I guess if you’re a DC fan and you’re going to read something for #HolidayComicsMonth, this is one of those books that you’re eventually going to get around to? Well, I don’t think I actually planned on reading this for December, but I will say that when I came across DC Comics Presents #67 at my LCS’ quarter bin sale, I scooped it up. Yeah, I know that I can read this online, but this kind of demanded that I pick it out in the same way I would have back when I was seven years old and at the comic store or stationery store in 1984.
The issue, which is part of the Superman team-up series that began in the late 1970s and went until the end of the pre-Crisis era, is a team-up between Superman and Santa Claus against the only villain who could really be a villain in this scenario: The Toyman. We have a gorgeous cover by Jose Luis Garcia Lopez (praised be his name) showing our villain hiding behind a chimney on a snow-covered roof while Superman and Santa deliver packages for Christmas. Inside, Len Wein co-plots and scripts alongside E. Nelson Bridwell and they are ably assisted by Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson (the classic Bronze Age “Swanderson” art team). So we’ve not only got a great cover but a great row of talent giving us this story.
The conceit of the tale is that The Toyman has a new line of toys that he’s snuck into the homes of kids and these toys hypnotize children into becoming thugs bent on robbing others. Superman discovers this when he stops a kid named Timmy Dickens (get the reference?) from robbing a charity Santa and discovers that Timmy has somehow been hypnotized. Superman takes Timmy to the Fortress of Solitude, figures out what’s behind everything, gives Timmy a bit of a Fortress tour, and is about to bring him home when another toy Timmy was carrying accidentally blasts him and knocks him out, leaving them stranded in the Arctic. On a monitor, The Toyman celebrates finally killing his foe.
But they’re okay because they are rescued by Santa’s elves and they take him to the North Pole where Santa revives him and shows him the whole operation. Superman is weak so he’s going to need Santa’s help to take down Toyman and then replace all of those evil toys with genuine Santa-manufactured merchandise.
I have to admit that I’m not the hugest Curt Swan fan. I won’t say that I don’t like Swan, because I do, but my formative Superman years were the early 1990s and the artist who was my “definitive” Superman artist was Dan Jurgens, so my preferences lean toward him and that era. That being said, I don’t know if I can think of anyone but Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson to draw this story. It’s a classic type of “Superman for Kids” story that, like I said, would have jumped out at me when I was seven. Or maybe one of my aunts who knew that I watched Super Friends or something. The story is charming and fun and actually reminded me of what it was like to be a kid.
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