Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Season's greetings

Hanukkah began this year on December 25. For those unfamiliar with the holiday, it commemorates the rededication of the Temple of Jerusalem after the victory of the Maccabees over the Sellucid Empire (a successor remnant of Alexander the Great's empire). During the dedication ceremonies, a one-day supply of oil kept the temple lamps burning for eight days; this was the Miracle of the Lights.

In keeping with all the Christmas-special comics that have been highlighted here and there recently, I would like to present what might be the only Hanukkah-special comic:

Yeah, I know it doesn't scream "Let's light the menorah" at you, and it can't hold a candle to the Ambush Bug Stocking Stuffer, but at least the caption mentions a miracle.

This cover for JLA (dated March 1981) actually represents the backup story in the book. The 14-pager opens with Ray Palmer visiting a Jewish friend and clumsily explaining that he doesn't know much about Judaism; this is all a set-up so that Ray's friend can tell him (and the reader) all about the Maccabees and the miracle, foreshadowing the upcoming comic book irony.

Something happens that requires the Atom to go to the Justice League satellite, where there is an emergency that breaches the station and compromises life support (important, since it's non-powered Leaguers who are all there); there's one of those scenes where Elongated Man has to "stretch further than he ever has before" to rescue (I believe) the unconscious Hawkman floating out in space. So the Leaguers are all doing stuff to fix the station and Atom is trying to keep some jerry-rigged life support going. The heroes save the day and thank Atom as he comes back out of the whatsis he was shrunk into; he tells them that whatever he was trying didn't work, and that the life support systems should have run out minutes earlier.

See?! It was just like the oil lasting longer that it possibly could have! It was a Hanukkah miracle, right there in the JLA headquarters! And if you didn't get it, that's all right, because Atom explains it to everyone.

It was no worse than lots of star-from-out-of-nowhere or last-minute-melting-of-a-cold-heart Christmas stories; it was certainly no better, either. I guess I treasure it for its uniqueness. Of course, if there have been other Hanukkah stories since then that I have missed, I'd love to hear of it!

Happy holidays, everyone.

(Full disclosure: This comic isn't in the Last Shortbox either. I had two copies; I sold one with rest of the collection and gave one to a friend. My comments were based mostly on memory, although I did look up the date of the issue. I'll start the scanning and reviewing soon. Promise.)


Ragnell said...

Actually, that doesn't sound like that bad a story.

Happy Channukah :)

Scipio said...

I want to live in a world FILLED with comic book irony.

Of course, then I'd probably die from electrocution while updating my blog or something.

But I think it might be worth it.