Monthly Archives January 2018

Happy Holidays from your Heroes

You know you were loved if you woke Christmas morning to find presents nestled in superhero wrapping paper back in the day.

Not sure when this roll hit store shelves, but it was before the dollar stores of today when consumers can fly their geek flags on the cheap.

If Mental Floss is to be believed, the colorful covering we take for granted today celebrated its centennial in 2017.

Hero Holidays

Hero Holidays

The Japanese and Koreans were ahead of the curve using colored cloth for wrapping purposes at least by the 1700s though some records date the tradition around the first century. A functional manila paper was in fashion by the Victorian era though the well-to-do used a more colorful tissue paper.

This was the norm until 1917 when brothers Joyce and Rollie Hall ran out and substituted with a more substantial, higher grade of paper in their stationary store. It cost a whopping $.10 a sheet and promptly sold out.

As did the next offering. And, the next. And, the next.

By 1919 the brothers believed their find was not a fad and began marketing on a larger scale basis creating a tradition we use today.

Most know their brand by the name Hallmark.

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Spider-Man’s Tangled Web 21

Darwyn Cooke turned in what has become a festive favorite for Christmas 2003.

Under the appropriately named Tangled Web imprint, Spider-Man shares the title with no less than the Fantastic Four and Medusa and Crystal from the Inhumans.

Spider-Man’s Tangled Web 21

Spider-Man’s Tangled Web 21

When a snowstorm shuts the city down on Christmas Eve, Spidey indulges in a seasonal sulk when Mary Jane is stranded in Philadelphia. Rescuing a busload of orphans alleviates some of the self-pity.

J. Jonah Jameson is none too thrilled to learn Peter Parker has spent the Bugle’s money on Spider-Man action figures and even less so when he learned his freelance photographer had forgotten the gift for Jameson’s wife.

In the meantime, Sue Storm, Jane VanDyne and Crystal’s shopping trip is interrupted by a robbery at Macey’s. Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four appear for a confusing slugfest culminating in a happy ending for all but the Puppet Master who masterminded the crime.

Cooke is best known for deconstructing the comic books he grew up with including the bridge between the Golden and Silver Age of comics, New Frontier, in 2004.

 

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The Life of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Golden Legacy Illustrated History Series issue 13 provided a pictorial biography entitled The Life of Martin Luther King, Jr.

The man who dreamed of peace and equality was silenced with violence April 4, 1968, depriving generations of a voice resonating in reason. His accomplishments live on with a day, one of only four persons given a federal holiday, commemorated to honor his memory.

Golden Legacy has made the Illustrated Martin Luther King Jr. issue available to read online – via their website – in its entirety.

The Life of Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Green Lantern (1960) 76

Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams began their much acclaimed collaboration with the Green Lantern/Green Arrow Hard Traveling Heroes saga with issue 76.

When Lantern sides with the law Arrow derides his fellow hero for not considering justice in the equation. Arrow launches into a searing soliloquy causing Lantern to question his actions.

Green Lantern (1960) 76

As Arrow stands on his soapbox, he honors the memory of Martin Luther King, Jr., by reminding all listening, “On the streets of Memphis a good black man died…” referring to the Noble Peace Prize awardee for his efforts in Civil Rights. The image of King and Robert Kennedy are engraved in the background of the panel during the statement.

Green Lantern (1960) 76 interior

The comic book began an 11-issue run over the next year in which Lantern, Hal Jorden and Arrow, Oliver Queen cross America confronting the issues of the day.

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Mars Attacks the Holidays

Regular and most variant covers promote a Christmas theme, but Mars Attacks the Holidays levels its sites on Halloween, Veterans Day and Thanksgiving as well as Christmas.

Fred Hembeck handles Halloween with a 1950s teen party akin to the same era’s drive-in B movie.

Bill Morrison and Tone Rodriguiez piggyback on Orson Wells’ War of the Worlds broadcast. Veterans dating back to the War Between the States celebrate the first Armistice Day by whupping up on the landing party routing a full-scale invasion.

American culture is roasted in a battle of Michael Bay excesses when Thanksgiving is attacked.

