Teen Titans #13 cover

Teen Titans #13, Jan-Feb 1968

‘Tis the season, and so we’re taking a look at the grooviest super-hero Christmas tale ever.

“The TT’s Swingin’ Christmas Carol!”

Our teen heroes are loafing around in their hillside headquarters. While Aqualad, Kid Flash and Wonder Girl enjoy reading DC comics, Robin has his nose buried in A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. This is apparently most uncool.

Teen Titans #13 groovy

Meanwhile, not far away, at the Junkorama scrap yard, Ebenezer Scrounge, the proprietor, is forcing his assistant Bob Rachet to work in the freezing cold. Despite this Rachet continues to work as his crippled son, Tiny Tom, needs an automatic wheelchair for Christmas. After hours, Tom witnesses a couple of crooks pay off Scrounge and reconstitute piles of junk into brand new goods using a weird ray gun. The resultant high-tech smuggling operation allows Mr Big to bypass tax and import duty.

Tom tells his dad what he’s seen, and Rachet confronts Scrounge.

Ebeneezer Scrounge

Scrounge threatens to fire Rachet if he doesn’t keep his mouth shut.

Tiny Tom contacts the Teen Titans for help, and together they investigate the crooks’ activities at the Junkorama. However, they don’t actually witness the old-for-new switch, so have no proof. They do, however, see Jacob Farley, Scrounge’s old business partner, attack Scrounge for framing him. Farley’s name makes the Titans realise that this is all reminiscent of Dickens.

When Scrounge is alone he receives a visit from ghostly figures that show him the error of his ways. Little does he know that the ghosts are in fact the Teen Titans in disguise! Mr Big himself arrives, and Wonder Girl is shot.

Teen Titans #13 Wonder Girl as Christmas Present

With Wonder Girl thrown into a car-compactor, the boys begin to fight back.

Teen Titans #13 the Titans fight

However, they quickly find themselves helplessly drawn towards a junk heap—a bizarre anti-burglar device operated by Mr Big. Wonder Girl escapes the compactor, but is drawn to the heap like the others.

Teen Titans #13

Witnessing Tiny Tom’s wheelchair being destroyed, a repentant Scrounge throws the switch to release the Titans, and they make short work of the goons. Scrounge promises to remain a changed man: he’ll get Farley’s name cleared, give Rachet a raise, and buy Tiny Tom an new electric wheelchair.

Teen Titans #13 Scrounge repents

0-0-0-0-0-0-0

Written by Bob Haney, and quite obviously riffing on Charles Dickens’s timeless tale, this is a wonderful little festive story. Nick Cardy clearly had a ball drawing it, and it contains some of his best ever artwork. As a comic strip, the whole exercise is somewhat reminiscent of Will Eisner’s later Spirit work: a short morality play told in cartoon form using innovative layouts and story-telling. This isn’t too surprising, as Cardy worked with Eisner on The Spirit Section in the 1940s, writing and drawing the Lady Luck back up strip.

“… Swingin’ Christmas Carol!” has been reprinted a number of times, including Limited Collectors’ Edition #C-34 (though this is slightly edited, missing the page where Robin is embarrassed to be reading Dickens) and The Best of DC #22 digest. The latter is interesting in that it too omits the Titans reading page, but it adds extra art to some panels to cover the half pages that were prevalent in 1960s comics.

However you read it, find a copy and have a great Christmas!

Images ©2011 DC Comics