Who is Santa Claus?
First I want to set the record straight. YES, there is a Santa Claus. He does deliver toys to all the good girls and boys every year on Christmas Eve. I can prove this because my presents are always under the tree on Christmas morning. My second piece of evidence is the cookies and milk I leave out for him are always eaten when I wake up. The last and strongest piece of evidence I submit to you is every letter I send to Santa NEVER comes back “Return to Sender” or “Undeliverable”. He must be getting those letters and having the elves make what I ask for so my Christmas is extra special. Now that we have established Santa Claus as a fact, let me delve into the article.
Santa Claus, also known as Saint Nicholas, Saint Nick, Sinterklaas, Kris Kringle, Father Christmas, or simply Santa is known by people world wide. Santa Claus is usually depicted as a portly, joyous, white-bearded man. He is seen wearing a red coat with white fur collar and cuffs, white fur-cuffed red trousers, and black leather belt and boots. Most times he is carrying a bag full of gifts for children. Santa Claus is said to make lists of children throughout the world. He categorizes them according to their behavior (“good” and “bad”, or “naughty” and “nice”) and delivers presents to all of the well-behaved children in the world on Christmas Eve. If you were on the naughty list you are more likely to receive a chunk of coal. He has elves making the toys for him in his workshop located at the North Pole. He delivers the toys in his sleigh pulled by eight reindeer (9 if you count Rudolph).
Saint Nick as a comic book character
Of course a character of this great importance has made his way onto the pages of comic books. Even with his busy schedule of naughty list checking, toy making, and general jolliness, Santa has crossed over with some of the bigger characters/teams in comics. Sometimes he is depicted as a jovial old man spreading peace and goodwill. Other times he is shown as a tyrant forcing his elves and reindeer into working extremely hard for next to nothing. There are far too many instances of Santa’s appearance in comic books to list here, but I will tell you some of the more popular times he has been in comics.
Santa in Marvel Comics
Santa has been through a lot in the Marvel Comics Universe. During WWII he was kidnapped by Adolf Hitler to destroy America’s morale. He was saved by Nick Fury, Captain America, and Bucky Barnes. Santa saved New York City from a Hitler Clone called the Hate Monger by causing one of the Hate Monger’s pilots to crash into a nuclear bomb. He has used the “naughty or nice” list to become the world’s greatest detective calling himself “Nick St. Christopher”. In this role he aided the She-Hulk in locating evidence for a murder investigation. Nick St. Christopher took a liking to She-Hulk and made a pass at her. Mrs. Claus arrived to stop him. She also punished She-Hulk by filling her office with reindeer droppings. Before departing, St. Christopher gave She-Hulk a present. He told her to use it on Christmas for something special. She opened the present later when she was stuck in She-Hulk form. The present allowed her to return to her human form to celebrate a normal Christmas evening with her father, Morris Walters.
Not all of Santa’s Marvel Comics appearances were good. One year Santa was injured while visiting Latveria. Victor von Doom (Dr. Doom) decided to replace Santa in delivering toys that year. Doctor Otto Octavius (Doc Ock) once took over Santa’s workshop, imprisoned Claus, and forced his elves to create deadly toys that would be sent out to injure children. One Christmas, Santa aided the young mutant team Generation X against the youth-abducting Nanny and Orphan Maker.
One Christmas Santa discovered his reindeer were actually shape shifting Skrulls. This left him with no one to pull his sleigh so he decided to use the Infinity Gauntlet to enable him to deliver all the presents. The Marvel super-heroes never like anyone to have all six Infinity Gems together. They were able to get the Infinity Gauntlet away from Santa. Iron Man ended up saving the day by creating Iron Reindeer to power Santa’s sleigh
The worst Marvel Comics appearance of Santa shows him demoralized by mankind’s lack of faith and belief. Santa sold his entire franchise to Hydra. One of Santa’s elves recruited some of Santa’s helpers to prevent Hydra from ruining Christmas. These helpers included Howard the Duck, Vito Claus, Bubba Clause, Santa Clara, Claus Tse-Tung, Sanity Claus, and Willy Lumpkin Claus. Howard convinced Santa to renege on his deal with Hydra. The recruited Santa’s helpers joined forces with Santa and the elves to drive off the Commando Corps of Hydra Accountants.
More recently, Santa has been classified as an Omega Level Mutant. Omega is the most powerful classification of mutants in the Marvel Universe. That alone doesn’t mean as much as it seems about half the mutants fall into that classification. What does hold a lot of weight is Cerebro, the mutant-detecting computer of the X-Men, detected “the most powerful mutant ever registered” in New York’s Rockefeller Center one holiday season. This of course was Santa Claus. He was also detected by the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants who wanted to recruit him. When the X-men and the Brotherhood both showed up a fight broke out. Santa ended the fight when he briefly transformed the Brotherhood into inanimate toys, teleported the X-Men away, erased both groups’ memories of his involvement, and then gifted the city with snowfall, the first white Christmas in years.
Marvel Comics has given Santa Claus has a number of magical abilities, including longevity, the ability to fit himself and others through any chimney, levitate up a chimney, alter the appearance of himself or other objects or beings (including physically transforming a person into an inanimate object), change the size of other objects, teleport himself and others across the world, generate snow and determine who has been naughty or nice. His normal strength is augmented on Christmas Eve to lift (press) 2 tons. Santa’s full powers are not revealed, though he prefers not to use them in combat or other struggles. While he appears to be a senior, Santa has not physically aged in centuries. Santa Claus has access to a wide range of supernatural artifacts which he uses to accomplish various feats of magic. They also gave Santa some magical equipment. The reindeer magically enable him to travel across the planet, stopping at most houses along the way, in a single night. His magical sack is actually a Tesseract serving as a portal to a sort of storage dimension. The sack holds enough presents to supply the entire world in one trip.