Christmas rings down the curtain on both the book and year with post-apocalyptic survivors recreating a Christmas Eve from 1914 when No Man’s Land served as a multi-national pitch for one evening of peace before the bloodshed was renewed.

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Brave and the Bold (1955) 148

Brave and the Bold (1955) 148

Brave and the Bold (1955) 148

Batman and Plastic Man team to save Gotham’s Christmas traditions.

Gotham City is in the throes of a “buttlegging” operation during the holidays with illegal cigarettes flooding the streets. But when fir trees begin disappearing from street corners, stores, nurseries and, finally, the beloved Lacy’s Department Store display at Gotham Plaza the mayor has had enough.

Down-on-his-luck Plastic Man lends a hand in tracking the thieves to the warmer climes of Conch Key, Fla., where Big Jake Doyle is throwing a holiday shindig to eliminate his “buttlegging” competition. For some reason the gangster likes the idea of stealing all the pines from Gotham City to use as his decorations.

Of course the Dark Knight and slippery shamus foil the plan and return the treasured tree to Gotham Plaza by Christmas Eve.

Gotta admit it’s funny to see Batman tooling around town in his Super Friend’s-inspired convertible with the snow flying.

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Sugar and Spike 32

Sugar and Spike 32

Sugar and Spike “Help Out Santa,” are “Babysat by Santa,” and experience “Twas the Night Before Something” as well as “Spike Becomes a Superman for a Day.”

The holidays continue to befuddle the bothersome duo as well as confound me that no one ever called Child Protective Services on either’s parents. In the first story Sugar and Spike “break” Santa. To make amends they don the red suit and accidently collect $80 for the Xmas fund for Underprivileged Children.

Next he toddlers attempt to pacify a department store Santa whom they believe may toss them in the “brook” if they misbehave.

Then Sugar mistakes an accident for Spike’s super strength.

Finally the tykes surprise their parents with Christmas.

Tossed in for good measure are a few one-page gags, “Pint-Size Pin-Ups,” and Christmas cards that can be fashioned for friends.

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Ghost Rider X-Mas Special

Ghost Rider Xmas Special

Robbie Reyes’ little brother, Gabe, is chided for his continued belief in Santa Claus. Those same bullies become believers when the Yang to Kris Kringle’s Yin, Krampus, kidnaps them for supper.

Reyes was tapped as the new Ghost Rider in 2014, then introduced into the Marvel cinematic universe as a recurring character in the fourth season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., played by Gabriel Luna.

The new Spirit of Vengeance hails from East Los Angeles and spins around town in a 1969 Dodge Charger rather than the familiar motorcycle. Reyes became Ghost Rider after stealing Calvin Zabo’s, aka Mr. Hyde, car and being gunned down by mercenaries attempting to pilfer the potion Zabo uses to become Hyde.

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MAD 365

The usual Gang of Idiots celebrated the 1987 Christmas season in satirical style with three offerings: “Christmas Carols for the Dysfunctional Family” by Frank Jacobs and Tom Bunk; “Fearless Predictions for 1998” by Desmond Devlin and artist Paul Coker and the “Office Christmas Party Mistletoe Agreement” from writer Barry Liebmann and Marshall Vandruff.

MAD 365

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ALF (1988) 9

ALF (1988) 9

Writer Michael Gallagher chose the January 1989 issue of ALF to survey the coming year’s calendar.

Billed as the “All Holiday Issue,” readers won’t be familiar with any of them as ALF takes issue with the Tanner family’s obsession with Earth celebrations. To appease their intergalactic guest, patriarch Willie allows ALF to commemorate a Melmacian holiday. ALF chooses Twangle the 23rd, “Eat Off The Floor Day,” celebrated in honor of his home planet’s greatest inventor, Alexander Graham Cracker, the creator of linoleum.

This is followed with a tale of “The Melvoutinary War,” Alf’s version of fight for independence and the final story, “A Tree-Mendous Mistake”, the alien’s version of Arbor Day where celebrants wear a plant for the day.

The comic book ran about the length of the series, four years, with 50 issues while 99 episodes aired on television. ALF proved marginally more successful than My Favorite Martian which series’ creators may have copied the premise from. My Favorite Martian’s comic book only lasted nine issues, though.

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