a dream, it was nice to see Santa and Superman calmly hanging out again.

“Calm” isn’t how the next pairing of these two legendary figures could be described. During an attempt to tuck his son in one night, Plastic Man became making up a Christmas story about how Santa Claus has become a fully fledged member of the Justice League. While it seemed clear that Plastic Man was inventing the story, which featured Santa battling against the demon Neron, out of whole cloth, it was a fun and raucous tale.

From JLA #70 (2002)

From JLA #60 (2002) by Mark Waid, Cliff Rathburn, and Paul Neary

Those are the few times that Saint Nicholas shared a comic with the Man of Steel. Other Superman stories occasionally hinted that Santa Claus was real and existed in the DC Universe, but they never featured the two characters getting close enough to share some eggnog let alone have an adventure together. It’s a real shame because both contain a spirit of giving and generosity that should make them fast friends. Here’s hoping we get more of this yuletide pairing in the future.