Monthly Archives November 2018

Spider-Man Holiday Special 1995

Spider-Man Holiday Special 1995

Spider-Man Holiday Special 1995

For me, Spider-Man has an expiration date. From 1962 to sometime in the late 1980s.

These are the magic years for me. The ones covering my initial discovery of the character; the books I read growing up.

By the time this holiday collection of Spidey and his amazing friends and family emerged, I’d ceased to read any of his titles. It wouldn’t be until Brian Michael Bendis created the Ultimate Spider-Man would I return. That was still years away.

After meandering through that lead, I’ll say it’s an okay read. The Holiday Special. Sure, there are some plot devices that baffle me. With little background after five or six years away many things had happened. Especially the Clone Saga that seeped into some of the stories.

Black Cat and Venom’s popularity are in evidence as each star in their own story. Aunt May – who is dead (?) at this point – guides former beau Willie Lumpkin to romance.

But, the shortcomings are forgiven with “Merry Christmas, Mr. Storm.” The final tale told, it’s touching and sweet as the new Spider-Man (?) meets the Human Torch for their annual gift exchange atop the Statue of Liberty Christmas morning.

Sholly Fisch crafted a flashback to stir memories of Spider-Man in his younger days. The sequence is bookended in the current Spider-Man timeline, again, hearkening back to the clone era. Actually, the clone storyline is the basis for the story.

As stated, the remainder of the book is dedicated to some sappy storytelling with “A Matter of Faith,” “The Venom Claus,” “The Cat Who Stole Christmas” and “Companions.”

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Flash (1987) 73

Wally West assumed the mantle of Flash following DC’s condensing of multiple universes with Crisis on Infinite Earths in 1985. Prior, Wally was a back-up feature in the Barry Allen Flash comic book first appearing in issue 110 (Flash 1959). Later he would become a founding member of the junior Justice

Flash (1987) 73

League called the Teen Titans as Kid Flash.

Barry Allen “died” in issue eight of the original Crisis imprints sacrificing himself to save the multiverse. A sad event for us Silver-Age fans of the Scarlet Speedster.

Yet the rebooted Flash (1987) with Wally in the red togs was an excellent series. Enough so Mark Waid’s “Christmas Rush” is a little disappointing. Not that it’s a bad story, but you feel it’s a bit rushed. Pun intended.

Wally and Golden-Age Flash, Jay Garrack, spend Christmas Eve as Santa’s helpers averting disaster where they find it. Their night ends with a Christmas Miracle, helped along by Wally, as a young family finds redemption in remorse and new beginnings.

As eve turns to Christmas day, Wally is reminded simpler presents are the most meaningful.

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Bizarre Adventures 34

To be honest, when I pulled this outta the Christmas comic book box I had completely forgotten why I’d picked it up in the first place. Beyond it has a Christmas cover and obviously is a holiday issue. As if the skeleton in the red-union suit on the cover shinnying down the chimney wasn’t enough the cover blurb reads, “Special Hate-The-Holidays Issue!”

I started the first story, “Son of Santa,” a Mark Gruenwald/Alan Kupperberg production. Not the greatest, but passable. As the spoiler title announces, Santa’s long-lost son learns of his legacy, avenges his father’s death and keeps the traditions alive.

By the time I came to the second installment of the anthology book, simply titled “Howard the Duck,” I remembered why I really bought this.

Steve Grant and Paul Smith send the un-merry mallard through a parody of It’s a Wonderful Life. My biggest complaint is how brief the story is. Not Mr. Duck at his best, but I love me some HTD.

“Dr. Deth” by Larry Hama and Bob Camp is fairly incoherent. As is Mike Carlin’s “Slaybells.”

“Santa Bites the Big Apple,” Allen Milgram’s offering, could be an unused Golden Age EC script that didn’t pass muster.

Finally, “Buck Bizarre” is a two-page tale that does little to redeem anything before or after Howard’s story.

An interesting cover with little substance – other than Howard – to follow. Not a bad encapsulation of the decade to come.

Bizzare Adventures 34

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The Vampire’s Christmas

The Vampire's Christmas

The Vampire’s Christmas

The Vampire’s Christmas is a meandering tale of Tobias Esque, the vampire, trolling the streets of New York on Christmas Eve in search of his next meal.

Joseph Michael Linsner and Mike Dubisch (literally) paint a lavish backdrop that does little to save the soul of the story. Esque, as he’s referred to through much of the book, has few redeeming qualities. Not that he worries about what readers thinks. During his search, his travels take him along a path of holiday cliches. Each of which he pontificates over giving voice to much of how we feel.

A brief origin allows the reader little insight into his past giving even less reason to feel any remorse for his affliction.

Again, not that he sees vamperism as anything other than his current existence.

