With the world mourning, the Justice League takes care of Superman’s Christmas tradition in Superman #76.

Superman #76

Triangle Number 1993 – 6

Writer and Penciler: Dan Jurgens
Inker: Brett Breeding
Colorist: Glenn Whitmore
Letterer: John Costanza

Again, here’s a story that is almost entirely cut from the 2007 omnibus. Three single pages make it into that version of the text. The three pages that make it in are Lois meeting the Kents at Clark’s apartment, and then Lana Lang joining them. Lois’s internal narration is a deep look into her psyche.

“The doorman. Try not to cry. Daddy always said, ‘Don’t cry.’ Clark’s apartment. Fumbling for the keys he gave me… trying so hard not to cry…”

Seeing Lois finally have a chance to grieve with somebody else is cathartic. While Ma and Pa had each other, Lois had nobody.

The problem with cutting everything else out of this issue is that it removes a great deal of context from the conversation that Lana, the Kents, and Lois have about the problem of what to do about Clark’s secret. The scene works alright without the context of what else is going on in the issue, but if you are able to read the whole issue it gives so much more depth to the conversation.

The meat of the issue that was cut out happens in two separate stories that eventually intersect. The first is a direct sequel to the previous year’s Superman #64, in which Superman did his yearly Christmas mail run. This year there is no Superman to answer the letters, so various Justice Leaguers have gathered to try to do what they can to help the people who need it. It’s Guy Gardner who is instantly cynical about the idea, and naturally is the first to read a letter that isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme. Guy goes to reunite a sick woman with her estranged son, while the rest of the League finds a letter written by a woman who lost her home during Doomsday’s rampage.

This is, of course, Mitch’s mom, Claire, from Superman #74, and the letter is not to ask for help but to thank Superman for saving her and her family in the process. This is the letter that Green Lantern, Flash, and Wonder Woman take, deciding to help poor Claire, who asked for nothing but wanted to show gratitude for what Superman had done. While Green Lantern and Flash rebuild her house in a matter of hours, Wonder Woman is reaching out to her estranged husband, to tell him what had happened. In the end, the threat of losing his family forever brings him back, making him realize what he had almost been without.

Then there’s the matter of Claire’s missing son. Mitch is in Metropolis, seeking redemption for Superman’s death. He blames himself for getting Superman killed, thinking that had Superman not returned to save Mitch’s family things may have turned out differently. So Mitch is in Metropolis seeking Superman’s family to gain penance. He finds himself at a small press conference of a woman who announces herself to be “Mrs. Superman,” which is where the context for the later scene in Clark’s apartment comes from. Lois and Jimmy are in attendance at said press conference, and Lois just absolutely and understandably loses her cool. Here is a woman attempting to capitalize on tragedy, claiming to have had what Lois almost did, and it’s sickening and heartbreaking.

Mitch overhears the outburst and is looking dejected when Jimmy finds him. He tells Jimmy that he just wants to find someone who knew Superman. Jimmy takes him to Bibbo’s where they can sit and talk, giving Mitch exactly what he came to town for. He gets to have a meal with two people who knew Superman as well as almost anyone else, who both tell him that he has nothing to feel guilty about — Superman saved them because that’s what Superman does.

Miss any previous entries in The Never-Ending Battle? The early entries can be found at Comfort Food Comics, while more recent ones can be found here at The Beat.