The school holidays have arrived and I’m feeling a bit under the weather. The body always knows when it’s appropriate to be ill, when deadlines are done. Nonetheless, I took a trip to Inverness on Saturday but found my local comic shop had closed down.
Heroes For Sale had been trading for about 7 years, I understand. The stock was rather haphazard but in the year of Winter Soldier, Amazing 2, DOFP and Guardians of the Galaxy. kids obviously want dvds and toys more than comics.
Indeed, this year, I’ve bought fewer comics than at any point than the mid-90s. I found the return of the Legion in Justice League Unlimited lacklustre and uninspired. While Ms. Marvel has charm and verve, Mighty Avengers has been subsumed in a derivative stunt for Captain America and the Falcon. The series I’ve most enjoyed this year was Byrne’s 30-year-old FF- which I was reading in paperbacks bought in Heroes for Sale. To get new comics, I either have to go on online or take a 1hr 45m train ride to Aberdeen.
So we turn for comfort and joy to the comics of the past and Marvel Holiday Special 1996, which I bought the other week on ebay. That was my first Xmas in the first flat I bought, in Marwick Street, off the Parade. I was still working on Directory Enquiries and that week, I read Kingdom Come in a boxed set with a die-cut cardboard sleeve. Despite still reading a few of the X-Men comics at that time, however, I undoubtedly passed this special by.
Not a Creature Was Stirring: Mark Waid and Pat Oliffe trap Spidey and JJJ for a bonding session in a collapsed warehouse. This is perhaps the best-written vignette but it seems too important a moment in the history of the characters to throw away in a Yuletide grab-bag.
Unto Others: Kitty Pryde retelles the Hanukkah story to a kid in a burned-out church. Evan Skolnik and Josh Hood produce a seasonal fable that is so 90s it hurts.
Hark! The Herald: The Silver Surfer seeks out the Star of Bethlehem. He then encounters a Watcher- oddly, not a giant babyman but something resembling a bunch of grapes! Sentimental cartoon Kozmic from Perez and Leonardi with Stan Lee dialogue.
Ambush At Angel Rock: my favourite story in the special is a tribute to Lee and Kirby by Karl Kesel and Patrick Zircher. The Rawhide Kid takes on the Wizard of the West and his gang, inspiring a young Isaac Stark into the bargain. It’s a Cowboys vs Aliens romp and the villain is surely an ancestor of the FF’s Wingless Wizard.
Humbug: the special concludes with a dour monologue on consumerism by Wolverine which is contrasted with the other X-Men giving presents. De Falco’s corny, melodramatic first person style is familiar from his Spider-Girl stories; the art, again, by Hood is Manga-inspired and not to my taste.
Apologies for a somewhat Grinch-y, congested post. I hope you and yours have a very merry Christmas.
Coming soon: Doctor Who and Santa; Daleks in Inverness; Don Heck and Thunderworld
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