The Benefaction of Peace
Writer: Barry Jameson
Penciller: Graham Nolan
Inker: Josef Rubinstein
Colorist: Jason Wright
Letterer: Albert de Guzman
Editor: Darren J Vincenzo
Cover: Robert Campanella, Rodolfo Damaggio
Cover Date: January 1997
It's Christmas Eve, and a man named George is about to throw himself off the roof of the Daily Planet when he is approached by Lois. George's wife Jeannie has left him, and he is all alone and unable to cope at Christmas. As he and Lois talk, Lois tells him of a time early in Superman's career when he got lonely...
Superman saves a falling high rise worker on Christmas Day. As he patrols the city, he thinks of his lonely life having not made many friends since moving to Metropolis. As a result, he has decided to give Metropolis the gift of a Christmas without crime. He works his way around the city, focusing on larger and larger crimes, and unwittingly missing out on a series of minor incidents.
At a charity fundraiser, the proceeds are about to be handed over to a representative of a homeless shelter when a former business parter steps up with a gun, taking a hostage and attempting to steal the money. Superman arrives, and the gunman opens his jacket to reveal a dynamite waistcoat and a dead man's switch. As Superman listens to the gunman's demands, the representative steps forwards, grasping the switch, and allowing Superman to disarm the gunman. He offers to escort the representative back to his mission, and is taken up on that offer, only on the condition that he shares Christmas dinner with them. Superman agrees.
Back in the present, George decides that with a bit of hard work and luck, he can have a happy Christmas. He and Lois head off for a coffee.
I have often wondered exactly who these holiday themed issues are aimed at. As a pretty heavy comic collector, I have not only never been tempted to buy one off the rack, I've not even been tempted to visit Tor* and get one through less-than-legal means. My preconceptions of the issue are that I'm going to be fed a bunch of second-grade short stories, tenuously themed, with no real point or purpose other than the editors felt that it was appropriate to do so. And guess what? Based upon my reading of this Superman segment of the 1997 Holiday Bash, I appear to have been right.
This story can be boiled down to two elements: Superman's lonely at Christmas, so he works extra hard, and Lois saves a man from comitting suicide. The suicide-at-Christmas element could have led into a retelling of the second-most-popular Christmas story (after A Christmas Carol), It's A Wonderful Life, but it goes absolutely nowhere, instead being an opportunity for Lois to narrate the story of Superman's first Christmas in Metropolis. And let's face it, the dullness of the story would have had me jumping over the edge of the building.
There's a half-decent moment where the narration suggests that Superman's zealousness to stop all crime means that he misses out on the human moments of tragedy that he might normally have time for, which if followed up on within the story may have introduced an element of darkness into what is otherwise a very light and fluffy story. As a disclaimer, I neither own nor have read the other stories in this issue, so I am not aware if these moments play a larger role as the issue progresses... but I doubt it.
I'm gonna bring this to a close and move on. This isn't as painfully bad as some of the issues we've covered already (*cough*Action Comics #794*cough*), but it is tediously dull and adds nothing to the early years of Superman.
Next on World of Superman: We get back to the good stuff with Man of Steel #4!
*Tor is Mike and Jeffrey's friend, as mentioned on a couple of recent episodes of From Crisis to Crisis, who helps them out with certain back-issues.