Yet again, I serve notice that a series on Batman and Robin stories from the 50s will now commence after Xmas! That’s when I’ll review the last 1oo page “Batman” Super-Spec of the 70s and kicking off a number of posts looking at 80 page Giants.
Now however, it’s just after midday: I’ve bought a panto ticket and had a mince pie at a feeder primary Xmas Fayre. So, for the next couple of posts, I’m looking at Christmas comic books of yesteryear.
The first entry is pretty recent actually; the Marvel Holiday Magazine 2010. This big, glossy publication opens with a Bronze Age reprint. It’s “Tis the Season”- the framing sequence from Marvel Treasury 13 (1976). It’s an odd choice, since it’s a series of vignettes designed to introduce reprints we don’t get to read! However, there’s a glimpse of the mainstays of the Avengers in the Shooter/Perez era; the late-70s period when I bought a Marvel a day, more or less. Real trad “House of Ideas” comfort food comics from Stern, Tuska and Perlin.
“I’ll Be Doom For Xmas” by Scott Lobdell and John Byrne is a parody of “Twas the Night Before Christmas”. It’s witty and charming and hails from What The? 1991. Cameos for Marvel’s Green Lantern, Quasar and Ditko’s teen hero Speedball seem to speak of a gentler, more innocent time at Marvel.
On the other hand, “GLX-Mas” from 2005, is a series of macabre gags from Dan Slott and a plethora of artists including England’s Paul Grist ( a bleakly ironic tale for Doorman, the nebbish avatar of death). The star is wacky Squirrel Girl but the butt of the joke is Blue Beetle Jaime-parody, Grasshopper, killed off in a couple of pages. John Byrne’s Great Lakes misfits are vehicles for superhero satire with a blackly comic tone.
The remainder of the mag is given over to new material: short stories with a holiday theme.
“Rock of Ages” is a Kirby pastiche by Nick Dragotta with a sadly stilted script by Stan the Man. It focuses on the Thing’s Jewish heritage with a broadly comic ( but rather unsophisticated) plot.
“Holiday Heat” , a Marvel Divas story apes Sex and the City and revolves around the festive device of Firestar’s breast cancer. More engaging characters like Black Cat and Hellcat have little to do when skaters at iconic Rockerfeller Plaza are endangered. An all-female creative team does little to lift this soapy television rip-off.
“Merry Freakin’ Christmas” is a short with Rob Liefeld’s bafflingly-popular Deadpool: the comedy version of Deathstroke. This is a laboured parody of mindless violence which takes a swipe at Rankin Bass tv specials. Whatever they are.
“X-Mas” by Jay Faerber sees Nightcrawler employed quite literally as an elf in a shopping mall and becoming involved in a kidnapping. It’s nice to see the classic All-New X-Men line-up circa 1980 – unfotunately sans Kitty Pryde. The story is however rather lacklustre.
The mag closes with a two-page gag feature “The Hairy Ho-Ho-Hosts of Hoggoth”: a Top Ten of Marvel’s Greatest Beards. Reaaally reaching for the gag there.
Leaving aside both the unconvincing, soapy melodrama and morbid teen comedy, this is a mildly entertaining collection.
However, it’s not quite Xmassy enough so the next posts will look at DC holiday specials from the last decade…
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