Christmas Countdown: Superhero Celebrations

Superheroes celebrate the holidays with the rest of us!

Batman: The Animated Series: Christmas With the Joker (Season 1, Episode 38*)

On Christmas Eve, The Joker (voiced by Mark Hamill) escapes from Arkham Asylum, promptly captures Commissioner Jordan, Harvey Bullock, and Summer Glesson and takes them to an abandoned toy factory. He hijacks TV broadcasts to taunt Batman (Kevin Conroy), saying he’ll kill them unless Batman gets there by midnight. This, being Batman, finds Joker, frees his hostages and sends Joker back to Arkham.

While the animation in the first season of Batman: The Animated Series could be uneven, and honestly, if it wasn’t for the Christmas theme, this episode wouldn’t be particularly notable overall. There is one reason why this episode is important, though — it’s the first time Hamill voiced The Joker. Hamill’s Joker is iconic, with the perfect amount of playful, deranged menace while still being incredibly scary and evil. It’s such an incredible vocal performance.

*It was the second episode produced, though.

Batman: The Animated Series is available on HBOMax and individual episodes can be purchased elsewhere. The series is also available on DVD and Bluray.

The Tick: The Tick Loves Santa (Season 2, Episode 12)

A still from The Tick Loves SantaI have a lot of opinions about the various incarnations of The Tick, in terms of both the comic itself and its adaptations. Mostly, though, those opinions come down to “All versions of The Tick are good in their own ways.” Having said that, though, I do think the animated series is the best of all possible versions of The Tick.

The Tick (voiced by Townsend Coleman), mostly being like a child, is fooled into believing a thief dressed as Santa is the real Santa. For reasons that aren’t explained, after the fake Santa hits an electric sign, multiple copies of him are made. Now there’s an army of evil Santa clones running around.

That’s just all in the first 5 minutes, basically.

Of course, the real Santa shows up to help The Tick fight the army of evil Santas. It’s all so weird, but there’s really no other kind of episodes of The Tick. There is an odd warmth here, though, and it’s sweet that The Tick’s innocence and belief is what helps to save Christmas.

The Tick is currently streaming on Hulu and that seems to be the only place it’s currently available.

The X-Men: Have Yourself a Morlock Little X-Mas (Season 4, Episode 12)

A still from Have Yourself a Morlock Little X-MasI am not a particular fan of the ’90s X-Men animated series. That’s not to say I didn’t watch it at the time — I absolutely 100% did — but I never really thought it was good. I’m glad other people like it, though, and I’m not trying to take anything away from anyone else’s enjoyment of it.

This episode, though … I don’t know if anyone would actually call this good. I’m just including it here because it’s something you should be baffled by along with me.

This is Jubilee’s first Christmas with The X-Men, despite it being season 4 (I assume we’re using comic book time here). Jubilee is excited, Wolverine is grumpy, Jean Grey and Gambit fight over cooking Christmas dinner, and Cyclops sings badly. Then Storm, Jubilee and Wolverine go to the city to shop, although it mostly just looks like they go to a mall.

The Morlocks eventually show up to rob an ambulance because Leech is sick. In the spirit of Christmas, the X-Men go to help. Which they do eventually, through Wolverine’s mutant healing powers. I think it’s all supposed to be touching because Jubilee cries.

About 75% of this episode feels like filler and the writers just had to make sure they gave every character something to do, even if it had nothing to do with anything (which is why the show keeps cutting to Jean and Gambit in the kitchen and Beast performing experiments that go badly). Look, none of this episode makes any sense. If this was live-action, it would definitely feel like they were just making up the plot as they went along.

Still, The X-Men wish all of us a Merry Christmas at the end, according to a final screen before the credits. That’s nice of them.

The X-Men is streaming on Disney+ (it’s listed as episode 14). Individual episodes can be purchased elsewhere.

Justice League: Comfort and Joy (Season 2, Episode 23)

A still from Comfort and JoyNow we come to one of the finest holiday episodes of any show. You don’t even have to be a Justice League fan to enjoy this. You just have to like good things.

After the Justice League stops two planets from colliding, they find themselves with an unexpected holiday break. Green Lantern (Phil LaMarr) and Hawkgirl (Maria Canals) remain on the wintery planet and he tries to show her the joy of winter, which she doesn’t quite grasp. The Flash (Michael Rosenbaum) visits an orphanage and promises to find them a D.J. Rubber Ducky, that year’s hottest toy. Superman/Clark Kent (George Newbern) brings J’onn J’onzz (Carl Lumbly) to Smallville for the holidays.

It’s mostly just these characters hanging out with each other and having fun. Yes, The Flash does have a run-in with the Ultra-Humanite and Hawkgirl starts a fight because that’s how she likes to celebrate, but it’s purposefully very little action of the usual sort.

The most beautiful moments are J’onn wandering through the Kents’ house and Smallville and learning what the holiday actually means to people. It’s quiet and subtle. It’s all the more powerful because there’s no grand statement about what J’onn discovered.

This episode was written by Paul Dini and I like how much it trusts the Justice League audience in knowing there’s a space for this kind of story, too. It’s great getting to see these characters do something a bit different and just get to be themselves.

Justice League is streaming on HBOMax and individual episodes can be purchased elsewhere. The series is also available on DVD and Bluray.