The History of Santa Claus in the DC Universe

The powers of Santa Claus rival those of many characters in DC Comics’ reality. Several stories have seen that right jolly old elf alongside the World’s Finest heroes. However, much like the rest of DC’s history, there is much that is contradictory or, at least, wildly apocryphal.

Santa and Superman

Superman's Christmas Adventure #1 Cover Cropped
(Image Source: DC)

Superman first joined forces with Kris Kringle fairly early in his career. This story was detailed in 1940’s Superman’s Christmas Adventure #1 by Jerry Siegel and Jack Burnley. The comic found the Man of Steel carrying Santa Claus around the world on Christmas Eve. This proved necessary after two fun-hating villains, Doctor Grouch and Mister Meaney, used sleeping gas on Santa’s reindeer.

Decades later, Superman dreamed of another team-up with Santa Claus in 1984’s DC Comics Presents #67. Written by Len Wein with art by Curt Swan, this story found Santa giving a weakened Superman help in a battle with Toyman. Superman, in turn, helped Santa with his deliveries that Christmas. To Superman’s surprise, he later found a Kryptonian toy nobody on Earth could have known about hidden among Clark Kent’s clothes. This suggested his dream adventure was quite real.

Sandman and Santa

Sandman Kirby DC Comics Garrett Sanford
(Image Source: DC)

Dreams also figured prominently in 1978’s Cancelled Comic Cavalcade #2. The story by Michael Fleisher and Jack Kirby found Santa Claus taken hostage by the Seal Men, who were upset by the gifts they were given. Thankfully, he was soon rescued by the Garrett Sanford Sandman, who protected the dreams of children. Like Superman, Sandman also helped Santa to complete his rounds that year. This Sandman story is notable as a rare example of Santa needing rescue.

Santa Versus Darkseid

Santa Claus faces Darkseid
(Image Source: DC)

In most of his DC Universe appearances, Santa Claus takes on a more active and heroic role. This was the case in “Present Tense,” a story by Ty Templeton featured in 1998’s DC Holiday Bash #2. This story revealed that Santa makes a yearly trip to Apokolips to personally deliver a piece of coal to Darkseid for being naughty.

Santa and the Justice League

Santa Claus in the Justice League
(Image Source: DC)

2002’s JLA #60 by Mark Waid and Cliff Rathburn painted a similarly heroic portrait of Santa. Plastic Man spun a tall tale to convince young Weezer Winks that Santa Claus was a Justice League member. This honor was allegedly bestowed on Kris Kringle after he single-handedly saved the team from the demon Neron. While the story was made-up, the real Santa Claus put in an appearance at the story’s end.

Santa Versus Lobo

Santa Fights Lobo
(Image Source: DC)

Another famous and decidedly non-canon tale of Santa Claus was featured in 1992’s Lobo’s Paramilitary Christmas Special. Presented by Keith Giffen, Alan Grant, and Simon Bisley, the special saw Lobo hired by a vengeful Easter Bunny. His target? Santa himself.

This version of Santa, known as Kris “Crusher” Kringle, was a cruel despot. He maintained an army of elves, half-crazed by starvation, and ran his empire from a fortress at the North Pole. Lobo beheaded Kringle and maintained for years afterward that he had indeed killed Santa Claus.

John Constantine and Santa Claus

Santa and John Constantine
(Image Source: DC)

The dark universe of Vertigo stands apart from the main DCU. Yet the holiday spirit is just as strong there, and a potent source of magic for one bold enough to tap it. This led to an unexpected Santa Claus cameo in Hellblazer #247.

The story by Andy Diggle and Leonardo Manco pits John Constantine against a much more powerful mage-killer. To even the odds, John steals the bones of Bishop Agios Nikolaus, better known as Saint Nicholas. Ground into powder and snorted, the sacred bones give John the power he needs to win the day.

Santa is Batman’s Teacher and a Vampire Hunter

Santa in Batman Santa Claus Silent Knight
(Image Source: DC)

2023’s Batman/Santa Claus: Silent Knight offers yet another origin story for Santa Claus in the DC Universe. This version of Santa joins Batman and his allies in a Yuletide battle against the Draug, vampires from Norse myth. He also reportedly taught Batman “a few things I still use” when the two met while a young Bruce Wayne was traveling the world training.

Zatanna reveals that there are many stories about the man who became Santa, but one tells of a mighty woodsman and crafter. This woodsman rode with the Wild Hunt alongside the Norse gods, seeking out dangerous monsters. This woodsman became trapped in our world after taming a beast-man called Krampus.

Krampus enjoyed scaring children, but was largely harmless. The woodsman began making toys to make up for his companion’s mischief. This apparently inspired the stories of Santa Claus and Krampus throughout Europe.

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