Fire & Water #182 – Christmas Comics

It’s that time of year again, so Shag and Rob are back to discuss two of their favorite Christmas comics! First up is “Merry Christmas, Justice League–Now Die!” from JLA #60 by Mark Waid, Cliff Rathburn, and Paul Neary, followed by “Who’s Afraid of the Big Red S?” from BATMAN AND THE OUTSIDERS #19 by Mike W. Barr and Jim Aparo!

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Opening theme, “That Time is Now,” by Michael Kohler. Closing music by Daniel Adams and Ashton Burge of The Bad Mamma Jammas!

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24 responses to “Fire & Water #182 – Christmas Comics

  1. Shag — If the HOUSE OF MYSTERY story included in that Christmas special is “The Night Prowler” from issue #191, I’ve got that story and it’s already scheduled for coverage on Midnight…The Podcasting Hour to be released on Monday, December 25, 2017.

  2. Really felt the love on this one, guys.

    Thank you for the mention of the Roy Thomas song, Shag. I don’t really know how that went over and am glad to learn someone liked it.

  3. I love Jim Aparo’s Superman too. I don’t think there are more than 5 stories where he drew Supes. This and Brave & Bold 150 are the only ones I can think of off the top of my head.

  4. Batman & the Outsiders was the first book I started buying from #1 when I began collecting comics. The villains could be a little goofy but the team had real heart & affection for each other. I really don’t understand why some look at them so derisively. This era of comics didn’t wallow in cynicism to be effective.

    The Katana who appeared on the team was the most serious member but no where near as dark as she is today. I don’t know if Halo is a part of that DC Superhero Girls line but it seems to me like she’d be a perfect fit to appeal to little girls. Heck, Geo-Force could show up there as the hunky royal foreign exchange student. Thanks for reminding me of the Outsiders – it’s been too long since I had thought of them.

  5. Dangling question — what was up with Katana?

    Also, how Halo reacted to Superman is how Rob and I react to Luke Daab.

  6. Great episode, though I have to admit I’m surprised Rob didn’t choose the Outsiders Christmas issue with the Phantom Stranger.

    Rob mentioned Halo’s Late Night with David Letterman t-shirt and how Mike W. Barr made an effort to place his comics into the real world of the time. That was one my favorite things too. Their 1984 annual was a take on the novel 1984, and at around the same time they saved the Los Angeles Olympics. The weird thing is, Halo had a boyfriend named Phil Collins. Given that the other Phil Collins was as popular as he would ever be at this time, I wondered whether Barr knew what he had done.

    I’ll have to dig out my JLA 60. I love Superheroes and Santa. I got to thinking, since nearly every mythology is real in the DC universe, one would think Santa should be kind of the go-to guy whenever there’s a crisis at the north pole or when they need to go to every house in the world in a few hours. He also knows the moral status of every person on earth, and whether or not they’re awake, which would make him a good ally for the Spectre.

  7. I haven’t read either of these but they sound like a ton of fun. I especially like the idea of Halo being immediately smitten with Superman.

    I am a sucker for comic holiday stories. I always bought those holiday anthology books that DC put out over the years. And there are some wonderful stories in there. This should be a tradition.

    Of course, my favorite Christmas comic story is ‘Should old acquaintance be forgot’, an Alan Brennert story that Rob and I covered here before. But there are plenty more that I hope will be covered here eventually.

    Thanks for the early present!

  8. Hey gang! It’s been a LONG time since I’ve been able to comment here. I’ve fallen way behind on your podcast, unfortunately, but I had to make time to listen to this one. Why? Because: Batman and the Outsiders! Just a couple of random thoughts about that issue:

    – Jim Aparo draws a helluva Superman. Man, I wish he’d been able to draw him more.
    – That cover is fantastic, which is par for the course with BATO – they had wonderful covers, during both Aparo’s run and Alan Davis’s run.
    – Always liked Halo, even though she was a wee bit infantilized at times. Her costume was terrific, very simple yet memorable and the primary colors really pop against the black. Her scenes with Superman here are charming as hell.
    – I’m with Rob: seeing Batman and Superman as friends is what they were when I first started reading comics in the early 1980s. So that tends to be how I best like them.
    – Mike W. Barr wrote some of my favorite Batman stories in the 1980s, including his entire run on BATO. Also highly recommend his Batman Special #1 with some of the best art of Michael Golden’s career – and that’s saying something because Golden is almost always great.

    It’s been a long time since I’ve commented here, as I said, so it’s possible everyone has forgotten that Shag dogged me about starting a BATO for most of 2015. Sadly, I’m still not planning to do that, sorry. I absolutely love BATO and do want to write about it, but my blog and the websites I write for cover a very broad spectrum of pop culture stuff – movies, music, books, comics, etc. That tends to suit my style best, as my interests are all over the place! So while I’d love to hunker down and start up a BATO podcast, I just don’t think I have the attention span for it. I envy you all here at the Network for your ability to exhaustively cover one subject with each blog or podcast. What I might do someday is start writing about BATO in installments on my blog, or maybe even for Sequart (I contribute there: If I ever do this, I’ll keep y’all posted.

    And totally unrelated, but I know Rob and Shag love movies, as do most of you that follow the Network I assume. I also write about movies for a very cool website, The After Movie Diner. They are a genre movie fan’s dream, offering great coverage of horror, sci-fi, action, fantasy, etc. I do a regular Cult Classics column and I’ve covered a bunch of great (and so bad they’re good) films so far. Here are my articles and reviews:

    Rob, Shag, I hope you have a happy holiday season!

