Archive for April, 2018

Posted Monday, April 30th, 2018 by Barry

Spider-Man: Christmas in Dallas

Dallas is known for many things; the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, its football team, oil and cotton, a prime-time soap, but not New York superheroes.

That didn’t stop Marvel Comics Group and the Dallas Times Herald from offering at least five different adventures as give-aways.

America had just learned the answer to, “Who shot JR,” when the first of the lot was published. Most teamed Spider-Man with the Hulk, the latter still featured on his own television show. By the fourth venture creative heads decided to celebrate Christmas with Spidey trading quips and fisticuffs with his old foe the Kingpin.

A reluctant Peter Parker – who has never spent a Christmas with anyone, but Aunt May – is cajoled into acting as J. Jonah Jamison’s personal photographer for a dinner with billionaires.

The Kingpin, who didn’t receive an invitation, substitutes himself as the hired Santa. With his flunkies the Kingpin crashes the party taking all in attendance hostage. His asking price is $10 million per head.

Pre-dating the original Diehard movie, Peter slips away to trade casual clothes for his union suit. One-by-one he takes out the Kingpin’s hired help forcing a showdown between he and Kingpin.

In the end, it’s host Stanley Mudge who helps Spidey defeat Kingpin and save Christmas Eve – for his guests and Peter is who whisked back east in Mudge’s personal jet to spend Christmas day with Aunt May.

In addition to the first two team ups with the Hulk, Spidey found himself in search if the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders and in one final adventure with his Amazing Friends, Iceman and Firestar.

No figures can be found to see if the promotions boosted sales, but by the Dec. 8, 1991, the Times Herald shut its doors. Assets were bought the next day for $55 million and dispersed.

 

Posted Wednesday, April 25th, 2018 by Barry

DC Universe Holiday Bash III (1998)

DC saved the best for last. The DC Universe Holiday Bash III is the final installment of Christmas specials before Y2K featuring seven stories running a gamut of characters.

Superman and Batman headline the book in “World’s Finest Christmas.” Writer Karl Kesel expounds on the toy collecting trend of the day. The Captain Action knock-off featured is Toyman’s revenge for a believed slight. Batman brings a bittersweet tale to conclusion with an act of kindness.

“The Joker’s Twelve Days of Christmas” mangles the holiday staple in a murderous take off.

DC Universe Holiday Bash III (1998)

DC Universe Holiday Bash III (1998)

Wonder Woman returns to her newfound fold for Christmas to be accused of foregoing her heritage and beliefs in “Heathen Ways.”

Chuck Dixon proves why he was the Bat Family scribe for so long with “Alone for the Holidays.” Robin finds himself part of an extended family so he’s never really alone – especially at Christmas time.

Prison is not the place to be for Christmas as Shrapnel discovers. His short-term vacation from the Slab brings Christmas “Home for the Holidays.”

Bat Lash has “An Eye for Detail” saving a frontier family from a dastardly land deal.

Finally, Impulse creator Mark Waid pens, with Devin Grayson, “No, Bart, There is No Santa Claus.” Bart Allen’s naivety and impulsive nature send him around the world as Santa’s helper.

The package is wrapped by a two-page spread as imagined by Sergio Aragones.

DC would take a break from Christmas specials for the next several years allowing the individual writers to pen any holiday tales in their respective titles.

 

Posted Sunday, April 22nd, 2018 by Barry

Scooby-Doo (1997) 131

Scooby-Doo (1997) 131

Mystery Inc. celebrated Earth Day 2008 with a special cover and story in issue 131.

Observed April 22 every year, Earth Day commemorates and encourages environmental protection. It was inaugurated in 1970, but conceived in 1969 – the same year Scooby-Doo premiered – by peace activist John McConnell to honor Earth and its life-giving resources.

Fighting the good fight, Scooby and gang curtail the illegal activities of one Mr. Mort of Mort Chemicals who is clandestinely emptying waste from his defunct factory into a local river. To scare off do gooders bent on cleaning up the river he dresses as “The Toxic Troll.”

Daphne features prominently in the second feature entitled “Fashionistas” as Mystery Inc. shuts down the shenanigans at a haunted fashion show.

