This December, the DC Universe welcomes a true legend in Batman - Santa Claus: Silent Knight, a weekly four-issue holiday special where Batman’s reach extends WELL beyond Gotham City to save Christmas. For this monumental occasion, we lined up for a seat on the lap of series author Jeff Parker (Batman ‘66, Future Quest) to give us the rundown on what we can expect from this very merry miniseries, as well as an update on Santa Claus’ place within the DCU.
So, how would you describe Batman - Santa Claus: Silent Knight for anyone unfamiliar with it (or in case we have any Grinches out there)?
It’s a Holiday Event of course, designed to put our universe of heroes in a special situation here at year’s end, but it’s really an examination of myth and how it works. What kind of person inspires traditions and legends and what were they like before all the songs and storybooks started cleaning up details and making them less scary and more kid-friendly?
I always liked stories about Santa’s early life and possible adventures, and since a big part of our story is the Krampus, there’s going to be elements of horror. Really, we’re diving into the original tradition mentioned in “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”—scary ghost stories were a big part of Christmas for a very long time. Those dark “Winter’s Tales” grew out of solstice ceremony, and still the most famous seasonal story is Dickens’ A Christmas Carol about a miser being haunted back to his better self. It’s the bleak time of year with short, cold days and people dealt with it by facing fears and looking for hope.
It would have been too easy to write another holiday romp where everyone blurts Christmas one-liners, hands out toys and you quickly move on to the next thing, but editorial encouraged us to really dig into the fascinating mythos and look at Babbo Natale/Father Christmas/Kris Kringle/Sinterklaas/Papai Noel in a way we often look at the superheroes. I think you’ll be glad we went that way.
In Silent Knight, Batman talks about having worked with Santa before. Now, I know Superman met Santa pretty early on in 1940's Superman's Christmas Adventure, but can you tell us when Batman and Santa Claus first teamed up? Or did this happen off the page?
We’re not showing any meetings in this event, it starts fresh. I could mention that all of us readers should only consider our own favorite stories when thinking of continuity anyway, but that’s a discussion for another time—this is the holidays!
But on that note, you will get to fill in a lot of the detail of how Batman and Klaus originally met yourself—our gift here is the room to do that without nailing it down too much. There are some interesting flashbacks through history, but not on that particular part. (So maybe we can revisit it later!) Batman is pretty quiet on the details—imagine—but he makes it clear that they crossed paths during his globe-traveling training years and he picked up some of his more useful skills from the mysterious man of legend. This, of course, looks amazing thanks to Michele Bandini—what a powerhouse artist!
And of course, one of the best gifts to this project was color artist Alex Sinclair. This event had a lot of moving parts and had to come together just right to ship weekly, and he pulled off some feats of color magic I've rarely seen.
As you’ve mentioned, Silent Knight is explicitly set within DC continuity. We even get some references to the recent Knight Terrors event. How does Santa Claus fit within the cosmology of the DC Universe?
Pretty well, in my opinion. Without giving too much away, we’re using the Nordic roots of his legend, and he’s clearly on a level above mortal. He is not a little elf man—one of the heroes (spoiler, it’s Robin) wonders if he even LIKES kids. He’s not particularly jolly with the way the story opens.
Of all the heroes in the DC Universe, what makes Batman the right one to team up with Santa? What skills did Batman pick up from training Santa Claus? The art of breaking and entering?
I am tapping my nose right now, St. Nick-style.
Who else can get into your house without you hearing him and hangs around on rooftops? Also, Batman is the great detective. If anyone was going to solve the mystery of Santa it was going to be him.
Which members of the Bat-Family do you think wrote letters to Santa, and what did they ask for?
That’s one of the recurring fun bits—you get to find out who wrote to him and their childhood wishes. I think you’ll find they all fit their character. You’re still the person you were as a child. Among Klaus’ greatest powers is that he never forgets a letter he’s read.
Why do you think we're all drawn to Holiday Specials? What is it we get out of seeing our favorite characters observe seasonal rituals?
It's the kind of stories that remind us that the heroes are not fundamentally different—they also might need to write some meaningful cards or prepare to spend time with family and friends.
There is a certain magic to the year coming to a close that we must sense. Judging by BBC TV, the Brits really like and expect holiday specials of their favorite shows, which I’m reminded of now because there’s a good fight scene in London. But so many cultures co-opt and bring Christmas into their own regardless of origins or traditions because the heart of it is being with people you care for.
Thought I was going to mention presents? Giving of your own time and attention is the best gift. That said, these four issues would fit nicely in most stockings. And though some of the variant covers make it look pretty violent sometimes (looking at you Tony Shasteen with your SAW/SANTA cover!), we keep it tasteful so younger readers can look too.
As the authority on DC's Santa Claus, please give us an update: does Santa still go to Apokolips every year to give Darkseid a lump of coal?
We don’t address it in the story, but I think we all know: yes.
From 1997’s DCU Holiday Bash II, art and writing by Ty Templeton
Well, getting the definitive answer to that last question was what I wanted for the holidays. But for you reading this, you won’t be able to find a better gift for the comic book fan in your life this December than Batman - Santa Claus: Silent Knight. Quick, Robin—to the North Pole!
Batman - Santa Claus: Silent Knight #1 by Jeff Parker, Michele Bandini and Alex Sinclair is now available in print and as a digital comic book.