Monthly Archives May 2018

Remembering those who have fallen in service to their country

Thank You

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Original Ghost Rider 19

Known for reprints of their popular characters, Marvel mined the 1970s Ghost Rider stories for Original Ghost Rider. The title only traveled 20 issues before the gas tank ran dry, but did make a pit stop in issue 19 for “Silent Night…Deadly Night.”

While not from a Ghost Rider book, the holiday fare still showcased Johnny Blaze, alongside Ben Grimm, in the Thing’s Marvel Two-in-One imprint.

Four Color Holidays has glossed over the book in an earlier post, but, like Marvel, we’ll retread familiar ground.

Original Ghost Rider 19

Original Ghost Rider 19

The story takes place Christmas Eve 1974. The Fantastic Four are entertaining Namorita, Wundarr and Medusa with the lighting of the Christmas tree. Mr. Fantastic has absented himself to his lab monitoring a stellar disturbance over Arizona. Ben Grimm volunteers to physically investigate so Reed can spend time with friends and family.

Ghost Rider has noticed the disturbance and opts to investigate himself.

To meet the Two-In-One title requirements, Ben and Ghost Rider join forces to battle lesser Marvel villain Miracle Man. Using his matter manipulation skills, Miracle Man has chosen to recreate the Immaculate Conception.

As stated in the previous review, the story borders on absurdity, which is almost typical of the 1970s Marvel era.

Flash forward to the early ‘90s and comic books have become self-inflated parodies of themselves again. Characters like Ghost Rider have been resurrected and their books are selling like hotcakes in the new speculator market. Multiple copies flew off spin racks and shelves, especially when other hot characters guest stared. By issue 15 Marvel had slapped together a special glow-in-the-dark cover.

The public had tired of the character after 93 issues and he was retired to guest appearances in other books.

Still, he will always be immortalized in the 1974 Marvel version of the second coming.

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Clive Barker’s Hellraiser Dark Holiday Special (1992)

Clive Barker’s Hellraiser Dark Holiday Special (1992)

Clive Barker’s Hellraiser Dark Holiday Special (1992)

Clive Barker’s Hellraiser Dark Holiday Special qualifies as a Christmas comic in name, cover and framing story only.

Loosely based on the Hellraiser franchise that spawned nine films, the Marvel vision featured an anthology of stories and characters. The series ran 20 issues, several one shots and four mini-series.

The holiday special consists of three vignettes bordering a soup kitchen massacre. Three Cenobites have been dispatched to restore order to the chaos of carnage.

The three short stories include “Child’s Play,” “Sheddim” (Hebrew for demon or spirit) and “Nursery Crime.” Each of the tales are triggered by a totem found at the shelter. The first is a cheap puzzle box stamped “Made in Taiwan” designed after the Lemarchand Configuration fans are familiar with that signals players are ready for pleasure.

That’s followed by a new take on the old Golam legend in pre-war America.

Nursery Crime is a beautifully painted short of a children’s tale thought to bring fame, but instead pulls the reader into the story itself.

Boom! Studios took over publishing rights in 2011 with Clive Barker’s graphic novel imprint Seraphim Inc. assuming the title in 2017.

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Marvel Adventures Spider-Man (2005) 46

Baby, it’s cold outside. Cold enough to freeze the webbing in your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man’s web-shooters. Still, it’s two days before Christmas – in New York City – whatta ya expect?

This exothermic process will cause our hero problems later, but is foreshadowed several times before the big brouhaha.

Marvel Adventures Spider-Man (2005) 46

Marvel Adventures Spider-Man (2005) 46

As stated above, it’s just days before Christmas and Peter Parker is cash poor. Though gifted with the strength and agility of his name-sake, Peter just can’t catch a break. Crime is on the downside and he needs $99 for Aunt May’s Christmas gift.

No amount of web swinging bears fruit. He does mistake two well-meaning Santas for the Santa burglar. Spidey even assaults a father dressed as Saint Nick trying to impress his children.

The hapless hero finally seems to make good when he not only defeats the Chameleon – surprise villain – but is able to document the fight in photos. True to Parker luck there’s no one to pay him for his photos and Peter is back to square one.

He finally realizes it’s not the dollar amount attached to the gift, but the heart strings. In a Christmas miracle even JJJ comes through.

Marvel Adventures is an all-ages imprint formally published under Marvel Age. The stories are one-and-done rather than multi-issue arcs. The imprint ran from 2005 to 2010 when it was rebooted as Marvel Adventures Spider-Man and Marvel Adventures Super Heroes. Each ended in 2012 to be retitled Ultimate Spider-Man and The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Super Heroes Adventures to dovetail with Disney XDs cartoon block.

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Mickey Mouse (2015) 7

In 2015 IDW signed a deal with Disney to publish comic books based on some of the company’s best-known characters. Those titles included Uncle Scrooge, Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse.

For the first holiday season IDW dusted off a multi-international reprinting, though only the first, “The Christmas Tree Crimes” was an actual Christmas story. When I say Christmas, the season was basically a backdrop for a holiday mystery.

Originally published in the Italian Topolino issue 370 in 1962, the fumetto had Mickey as the local police’s best hired private eye attempting to solve the mystery of the missing firs.

Spoiler Alert:  Goofy inadvertently solves the crime that began in Hong Kong and stretched to wherever you read the issue.

Also included, though not Christmas stories are “A Goofy Look at Snow,” a Dutch reproduction from issue 50; “A Pot Shot” from the first British Mickey Mouse annual; and “While We Were Watiting,” a Danish Anders & Co., issue 39 from 2012.

Idea and Design Works (IDW) may best be known for launching the 30 Days of Night franchise. Originally pitched as a comic book and then movie, both ideas were rejected until IDW showed faith. DreamWorks, MGM and Senator International all tossed cash around with the latter earning the rights.

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Steam Wars Holiday Special

To honor Star Wars Day, Four Color Holidays has trotted out a rare treat from Antarctic Press published in 2013.

Steam Wars Holiday Special is a parody of the Star Wars Holiday Special – if that’s possible.

Instead of Wookies, readers receive bears. Instead of Life Day readers get A Day of Life. More importantly readers only waste a few minutes of their life rather than two hours as with the 1978 television follow up to Star Wars.

Gone is the variety show format that dominated prime time specials of the 1970s. Steam Wars sheds the dead weight of Harvey Korman in his multi-role embarrassment, Bea Arthur as the barkeep, Jefferson Starship in their shoe horned performance and – maybe most importantly – no Diahann Carroll giving new meaning to patriarch Itchy’s name.

The Steam Wars Holiday Special is more action oriented focusing on a family surviving the holidays during occupation.

Granted there’s no first appearance of Boba Fett or cameos by the franchise principles. Those are offset with a hail of bullets and violence not permitted by CBS in ’78. The bears are much cuter in their page portrayal than Chewbacca’s family; cuddly as they go about readying for the big day.

Steam Wars Holiday Special

The inspiration for the television special was originally created to sate appetites between Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back. George Lucas’ vision had become a merchandising monster. Creator and licensees did not want the franchise to fade from memory, so Lucas sketched an outline and network executives took over the reigns.

Since it aired Nov. 17, 1978, the special has become a much maligned black eye for Lucas who has disclaimed any participation. The one association that seemed to bear fruit was Nelvana’s. The company responsible for the Boba Fett short, “The Faithful Wookie,” was later tapped to animate Droids and Ewoks.

The one downside to the printed special is it may be harder to find than a fourth- or fifth-generation copy of what spawned it.

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