It’s a very Teen Titans Christmas! – Teen Titans #13
One is reminded of an old David Spade line, from his tenure doing the snarky “The Hollywood Minute” on SNL. He noted once that Kenny G, renowned impresario of bland, generic, toothless saxophone recordings, had come out with a CD of Yuletide tunes, just in time for the holidays. Spade’s quip: Happy birthday, Jesus — here’s some crap!
That pretty much sums up the 1960s Teen Titans — they of the incessant hip-talk and unctuous grooviness — and their Christmas comic. “A Christmas Happening!,” as it were. Baby Jesus, you know the drill. The story within, written by Bob Haney with art from the ever-underrated Nick Cardy, puts its leitmotif right at the fore: it’s a retelling of Charles Dickens’ classic, A Christmas Carol. But with Ebenezer Scrounge. And a beleaguered bookkeeper named Ratchet. Who has a son named Tom who needs a new automatic wheelchair. Oh, and the Teen Titans. We open on our young heroes reading, of all things, comic books (with actual covers from contemporaneous tomes, in a nice bit of detail), and indulging in their usual teeth-grindingly awful banter:
Meanwhile Scrounge, a shady, miserly purveyor of junk, is cracking the whip on poor old Ratchet:
Hey, he says “Humbug!” Just like Ebenezer Scrooge!
The plot hinges on a scheme Scrounge is running: importing junk for mobsters, who use a magic ray to convert the ruined cars back into brand spanking new autos. It’s like a scam out of The Sopranos, but dopey and without bullets to the head. Both Ratchet and Tom stumble on these shenanigans, and Tom calls in the Titans to help out. This eventually leads to them recreating the guilt-inducing ghosts from Carol to show Scrounge the error of his ways, including Wonder Girl as a very leggy Ghost of Christmas Future:
Things fall apart, the mobsters attack, all looks lost for the Titans, but good triumphs over evil in the end. Scrounge’s heart grows three sizes (wait, wrong Christmas story), and, overcome with the X-Mas spirit, buys Tom a shiny new wheelchair. A Teen Titans miracle! How does it all end? With a Teen Titans Christmas card, which isn’t a Christmas card at all, though that’s what it’s called. But it’s bookended by Wonder Girl’s rack and Aqualad dropping “Robin-O” and “marv” in one sentence — the good and the bad of ye olde Titans:
And there you have it, the time the Teen Titans rang in the yuletide season by appropriating Chuck D.’s groovy seasonal classic. It’s pretty much what you’d expect. Which is saying that it makes you want to guzzle gallons of eggnog to blot it forever from your brain.
Anyway: Happy birthday, Jesus — here’s some crap!
“A Christmas Happening!” has been reprinted a number of times, including the 2000 release A DC Universe Christmas and the first volume of Showcase Presents: Teen Titans. Feel free to track it down for the baby savior in your life, the one you can’t be bothered to get a real gift for.