Saturday, December 1, 2012

Holiday Comics -- Have a Favorite?

Doug:  Earlier this fall, Karen and I were debating what to do with our schedule as we'd made up our mind that we were going to take a vacation in January.  For those of you who look up and down the sidebar, you know that we have sort of a "coming soon" feature.  A long time ago we announced about six months worth of stories or topics that we were going to review.  As it became obvious that December was going to be an issue in filling the Mondays as we do with our partner reviews (we didn't want to be stuck in the middle of a storyline as January dawned), I asked if we could do a couple of Christmas comics.  Of course, nothing really leapt immediately to mind; about the only one I could come up with off the top of my head was the Spidey/Stegron/Lizard clash that ran in Amazing Spider-Man #'s 165-166.  Later, I recalled that an early Marvel Team-Up was set over Christmas.

Doug:  Since we nixed the idea, at least for this year, I thought we could at least throw this out there to our readers and perhaps get some suggestions that we might use next year or even later.  You know we do up Halloween pretty big around here each year, but I don't know that we've ever really hit on another holiday with a comic review.  So what do you know of that is maybe a favorite Bronze-era story of yours?  Of course there are no guarantees that either Karen or I would have a particular book that gets nominated, but hey -- shopping is fun, and who knows?  You might inspire us!


humanbelly said...

Way back in All-new, All-different Uncanny X-Men #98, there's really a very nice Holiday vibe going on that the Sentinels TOTALLY go all Scrooge/Grinch/Mr.Potter upon. Geeze, did the Trasks never watch a SINGLE Frank Capra film-??


Rip Jagger said...

Two came to mind.

The Justice League of America story from issue 110 titled "The Murder of Santa Claus, 1973" is a hoot by the ideal JLofA team of Wein, Dillin, and Giordano.

Also a fave is the Hero for Hire story from 7 titled "Jingle Bombs" by Englehart and Graham.

That one makes for a "Sweet Christmas" indeed!

Rip Off

Dougie said...

My pick is "2,000 Light-Years to Christmas", the March 78 JLA story where Red Tornado first met the war orphan Traya.

It has a team-up for Batman and Elongated Man plus Hawkgirl playing cards. Disappointing z-list villain ( Major Macabre, IIRC?) but very seasonal.

BTW, " Merry Xmas X-Men,the Sentinels Have Returned" inspired me to visit the skating rink when I visited NYC back in 1995.

humanbelly said...

THAT was the title, thanks Dougie--

IIRC, the only problem for that issue was that it somehow didn't hit the spinner racks in my little town until late January. . . which sort of took the oomph out of the holiday motif. Since it was bi-monthly at that point (which it stayed for a loooong time, believe it or not!), you'd think getting it distributed on schedule wouldn't be too challenging. Boy, I loved that early Claremont/Cockrum run, though-!

Does anyone recall if the FF ever had a particular Christmas-themed issue? It does seem like that would be the ideal book for something traditional/family-focused like that.


Doug said...

Thanks already for the suggestions.

If you check the sidebar, you can find our review of X-Men #98. Man, that was a fun time for that series, all fresh and exciting!


William said...

Oh where to begin. I always loved the "Holiday" (i.e. Christmas) themed stories that would run in some comic titles this time of year. Stand-outs for me would included the aforementioned ASM #165-166 as well as the (sort of mentioned) Marvel Team-Up #1 where Spider-Man and the Human Torch team-up to battle the Sandman on Christmas Eve. This story also includes an uncredited cameo my Iron Fist's long-time squeeze Misty Knight, who Spidey and the Torch save from a mugger.

Here are a couple of other favorite Holiday comics of mine:

X-Men #143 where Kitty Pride is left alone at the X-Mansion on Christmas Eve and must battle for her life against some sort of "demon creature" that invades the house. This story is obviously an homage to the original "Alien" movie in which Kitty plays the role of Ripply and the demon stands in for the Alien. This book also has the distinction of being John Byrne's last issue as the X-Men series artist.

The Brave and the Bold #148 where Batman and Plastic Man team up to take down some criminals in "The Night The Mob Stole XMas". I especially liked this one when I was a kid because Bats and Plas eventually end up in Florida, which is my neck of the woods.

