Let's face it. It's been a tough year. The world keeps becoming a darker and more terrifying place. As hope keeps fading the temptation to just give up and watch the world burn seems to be a more sensible option with each passing day. No matter how many small victories you have, they keep getting smothered by a growing sense of doom. What is there to be happy about during the holidays? What do we have that is really worth celebrating?
If you feel this way, guess what? So does Clark Kent. Every year the last son of Krypton winds up in a bar on Christmas Eve to drown out his fears of inadequacy with club soda. It just so happens that John Constantine is also at this particular bar spreading his own doom and gloom version of Christmas cheer. Bibbo the Tavern Keep bounces the sorcerer and his bad attitude, but not before his words seem to hit home with Clark.
What follows is a series of tales told by the wise pub owner; ones that all highlight what Christmas means along with one about Saturnalia involving Wonder Woman and Batman and another about an American Jewish soldier living eight days longer than he should have (I'm not joking, that's the Hanukkah story). One story even involves a Deathstroke family Christmas where he holds up a Santa Clause to get a toy back. Don't believe me? Here's Santa getting tagged.
The effect on all these stories bolsters the spirit of Clark Kent, who thanks Bibbo for his wise words. But, wouldn't you know it? That smarmy, trench coat wearing jackass John Constantine is having a smoke outside waiting for Clark. John let's Superman know that the world is terrible and all we are doing is passing the time till death. Clark then invites Constantine over for dinner.
Now, I'm not going to go through how well all the writers and artist did in each of the eleven separate stories. First, there is a broad range in story telling and styles. Second, it would take forever, and I don't feel like typing for five hours. Some are better than others. I liked Mairghread Scott's Green Arrow and Black Canary story. Tom King's aforementioned Hanukkah story about Sargent Rock and Easy Company was powerful, but didn't really seemed like it belonged. Christopher Priest's story about a Wilson Family Christmas was funny, but failed to fit the overall narrative that Jeff Lemeire was trying to convey about keeping hope alive.
Taken separately, each story is pretty good on it's own as a brief holiday short. Compiled together to further a story, not so much. I'm not saying that the book isn't worth buying, though at $9.99 you might want to rethink your other purchases. While I'm not convinced that everything is going to be okay (we don't have real superheroes after-all), I was reminded that caring for others is important... even if they are sparkly fingered layabouts like Constantine.