One of many things that sets The Flash apart is their annual holiday episode. Every December they have a seasonal episode (and it seems like Supergirl may be following in The Flash’s footsteps with their recent Thanksgiving episode). The holiday episode always celebrates the familial bonds that run so strong throughout the show and tonight’s midseason finale, “The Present,” was no exception. Not only did we get to see the Wests come together and Cisco finally dealing with his feelings about Dante, but Jay Garrick (Henry Allen’s doppelganger), played a major part of the episode as well, and we got to see the return of the amazing Mark Hamill!
Holiday traditions are not the sole domain of The Flash television show, however, and in the spirit of the season, we are going to take a look at some of DC Comics’ best Yuletide stories. The Justice League cartoon, which we all know is amazing, has a Christmas episode (season 2, episode 23), called “Comfort and Joy” that examines what each member of the team gets up to—including the Flash! He spends Christmas Eve delivering presents to sick children across Central City until he is disrupted by the Ultra-Humanite on a search for a very specific toy.
Sidebar: The Flash storyline in “Comfort and Joy” would make a great live action adaptation for our Barry Allen, don’t you think?
Other storylines in “Comfort and Joy” include Hawkgirl and Green Lantern (John Stewart) visiting an alien bar, Superman inviting J’onn J’onzz back to the Kent Farm to learn about human traditions, and Batman keeping duty in the Watchtower.
In the world of comics, there’s "Present Tense" in the DCU HOLIDAY BASH (December 1997). Flash writer extraordinaire Mark Waid has a short story—it’s only two pages, but they are two awesome pages!—about Wally West (who was the Flash at the time), buying an ugly Christmas sweater for Linda Park, who was his girlfriend at the time.
Waid returns with another Flash holiday tale in JLA #60 (November 2001), titled “Merry Christmas, Justice League—Now Die!” wherein something happens to Santa Claus, so the Justice Leaguers must step up and fill his role delivering gifts to children around the world. Wally West (who was still the Flash) must use his super speed to run across the globe as directed by Batman, who has used his detective skills to determine who has been naughty and who has been nice.
Probably the most famous of all DC holiday stories are the Christmas with the Super-Heroes anthologies. CHRISTMAS WITH THE SUPER-HEROES #2 is most famous for the Deadman and Supergirl story that is held to be one of the best Supergirl stories of all time (for my fans of the Supergirl television show, I would recommend giving it a read), however the Flash does make an appearance here as well. Wally and Hal Jordan charitably help out a Homeless Man in a reminder that sometimes others have it worse off than we do.
If you are looking for a holiday story about a speedster in the far flung future, Mark Waid has another great one (co-written with the fantastic Devin Grayson and drawn by Craig Rousseau), for you to get your hands on in the DCU HOLIDAY BASH III (December 1999). Bart Allen is Barry’s grandson who travels back in time and has had a collection of mentors in his time—including Jay Garrick. In this story, one of Bart’s mentors, Max Mercury, is trying to convince Impulse that there is no Santa Claus…but, Bart knows the real truth.
With all the time travel that has been going on in The Flash and across the #DCTV shows I’m always hopeful that Bart Allen will make an onscreen appearance and this type of lighthearted story could make a great holiday episode in and of itself.
Christmas isn’t the only holiday that DC Comics characters participate in, though. Ray Palmer—who Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow fans know as the Atom—is of Jewish descent and in JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #188 (March 1981) in a backup story titled “The Miracle at 22,300 Miles!” Ray celebrates Hanukkah with his non-super friends. Meanwhile an energy miracle (trying to stay spoiler-free!), occurs on the JLA satellite with parallels drawn between that and the miracle of light that Hanukkah celebrates.
Fun fact: Kate Kane (Batwoman) and Gim Allon (Cosmic Boy from the Legion of Super-Heroes), are also Jewish, if you want to check them out.
Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that DC’s holiday comic book cheer continues today. Their latest holiday offering, DC REBIRTH HOLIDAY SPECIAL #1 is a 96-page special in stores next week, and features holiday stories starring DC’s biggest characters (including The Flash) written and drawn by the likes of Paul Dini, Tim Seeley, Dan Jurgens, James Tynion, Gene Luen Yang, Robbi Rodriguez, Ian Churchill and more.
With The Flash going on hiatus until the new year, I hope that you can find some inspired Yuletide reading here and that we can all bring the sensation of family that we saw on screen into our own lives. Have a great season—whatever planet you are from and whatever you choose to celebrate!
Ashley V. Robinson covers The Flash as a part of the #DCTV Couch Club. You can find her on Twitter at @AshleyVRobinson and on the Jawiin YouTube channel. The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. (7 p.m. CST) on The CW.