The books wraps up with a two-page “Velma’s Monsters of the World – Archer,” explaining the legend of the ghost squaw.

So, remember Mother Earth today. After helping clean up or recycle treat yourself to a re-run of Yogi’s Gang (aka Yogi’s Ark Lark) or simply kick back with a classic Scooby-Doo and gang. They never get old.

Posted Wednesday, April 18th, 2018 by Barry

Looney Tunes 73

Looney Tunes 73

Looney Tunes 73

This was a first-run story that was later reprinted in Looney Tunes issue 193. Like any Bugs Bunny cartoon, the re-run is still welcome.

Bugs and Daffy find themselves lost at the North Pole after the inevitable wrong turn. An ever helpful Santa takes the wayward wanderers in for warmth and a tour of the factory. Daffy sees dollar signs and plays Jimmy Hoffa to the elves. While his attempts to unionize the indigenous help is well received by the elves, Santa and Bugs take umbrage.

In usual Bugs Bunny fashion, the rascally rabbit is able to defuse the situation.

Daffy then attempts to atone for his actions only to worsen the situation. Santa and Rudolph are knocked cold and the un-merry mallard is recruited to help pull the sleigh. Bugs dons the dress reds and plays Santa.

Guest appearances include Wile E. Coyote who is on the receiving end of a faux road runner that leads to dental problems. Sylvester the cat and Tweety Bird re-enact their “Snow Business” animated short.

Finally the duo alight on the roof of DC’s corporate headquarters in time to wish everyone a Merry Christmas.

Posted Monday, April 16th, 2018 by Barry

DC Universe Holiday Bash II (1997)

DC Universe Holiday Bash II (1997)

DC Universe Holiday Bash II (1997)

This sappy sampling from the DC stable is a cross section of the season. Included are stories of Christmas, Hanukah and Kwanzaa. Writer Dick Grayson shoehorns in some Buddhism as well amidst the other celebrations and commercialism.

“The Present” showcases the – then – new team of Green Lantern and Green Arrow. Last minute shoppers are taken hostage by a young man confusing tender caring with legal tender.

Batman is the silent guardian of hope in “The House of Peace,” though a young boy saves faith.

Ty Templeton handles creative chores in “Present Tense.” Santa lays siege to Darkseid’s domain to conduct Christmas business.

Black Lightening handles a gang’s blood feud in “Twas the Night Before Kwanzaa.”

Santa isn’t the only one watching who knows what recipients really need. Superman receives an early and much needed present in “The Gift.”

“I Left My Heart at the Justice Society Canteen” is Howard Chaykin’s love letter to Golden Age comic book creators.

Sgt. Rock is visited by the ghosts of wars past, present and future in “A Christmas Carol.” The vision is as shocking as it is undeniable.

The New Year nears with Nightwing and Oracle. “The Old Lane” is a touching tale of youth past and problems present.

Finally, Rich Burchett offers an ornaments page reminiscent of the original Christmas With the Superheroes Limited Collectors editions of 25 years earlier.

Posted Wednesday, April 11th, 2018 by Barry

X-Files X-Mas Special (2016)

X-Files X-Mas Special (2016)

X-Files X-Mas Special (2016)

Joe Harris pens a rehash of the Christmas story sans Tiny Tim – and with a far more apocalyptical ending.

The Smoking Man is cast as Jacob Marley while Mulder is haunted by images of his sister. His quiet Christmas Eve in the office is shattered when Mulder must save Scully from a mass hallucination connected to his visions.

By the end no one is sure what happened, but even the Smoking Man is smiling.

When the series aired originally, two holiday-themed episodes were featured, “Christmas Carol” during season five and “How the Ghosts Stole Christmas” in season six.

Posted Monday, April 9th, 2018 by Barry

Donald Duck (2015) 8

IDW dusted off two foreign Christmas stories for the December 2015 Donald Duck issue number eight.

The first, “Spaced Out Christmas,” was originally published in the Italian Topolino Disney comic book 1568 in 1985. Nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie and Uncle Scrooge McDuck attempt a Plan 9 From Outer Space-scheme to give Donald the perfect Christmas gift.

