Home > Christmas, DC Comics > Action Comics (1938 Series) #517

Action Comics (1938 Series) #517

December 17, 2011

Title: The War For Peace

Writer: Gerry Conway
Curt Swan
Dave Hunt
Gene D’Angelo
Ben Oda             
Cover Artist:
Ross Andru
Julius Schwartz
DC Comics

The cover of Action Comics #517 bills the issue as “the strangest Christmas story ever told.” I don’t know if I’d go quite that far, but it is rather out of the ordinary. Superman is called away from the Daily Planet Christmas Party when he spots an out-of-control alien spacecraft about to plunge into Earth’s atmosphere. Saving the alien, it begs Superman’s help in recovering a strange artifact called the Grayl, an ancient religious totem stolen from his people by another alien race who seeks it for its monetary value. Superman gets caught up in a strange sort of holy war in space.

This is not, to be frank, a subtle comic book. Gerry Conway really lays on the story thick, without shying away from the real-world parallels to the middle east. In the end, it may go a little too far, with any specific Christmas message being lost in an overall plea for Peace on Ea… well, peace in the universe. It’s an okay story, but it strays from its claim of being a Christmas story early and never really comes back.

There’s also a back-up story here that has nothing to do with Christmas, but what the heck, let’s look at it anyway.

Title: Brother Rat

Writer: J.M. DeMatteis
Don Heck
Jerry Serpe
Ben Oda
Len Wein

This second tale stars Aquaman, in a desperate battle against his old foe Black Manta… or so he thought. Turns out this Manta was merely a robot. Aquaman and Mera set off for New York to investigate the corporation that was supposedly behind Manta’s efforts, only to find an even more unexpected foe – Aquaman’s half-brother, the Ocean Master.

The story is perfectly serviceable, but it doesn’t really grab me. Aquaman is a character who gets too much crap from the mainstream, but he’s also one that doesn’t work except with certain writers. As well as he’s being handled right now, this book reminds us that it wasn’t always that way.

All in all, this comic really could have been better.

Rating: 6/10

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