I like the Holiday comics so much that I do at one every year myself on my action figure comic site Last year I did two (both a Spider-Man and a Batman). This year I've already finished, and posted, a new Batman Holiday comic called "How The Joker Stole Christmas!" I plan to do a Marvel one this year as well (if I can think of a good story in time).

david_b said...

Not too many Bronze ones come to mind, 'cept for Spidey 130-131, the Hammerhead/Doc Ock/Spidey mix-up, with Ol' Oct walking down the aisle with Aunt May. I do remember the Bugle Christmas party scene with Peter decked in his 'hmm-it-almost-looks-trendy' ski sweater.

As for the FF story, I typically think of ish 144, the last chapter of the then-latest Doom story, with snow falling in Manhattan. Do stories count if they don't necessarily say 'christmas' but have gently falling snow..? It still feels very seasonal.

Granted, totally a Silver entry, but I still love Haney&Cardy's Teen Titan Christmas issue 13 'A Christmas Happening'. I know it was reprinted several times during the Bronze Era, so despite it's vintage feel, it's still grooves.

Redartz said...

HB- The Fantastic Four were featured in the Christmas themed Marvel Two-in-One #8. A nice issue, rather oddly (for a holiday story)featuring the Ghost Rider.

Then there was a Silver Surfer story (unfortunately I cannot recall where it appeared; perhaps one of you can enlighten me) in which he experienced snowfall. The surfer commented on the snow's seeming effect on humanity and the sense of brotherhood and peace the season inspired...

William said...

Fantastic Four #242 features a brief Christmas sequence. Sue, Reed and Franklin are gathered around the Christmas tree and Sue makes the comment--

"This is the part of the New Year that always makes me so sad, Reed darling, taking down the Christmas tree. And it's such a beauty! I don't know where you got it, but we'll never find another like it."

Reed says "I wouldn't be so sure about that, Sue."

Then he stretches his arm and pushes a button on the top of the tree and it collapses and folds itself up into a nice neat little package. Sue gets angry that it wasn't a real tree after all, and then gives Reed the cold shoulder by turning invisible.

It was great bit and one of Byrne's many little shining moments during his run on the series.

Edo Bosnar said...

Darn, William beat me to the punch on two Christmas stories that immediately came to mind: X-men #143 and the collapsable tree in FF #242.
Otherwise, I remember this really nice Legion of Super-heroes story which was actually, I'm pretty sure, an adaptation of an Arthur C. Clarke short story about the Bethlehem star. Don't know which issue it was originally in, but it was reprinted in one of those Blue Ribbon digests - and I think it was drawn by Garcia Lopez.
Also, I recall really liking that Treasury Edition Holiday Grab-bag that came out in 1976 or 1977. It reprinted a few Xmas-themed stories as I recall, and the snowball fight between the Avengers, FF and Spidey at the beginning, which I believe was a new story, really gave the whole book a nice festive holiday feel.

J.A. Morris said...

Yes, I love to break out Bronze Age Christmas stories every year!

As a kid, I used to read ASM #166 every Christmas Eve. In later years, I added the Treasury-Sized Holiday Grab Bags to my reading list. And the two X-men Christmas stories you've mentioned are also favorites.

This is one of my all-time favorite comic panels, from #166:

More recently I discovered "The Silent Night of the Batman". Batman sings Christmas Carols, I love it!:

Anonymous said...

I was thinking of that Treasury edition with the snowball fight too, Edo. One of my favourites was Spectacular Spider-Man #173, where Spidey fights Doc Ock outside Aunt May's house and they call a truce when she interrupts them; plus there's a great moment at the Daily Bugle Xmas party when Peter dunks Nick Katzenberg's head in the punchbowl!

(OK, that's technically not a Bronze Age story since it came out in 1991, but it was done by Conway/Michelinie/Sal Buscema, so it FEELS like Bronze Age!)

Mike W.

William said...

Hey Edo, I loved that Big Holiday Treasury books as well. Those were awesome.

And J.A., those are both great examples of how much fun comics used to be.

