Monday, December 13, 2004


While not everybody knows that Clark Kent is Superman, I'm pretty sure that even the uninterested know the details of Santa Claus's yearly ritual. Santa is practically a superhero himself. He has a specialized headquarters, minions, advanced equipment, a dedicated mission, and even a love interest. Depending on how you look at it, he even has a "Kriss Kringle" alter-ego. However, like the Phantom Stranger, nobody can quite agree on his origins. Therefore, I offer some possibilities.

1. The Star Trek Origin: Santa is the Earth representative of a galactic organization dedicated to improving the quality of life on hundreds of planets by rewarding its good children and giving the metaphorical lump of coal to the bad ones. The North Pole toy factory is only a facade -- the real work is done in a cloaked starship in geosynchronous orbit. His deliveries are accomplished through advanced alien technology, although he makes "personal appearances" where appropriate. The organization for which Santa works has nothing to do with Christianity; it merely uses the holiday as local color. With a few tweaks, this could also be the Green Lantern Origin.

2. The Superman Origin: The infant Kring-El was sent to Earth from a doomed planet and raised by a kindly couple. He enjoyed a happy childhood, but his parents died when he was a young man. While Earth's yellow sun made him fast, strong, almost omniscient, practically immortal, and virtually indestructible, it also made him overweight and unable to survive outside cold weather for more than 24 hours at a time. Thus, Kring-El set up shop at the North Pole, enlisted the aid of a legendary race of crafts-minded little people, and devised a plan to do something good annually for the world's deserving children. The flying reindeer come from a formula devised by Kring-El's super-intellect.

3. The Wonder Woman Origin: Kriss Kringle's mother was a lonely 17th-century woman whose husband abandoned her following a miscarriage. Distraught, she fled into the vast northern woods, where she was taken in by a race of elves. Upon hearing her story, one elf made her a baby doll, hoping to ease her pain at least a little. Seeing the doll, the elves' shaman had an idea, and took the mother and her doll to the wood-spirit the elves worshiped. The spirit was also greatly moved, and endowed the doll with life. The young mother raised Kriss with the help of the elves, and taught him about the rewards a life of giving could bring. However, soon the encroachment of humans forced the elves out of their traditional home. The wood-spirit helped them by showing them magically how to make reindeer fly. This facilitated their move to the North Pole, where they remain to this day.

4. The Dr. Doom Origin: Driven to avenge the unjust death of his mother, young Kriss Kringle devoted his life to the twin pursuits of science and sorcery. Along the way he conquered the indigenous elf population at the North Pole. For a while he ruled with an iron fist, but had a Grinch-like change of heart and turned his energies to more generous ends.

5. The Completely Unoriginal Origin: The entity we know today as Santa Claus is, in fact, an angel who rebelled against Heaven, but could not serve in Hell. (This is, of course, pretty much the same origin with which Alan Moore endowed the Phantom Stranger in Secret Origins #10.) He feels humanity's frustration with a God whose ways are too mysterious, and so has chosen to use the biggest Christian holiday as a vehicle for a more immediate punishment and reward system.

6. The Grant Morrison Origin: I have no idea what this would be, but he's about the only living creative type I'd trust to make some sense out of the Mexican Santa Claus movie, (memorialized by "Mystery Science Theater 3000," of course) where S.C. and Merlin fight the Devil.

7. The Batman Origin: Following the deaths of his parents, young Nicholas dedicated his life and his vast inheritance to helping the poor. Working through the local church, he became a Bishop; and after his death was made a Saint. His story inspired a legend of gift-giving which endures across the centuries. Seriously.

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