WARNING! SPOILERS ARE COMING TO TOWN! YOU BETTER WATCH OUT!


Title: "Merry Christmas, Justice League--NOW DIE!"
Release Date: January 2002
Writer: Mark Waid
Penciller: Cliff Rathburn
Inker: Paul Neary
JLA Members: Plastic Man, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, the Flash, the Martian Manhunter, Aquaman... and Santa Claus.
Guest Stars: Woozy Winks, Wanda Winks, and Weezer Winks.
Bad Guys: Neron.
Cameos: Mrs. Claus and the Time Commander.

So what happens?
Hrm. Mark Waid's back for one more issue. I guess I'll let it slide this time, since it's a pretty decent story.

Plastic Man is visiting his old pal Woozy Winks, who is helping his sister Wanda decorate for Christmas and watch over her son Weezer. Weezer is a handful, so Plas volunteers to tuck the kid in so his mom and uncle can put his new bicycle together. Plas tells Weezer that he better get into bed, because Santa Claus doesn't come to visit until the kids are asleep, but Weezer scoffs, claiming that Santa is made up and dumb and boring and only for little kids. Plas reveals the shocking fact that Santa Claus is a JLA member! Weezer is disbelieving, but Plastic Man obligingly relates the story...

Spurred by good old-fashioned Christmas spirit, the Justice League elects Santa as their newest member, but are horrified when a demonic little gingerbread man appears before them and announces tons of bad news--Santa's workshop has laid off scads of elves, naughty children are outnumbering nice children, and Neron, the ruler of Hell, has been giving kids cool toys in exchange for having them do evil things! So Santa headed for the Gate to Hell (conveniently located in New Jersey) to lay some whup-ass on Neron and his evil imps. But Neron has been trading toys for children's youthful energy and using that enthusiasm to power Hell, making him strong enough to easily imprison Kris Kringle.

Is the JLA going to stand for that? NO FREAKIN' WAY! They charge down to Hell and start kicking demonic tail until they discover Santa, imprisoned in the bubble-pack of a giant action figure package! However, while they're working to free St. Nick, Neron turns them all into...COAL! And then he stuffs them into his Christmas stocking! ('cause, see, Neron's been a bad boy, and bad boys get coal in their stocking. Hell, don't blame me, Plastic Man's telling this story.)

Luckily, the Justice League had weakened Santa's prison enough that he was able to escape using his Heat Vision! (I'd like to know what Plastic Man smokes) Santa battles the minions of Hell, but he's just one old fat man with Heat Vision--he gets overwhelmed by superior numbers. But Santa has a plan--he gives Neron a wrapped present--Neron's obsessive about bargaining for what he wants, so getting a gift, given freely and with no strings attached, tends to knock him flat on his ass. But the kicker is what Santa has given the Lord of Hell: socks and underwear! Utterly defeated, Neron explodes. Santa magics the Justice League back to normal, everyone celebrates Santa's membership in the League aboard the Watchtower, and all is right with the world, amen!

Weezer is not, however, particularly amused by the story. He still doesn't believe in Santa Claus, and he certainly doesn't believe that Plas is any good at telling stories. But then Plas and Weezer both see Santa Claus fly past the window and use his Heat Vision to burn "Merry Christmas" into a snowbank. Weezer immediately believes in the truth of Plastic Man's story and in the existence of Santa; Plastic Man, knowing very well how full of bulldada he is, feels very puzzled.

The truth is revealed outside: Plastic Man accidentally left his JLA signal device on, and Green Lantern and the Martian Manhunter heard all of Plas' story while they were capturing a supervillain. The Manhunter shapeshifted himself into Santa as a prank...

And as J'onn and GL fly off, a bearded figure in red, with a small herd of reindeer at his side, watches bemusedly. "Heat Vision?" he scoffs. "The imagination of some people..."

Cool Moments!
The whole thing was plenty funny and pleasantly Christmasy, too--holiday comics rarely work properly, but this one was dandy. Oh, and the socks and underwear gag was gold.

Cool Quotes!
Weezer: "Was Batman there?"
Plastic Man: "Yes."
Weezer: "I like Batman."
Plastic Man: "Yes. We all love Batman."

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