When exactly did comic books start taking themselves so seriously and it became a crime for them to be the least bit light-hearted?

I think today's creator's think that any little bit of "silliness" is equal to childish and is only meant for kids-- but that's not true. Marvel Comics were always aimed at teenagers to young adults (and the young at heart) and they didn't used to be a gloomy soap opera full of death, doom and politics.

Oh and speaking of gloom and doom, does anyone remember the DC Holiday Comic "Lobo Paramilitary Christmas Special"? Wherein the Easter Bunny hires Lobo to frag Santa Claus. It was disturbing, but my nephews liked it.

Inkstained Wretch said...

Let me direct you to Flash #73 (second volume). It's a little outside the Bronze Age but a good tale nonetheless as Wally West and Jay Garrick spend Christmas Eve running through Keystone(?) City performing good deeds: shoveling people's walks, serving the poor in a soup kitchen, getting a doctor to a pregnant woman in labor, etc.

And it's all because Jay's wife wants them out of the house while she makes Christmas dinner!

Mark Waid & Greg LaRocque play up the seasonal stuff to hilt in this one. The cover even says "Dashing through the snow!"

There's also the "Comfort and Joy" episode of Justice League the animated series which teams up Wally and the Ultrahumanite(!) to bring a hard-to-get toy to some children.

I love how the Ultrahumanite "fixes" the toy to make it teach the children classic literature.

Garett said...

Hey Edo, that Legion story by Garcia Lopez is in the '79 Super-Star Holiday Special. The whole comic is here:
(Hope Doug and Karen don't mind me linking to another blog. He's listed as one of your blogger friends.)

Wonderful art, like the splash page with Superman flying in. Also Frank Miller draws a Denny O'Neil Batman story.

Edo Bosnar said...

Almost forgot: the Christmas (and last) issue of Bizarre Adventures. Haven't read the stories in ages, so I don't know how well they hold up, but I remember liking them at the time, esp. the 'Son of Santa' and Howard the Duck stories.

Edo Bosnar said...

Garett, thanks for the link; that's definitely the story. Did some checking of my own, since I remembered reading it in a digest - it was reprinted in Best of DC Blue Ribbon Digest #11, which was dedicated to the year's best stories of 1980.

Mike said...

I was trying to remember the Batman O'Neil/Miller story and then Garett saved me the trip to the comic boxes to dig it out. That's the one that comes to mind to me because two of my favorite creators collaborate on a short story featuring my favorite superhero.

Someone mentioned an episode of Justice League, so I want to shout out one of my all-time fav episodes of Batman:TAS "Christmas With the Joker." If you've never seen it, do yourself a favor and check it out. It starts with Joker singing "Jingle Bells, Batman Smells ..." as he escapes Arkham on top of a Christmas tree rocket. Classic!

William said...

Inkstained Wretch and Mike beat me to it, but I'd also like voice my love for the DC Animated Holiday Specials, Justice League "Comfort and Joy" and Batman Animated Series "Christmas With The Joker" and also add "Holiday Knights" to the list. They are all totally awesome and I watch all three of them every year around this time.

Nothing goes better with the holidays than cartoons and super heroes.

vancouver mark said...

I scrolled down the comments waiting for somebody to steal my thunder, but nobody said it, yay...

I suggest you check out Teen Titans # 13 from 1967, the "A Christmas Happening!" issue. I bought it at the time, Christmas, grade two. It's about as wierd as mainstream '60s comics get, a retelling of A Christmas Carol with the TT playing the ghosts.

941 ukbsal

vancouver mark said...

No, that last bit isn't some sort of kryptic kabbalah krap, I'm just inept.

Bruce said...

Love the mention of Amazing Spider-Man #165, as that was my first-ever Marvel purchase and the book that began my love affair with comics. Y'all should review that story sometime (hint, hint....)

Another great holiday story is the Enemy Ace "Silent Night" story, in which the brutality of war takes a night off on Christmas Eve. It's a really nice story by John Byrne & Andy Kubert.

david_b said...


Sorry for stealin' your thunder after all, but I made the mention of Titan's 'Happening' on the 7th posting above. Was always my favorite.

LOVE great Silver Age Cardy art.

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