When Esque does commit some good will, mostly by condition rather than choice, he is rewarded with a full stomach to be followed by a questionably deserved slumber.

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Archie Giant Series Magazine

Archie Giant Series Magazine 228

Archie Giant Series Magazine 228

Following a formula of saccharine story telling, Riverdale’s eternal teens celebrated the 1974 Christmas season in the Archie Giant Series imprint under the subtitled Archie’s Christmas Stocking.

Always entitled Archie’s Giant Series, the first six issues, beginning in 1954, appeared under the Christmas Stocking imprint. During the run, lasting until 1992, the subtitle would shift to reflect the intent of the book.

By issue 228 Archie and the gang had moved into the 1970s. The era was signified – and simplified – in fashion and vernacular only. The stories remained rooted in their innocent origins of the 1940s. Watergate, Vietnam war and any other concerns of the day were absent short of the first story, “Brownie Points.” Even corporate greed is candy coated as Santa’s favorite elf, Jingles, is recruited to bring American pride back to the factory floor.

The rest of the 52-page book is devoted to strife such as Jughead’s tender stomach and Pop’s decision to fly south for the winter.

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Happy Holidays

Marvel’s holiday card, circa 2010.

Marvel 2010 card

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A Deadpool Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving: a time for gratuitous gluttony, family feuding and Black Friday ads clogging newspapers, any form of digital media and television.

And, Deadpool.

At least for the 2017 kick off to the holiday season.

Rather than take traditional avenues, the marketing gurus at Disney chose to take a road less traveled by the normal Deadpool demographic. To tease the then six-month off sequel to the 2016 surprise blockbuster, a Norman Rockwellesque poster was featured in the 2017 holiday issue of Good Housekeeping.

Deadpool grossed $363.1 million domestically and $783.1 million worldwide. All on an investment of $58 million. The sequel fared almost as well, grossing $734.2 million to date against the $110 budget.

His cover appearance in the venerable Hearst Corporation staple was explained in the following editorial:

“Deadpool’s persistence to be in Good Housekeeping was impressive – initially we had no idea who he was, let alone that he was a fan of the magazine,” says Jane Francisco, Editor in Chief, Good Housekeeping. “But after repeated attempts to ignore his… passion… we came to a compromise. He could appear in one issue, if he promised to stop leaving care packages at our editors’ homes and agreed to maintain a 50-foot distance from the Good Housekeeping offices and our staff.”

“After years of weekly emails and countless carrier pigeons, Good Housekeeping finally returned my calls,” says Deadpool. “And while it’s a dream come true, apparently we have vastly different opinions on the definition of a ‘holiday spread’…”

Click the “Read More” button for some of Deadpool’s Thanksgiving recipes – our apologies in advance for the bad puns and double entendres.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Cheer up, Batman.

Artwork by The-Blackcat.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Thanksgiving Marvel Comics

The latest episode of This Week in Marvel touches on two Thanksgiving themed comics, Franklin Richards: Happy Franksgiving #1 (2006) and Power Pack #19 (1984).

If you’re looking for more turkey tales, check out Marvel.com’s list of Thanksgiving reads.  Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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World’s Greatest Super-Heroes Holiday Special

Wal-Mart and DC have coupled again to produce the super-store exclusive World’s Greatest Super-Heroes Holiday Special 100-page Comic Giant.

World’s Greatest Super-Heroes Holiday Special

World’s Greatest Super-Heroes Holiday Special

As with its October counterpart, this volume kicks off the holiday season with an original story, this time featuring The Flash. Scott Lobdell and Brett Booth provide a 12-page tale told in fast fashion featuring a multitude of the Sultan of Speed’s rogue’s gallery. “Twas the Riot Before Christmas” allows the reader to ease into the book and mood.

“Metropolis Mailbag” is a re-telling from Superman (1987) issue 64. The story has all the trappings of a hackneyed holiday story, but Dan Jurgens gives readers some Christmas magic by making it work – on all levels.

“All I Want for Christmas” is pulled from the DCU Infinite Holiday special (2007). Supergirl learns Christmas spirit sometimes just means forgiveness.

“Good Boy” is the second of the real gems in this volume. Originally written and published in Batman (2016) annual one, Alfred proves even the world’s greatest detective can sometimes be blind.

Hanukah is represented in “Light in the Dark.” Batwoman finds traditions are what we make them. With a little help with from friends. This was first published in the DC Rebirth Holiday Special.

Still a marquee name, Harley Quinn’s 2015 Christmas special was ransacked for “Killin’ Time,” a New Year’s Eve nod.

Finally, “The Epiphany” showcases the Green Lantern Corps.

For all Wal-Mart’s faults, at least the company knows how to usher in a Merry Christmas. Even if they aren’t allowed to say it.

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