Review: DC Special Series #21

DC Special Series #21 cover
Cover by José Luis García-López

DC Special Series #21
Published and © by DC, April 1980

Title: “The Fawn and the Star”
Synopsis: Jonah Hex shows his Christmas spirit by saving a baby deer … and blowing up two humans.

Writer: Michael Fleisher
Penciler: Dick Ayers
Inker: Romeo Tanghal

Review: Nobody did messed-up morality tales during the Bronze Age quite like Michael Fleisher – and this Jonah Hex Christmas outing is no exception. A sympathetic back story does little to assuage Hex’s moral gray. The art, by journeymen Dick Ayers and Romeo Tanghal, is serviceable.


Title: “Wanted: Santa Claus – Dead or Alive!”
Synopsis: Batman solves a Christmas crime with the help of an ex-con-turned-Santa – and an extra-bright star in the sky.

Writer: Denny O’Neil
Penciler: Frank Miller
Inker: Steve Mitchell

Review: Frank Miller’s first-ever outing on Batman is a good one; the rendering is rough, but his storytelling is already dynamic.


Title: Untitled
Synopsis: The hosts of DC’s various horror titles try to one up each other with a variety of Christmas-star stories.

Writer: Bob Rozakis
Penciler: Romeo Tanghal
Inker: Dan Adkins

Review: This hodgepodge of mini-stories is neither good nor a total misfire, but it’s the weakest segment of this comic.


Title: “The Longest Night!”
Synopsis: Sgt. Rock clears the town of Santa Maria of Nazis before they can slaughter a group of worshipers on Christmas. 

Writer: Robert Kanigher
Penciler: Dick Ayers
Inker: Romeo Tanghal

Review: Veteran Rock writer Robert Kanigher pens this issue’s most poignant tale (but it would’ve been stronger with Joe Kubert art!)


Title: “Star Light, Star Bright … Farthest Star I See Tonight!”
Synopsis: Superboy and the Legion set out to find the Christmas star – and instead find alien races in need of aid.

Writer: Paul Levitz
Penciler: José Luis García-López
Inker: Dick Giordano

Review: José Luis García-López is a master of dynamic anatomy. And, of course, Paul Levitz provides excellent Legion characterization.

Grade (for the entire issue): B+

Second opinion: “The special wraps up on a high note with the Legion of Super-Heroes. … 4 out of 4 stars.” – Brett Frankenhoff, Comics Buyer’s Guide #1673, January 2011 … “Hardly essential … .” – The Slings & Arrows Comic Guide (second edition), 2003

Cool factor: This collection is better than the sum of its parts – and that’s even with one of those parts being Frank Miller’s first work on Batman!

Notable: This issues includes  an uncredited, one-page splash introducing this issue’s “follow that star” theme.

Character quotable: “Come along now with the world’s greatest heroes, to follow that star – and your world may never again be the same!” – An unnamed narrator (perhaps overselling this one!)

Editor’s note: This review was originally published by Comics Bronze Age on Dec. 26, 2012.

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