The Netherlands-published “Counterfeit Christmas” is a reprint from 2002 originally read in Donald Duck “stripboek” 17. Donald utilizes Gyro Gearloose’s duplicator ray to help the needy through Christmas. The Beagle Boys see dollar signs when they catch wind of the device, but an army of one halts their get-rich-quick plan.

Posted Friday, April 6th, 2018 by Barry

DC Universe Holiday Bash (1996) 1

DC Universe Holiday Bash (1996) 1

DC Universe Holiday Bash (1996) 1

This is the first of three Christmas specials leading to the new millennium. Readers are treated to seven stories featuring Superman, the New Gods, Catwoman, Etrigan the Demon, Green Lantern, the Flash and Batman.

In the first tale Lois Lane retells a story from Superman’s early days. “The Benefaction of Peace” proves loneliness was a problem for even the mightiest of Earth’s heroes.

In “A Highfather Christmas,” the Highfather and Orion embody the commercialism of the holidays with the spirit of the season. They rendezvous with chance and circumstance for a memorable Christmas Eve.

Catwoman shows her softer side in “Bearing Gifts We Traverse Afar.”

Ertigan has a laugh when one man’s greed is spoiled by the wishes of a child in “Santa’s Little Helper.”

Ignorance doesn’t take a holiday as “The Vessel” proves. Green Lantern learns the lesson of Hanukah by showing a little faith.

Wally West speeds around the world in search of the perfect gift. When his thoughts catch up to him, a voice from the past reminds him to listen more closely in “Present Tense.”

Finally, Batman proves to Alfred Christmas Eve isn’t just “One More Night.”

Posted Wednesday, April 4th, 2018 by Barry

Pink Panther Classics 5

Pink Panther Classics 5

Pink Panther Classics 5

It’s a, what else, “Pink Christmas” for the DePatie-Freleng feline.

Waking to the tinkling of a Salvation Army Santa’s bell and a frigid blanket of snow, Pinkie spends the day trying to survive. With no food or warm clothing – beyond his natural fur coat – the combination of impending starvation and freezing temperatures make it all the harder.

As with most misadventures without his usual foil, the stumpy, mustache wearing “Little Man,” the Panther suffers indignities and bruises at the whim of his writers.

For purists, this is not the mute, slinky Panther of early years, but the Panther sporting the David Niven-styled purr.

Oh, and the book does come with a ho, ho, ho and happy ending for Pinkie who finally gets his belly full and his hide warmed.

Posted Sunday, April 1st, 2018 by Barry

Swamp Thing (1985) 88 (unpublished)

 

 

Over 30 years later “Morning of the Magician” remains unpublished.

“Morning” was to land Swamp Thing at Calvary during the crucifixion of Jesus Christ as the swan song for writer Rich Veitch on the title.

Leading to what has become one of the most controversial stories – both on and off page – in comicdom’s history, Swamp Thing was catapulted through time meeting with various characters in DC’s past era comic books. Included were Sgt. Rock, Enemy Ace and Bat Lash. In issue 87 Swamp Thing met King Arthur in Camelot where he was to make one final leap in time to find the Holy Grail.

The initial script had been approved and artist Michael Zulli had most of the artwork completed when DC’s President Jenette Kahn cancelled the issue. Many reasons abound, most centered on the backlash of Martin Scorsese’s recent Last Temptation of Christ, Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses and even Madonna’s much maligned Pepsi ad shilled to the tune of Like a Prayer.

While his audience was small – compared to flagship characters like Batman and Superman – rights had been sold for a Swamp Thing cartoon to air the following year as well as a licensed likeness toy line. Tim Burton’s first Batman movie was also on the horizon and Kahn wanted smooth sailing.

All speculation.

The fact is Veitch was so incensed he left the DC fold. According to interviews during and after the fall out, Veitch’s contract was about to end and he had planned to leave Swamp Thing after the story arc ended. But, he was to continue working for the company on other projects.

Prior to his popular Sandman, Neil Gaiman had been tapped to add a few stories, but in a show of solidarity he declined the title.

While the script has never been officially released, the artwork was on display at the Words and Pictures museum in Boston for a time.

A copy of the script and completed art can be viewed thanks to comics blog 20th Century Danny Boy.