In the Marvel Comics Universe, Santa is served by a number of magical elves who construct the toys he gives out. The elves are descended from the Light Elves of Asgard’s Alfheim. They are resistant to aging and conventional disease. The elf named Sunquist is solar-powered and can animate toys and rearrange matter. In addition, Sunquist is a member of E.L.F., the Elf Labor Federation, which protects elves (an exploited minority). They offer their services only to the extent that they do not cause humanity to become unduly reliant on elf-kind.
Santa in DC Comics
DC Comics hasn’t used Santa as extensively as Marvel, but he still makes appearances nonetheless. In the DC Comics Universe Santa lives in The Dreaming. This is a realm inhabited by the Endless (Dream, Destiny, Death, Desire, Despair, Delirium, and Destruction). You might recognize these characters from Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman. It is reasonable to assume Santa is familiar with all these powerful beings.
Santa Claus is no slouch in the powers and abilities area either in DC Comics. He has extremely high charisma allowing him to engender trust and inspire hope in others. Two notable exceptions to this power are the Easter Bunny and Lobo ( I’ll explain more on that in a later paragraph). Santa appears to be virtually immortal. He has not aged for several centuries. DC Comics acknowledges Santa has magical abilities, but they haven’t defined the nature of his magic. His powers are strong enough that he is able to get through the formidable defenses of Apokolips every year to give Darkseid a lump of coal. These lumps of coal have an emotional effect of damaging confidence, pride, and motivation.He uses his toy bag to hold all the gifts he delivers on Christmas Eve. It is speculated this toy bag is a trans-dimensional bag of holding. He travels around the world in his gravity defying sleigh pulled by magical flying reindeer.
In the Lobo: Paramilitary Christmas Special Santa is depicted as a merciless slave owner known as Kris “Crusher” Kringle. In this story Santa Claus is a brutal dictator who ran an empire out of his stronghold at the North Pole. He maintained an army of elves. Through a practice of planned malnutrition he was able to keep them short in stature and “fierce as ferrets”. Several years ago one of Crusher Kringle’s primary rivals, the Easter Bunny, hired the intergalactic bounty hunter Lobo to assassinate him. Accepting the Bunny’s payment, Lobo was only too happy to see the job through. He traveled to the North Pole and blazed a bloody trail of destruction as he massacred dozens of elves just to reach Kringle’s throne room. Santa proved to be more than just a fat old man though. The two faced each other in mortal combat. Santa came at Lobo with two sharpened shivs. Lobo defeated Kringle by decapitating him. He then went outside and shot Rudolph. While this account seems incredible at best, Lobo has maintained that it did in fact take place.
This also calls into question if the Easter Bunny has any mutant or magical powers? I’m sure we will cover that in an article around Easter time. Most of the characters associated with holidays or fairy tales can be explained by classifying them as a mutant.
Santa in Boom Studios!
Boom Studios went a different route with Santa Claus. Klaus is set in a dark fantastic past of myth and magic. Klaus tells the story of how Santa Claus really came to be. Where did he begin? What was he like when he was young? Why does he do what he does? How does he do what he does? And what happens when he faces his greatest challenge? Klaus draws on Santa Claus’ wilder roots in Viking lore and Siberian shamanism. It takes in the creepier side of Christmas with characters like the Krampus.
Klaus is set in Grimsvig, a small town under the thumb of a petty dictator where toys have been outlawed. Santa is re-envisioned as a crusader against injustice. He is portrayed as a rough-and-tumble Conan the Barbarian type of superhero. The series draws upon early Viking and Siberian Santa Claus mythology. The comic details Santa’s origin story. It tells how he got his sleigh and other Yuletide accouterments.
Santa the Barbarian was created by Rob Liefeld with story and art by Dan Fraga. The name explains it all. Santa Claus as a barbarian, that’s it. No really, that is literally all there is to it. The comic displays Santa killing, maiming, and chopping off heads. To make it even better the elves are cheering him on with chants of “You da man!” Santa depicted as a blood-crazed barbarian killing machine is something that should be in everyone’s stocking on Christmas morning.
An Ultimate Warrior Christmas comic was written by former WWE wrestler Ultimate Warrior. This comic will leave you with a lot of questions. The main one is What is wrong with the Ultimate Warrior. The comic is mostly unsettling pictures of half (or in some instances completely) nude Santa and Ultimate Warrior. Most of the text is all on a separate non-picture page. The background of the text pages is so garish and poorly thought out that trying to read them will give you a migraine.
In the old Hellblazer comics, John Constantine once recovered the bones of St. Nicholas of Myra (believed to be Santa Claus). He crushed those bones to dust and got high on the powder. This bit of Yuletide debauchery is all part of a magic ritual to help Constantine focus his mystical powers.
Action Lab put out a mini-series of comics dealing with the Santa Claus lore. “Sleigher” is This is Spinal Tap meets a Rankin/Bass Christmas special. The ultimate holiday tale for metalheads! Sleigher is the most recent heir of the “Santa Claus” mantle, even if it’s not really his bag. He’d rather slam back bourbon than glasses of milk and blast metal instead of carols. But when a long forgotten member of Santa’s rogues gallery rears his ugly head to reap chaos and destruction, Sleigher may have found his true calling – dishing out a holiday ass whoopin!!!
And what Internet article is complete without a Third Reich reference? AAM/Markovia published the masterpiece “Santa vs. The Nazis”. In 1941 the Nazis discover Santa Claus’ factory. They enslave the elves, incapacitate Santa, and convert the factory into a factory of war. Two of Santa’s helpers escape to London to brief Winston Churchill. A commando unit is created and sent to take the factory back.
From all of us at Zia Comics, we wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and just an overall enjoyable Holiday Season!