  9. That was a lot of fun! I know I must own JLA #60, but I am drawing a total blank on this one, which is odd, because I LOVE me some Christmas comics! I’m going to have dig out my JLA longbox and put this in my Christmnas reading pile!

    I’ve always loved this issue of BATO. I remember being kind of shocked by the subject matter, and I’m not sure I completely understood it (I was just turning 10). But anytime Aparo drew Superman was a real treat. I miss the friendly but authoritative Superman we get here. Definitely hear the Super Friends Danny Dark when he’s being this confident.

    I actually briefly touched on this story in Back Issue #85 last year, while covering Bronze Age Batman Christmas stories. Barr and Aparo did three Christmas tales in Outsiders, and one in B&B, so clearly, they were fans of yuletide tales!

    My BATO collection has some holes thanks to the newsstand. Time to go look for that Showcase Presents volume…


  10. The detail on the cover I thought Shag was going to pinpoint was that the image being a reflection, both chest emblems would be reversed. But I don’t care! Aparo did no wrong!

    And yeah, he rarely drew Superman, but it was a treat when he did. This issue, DUH, plus B&B 150, Batman 429 (Death in the Family) and BatO 1. Honorable mention to Superboy & Supergirl’s respective B&B issues. Aparo also did tons of covers featuring the Man of Steel:

    Happy holidays, gang!

    1. That line has always worried me in that episode. It’s raised an eyebrow or two in our house, but our kids never flat out asked us about it, so we just played dumb. Definitely a case of the creators skewing the show toward an older audience…which Cartoon Network was constantly harping on them about.


  11. Fun episode, I love Christmas stories, though neither of these are in my top however many … I’d have been hard-pressed to recall them off the top of my head, but they’re both decent. I love Aparo’s Superman, seeing him was always a treat. And while I generally like the Rathburn art, I’m not keen on his Plas – too bumpy, Plas should be smooth. And I’m with Shagg, so long as Elongated Man is around, Plas has no place in the JLA. Now put him with the Outsiders and I’d be interested.

    And if you want more Christmas story picks, I did a ‘listicle’ (ugh) last year… I left Supergirl and Deadman out, as that’s been, quite rightly, lauded so much.

  12. Great episode, guys! I always enjoy these one-offs — you sound like you’re having even more fun than usual.

    For some reason, Batman and the Outsiders was one of those comics I really latched onto when it first came out. At some point, though (around the Maxie Zeus/Olympics issue?), I just lost interest. It might be time to go back for a re-read!

    But, c’mon, Shagg — no love for Plastic Man?! I’m with Rob on this one; I love Plas as an active member of the JLA. I didn’t always like the way they often portrayed him as a child-like savant (maybe reinforcing that Saturday morning cartoon aftertaste), but I thought he worked great with the team. And, of course, he was perfect for the quick one-and-dones like this.

    The only question I have is, do I write a letter to Santa asking him to bring Shagg (and now you, too, Martin!) a lump of coal this year? Then again, he did bring a Plas story to your listeners … aw, heck, it’s Christmas!

    Have a great holiday season, everyone! (And read more Plastic Man!)

    1. I love Plas, Max, but not when he stops me seeing Ralph – I want both operating simultaneously in different parts of the DCU. But the JLA is Ralph’s territory.

      And I will happily take the coal – coming from several generations of coal miners on both sides and the family, I get nostalgic.

  13. I think I am one of the few people that did not like Aparo’s take on Superman. Weird that.

    At one point in the conversation about the BATO issue that Geo-Force simulated Krypton’s gravity and Shag didn’t know if that worked or not. It does. Kind of. Fun fact about the Earth-1 Superman; while some of his powers (the vision ones and flight come to mind) derive from Earth’s yellow sun the fact that Earth had a lighter gravity would have made him stronger and faster than a normal human. I don’t know exactly when they decided to start splitting this hair but if I had to guess I would say that one or more of the writers decided to combine the two most popular explanations of why Superman is so super. In the early days it was Earth’s lighter gravity that did the trick and eventually it was the yellow sun and then it was decided that it was a combination of the two.

    A little over complicated? Maybe but that’s the Bronze Age for you.

    So Geo-Force’s attack would have had some effect.

    And now you know.

  14. First off, I want to wish Shagg and Rob, and indeed all the other members and listeners to the Fire and Water Podcast a merry Christmas. The Network has been brilliant this year and I look forward to the continuing and indeed new shows that will come online in 2017.

    I enjoyed the two stories showcased here. The JLA story was a nice spotlight on Plas – I enjoyed his membership of the JLA at this time and for me, he brought some great comedic relief to the widescreen adventures that Morrisson, Waid and to a lesser extent Kelly (Although Kelly did have some nice personal stories involving Plas). This was a nice one and done, no subplots to worry about and you could easily reprint this in a future Christmas with the Superheroes special.

    The Outsiders’ story was also very good. I read this in the Showcase Presents volume and it was nice to see Batman and Superman had patched things up from the explosive start to that collection, when Batman quit the JLofA.

    If you wanted another Christmas issue to read in the future, would suggest Guy Gardner: Warrior #39 – it has a Christmas party with the Superheroes and is a very fun read.

    Anyway, happy Christmas to all, and wishing you all have a great holiday season.

  15. So the two straight white middle aged guys call on another white graying CIS male on the subject of feminism? Not sure if this is helpful, but I’m no more offended by this story than any other Outsiders tale.

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