Archive for the ‘Christmas Covers’ Category

Posted Sunday, November 15th, 2020 by Barry

The Smurfs Christmas (2013) 1

The Belgian-born franchise offers fans six stories to yule tide them till the big day.

The Smurfs Christmas (2013) 1

The Smurfs Christmas (2013) 1

Little Peter’s Christmas is a cliched tear jerker truism with the usual heroes and villains. Santa is under the weather. Gargamel takes advantage to find the Smurf’s village, but is discouraged when St. Nick bounces back.

Peter and his mother are rewarded for their poverty and observance of hard work by Santa and the Smurfs by story’s end.

The Ogre and the Smurfs has nothing to do with Christmas. For this tale, Gargamel throws the Smurfs under the bus so as not to be eaten by the giant. Fortunately for the blue woodland creatures, Ogres aren’t very bright and the table is turned on their antagonist.

A sacrifice puts Gargamel on ice in Strange Snowmen. It’s a tale of warmth, both from the heart and the sky.

The Smurfs disturb nature in Hibernatus Smurfimus. Snow blankets the woods as those who slumber through the winter sleep in oblivion. That is until a few Smurfs wake the dozing denizens. Their interruption does pay off when they escape the clutches of those who try to capture them.

Monsters and legends are undone in The Little Tree. Gargamel has turned a ferry into a tree. Her sister must procure the golden pinecones that fall in a far-off land. Lumberjack Smurf helps along the way and Gargamel’s villainy is repaid in repossession.

This does have Christmas undertones for those who are counting.

Gargamel finds the satisfaction in giving rather than receiving. The Smurfs still come out on top in The Smurfs Christmas.

The Smurfs began as a comic book before branching to television and merchandising. Their first appearance was in Johan et Pirlouit in 1958. English translations have been published in the America courtesy of Papercutz. Marvel Comics provided a mini-series in the 1980s.

Posted Tuesday, November 10th, 2020 by Barry

X-Men (1991) 165

Hark How the Bells–! marks the end of the year and the end of an era as Chris Claremont departs the title.

Again.

X-Men (1991) 165

X-Men (1991) 165

X-23’s transgression in the beginning is forgiven by books end. Between, Claremont ties up a few loose ends and tantalizes what may come. All is witnessed by Xavier and Magneto who see the festivities of promises made and kept.

The X-Men were maybe the least of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s creations at the beginning of the Marvel Universe. By issue 67 the title was limping along with reprints of earlier exploits.

Not until Giant-Size X-Men (1975) one, by Len Wein and Dave Cockrum, did the book publish new material. Claremont took over writing chores with issue 94, picking up where the original series left off.

As the second coming picked up speed, Claremont would expand the mutant universe with titles like The New Mutants and Excalibur. In 1991 he and Jim Lee teamed for the adjective less X-Men which remains the best-selling comic book of all time.

Claremont would leave shortly after.

He later returned to helm the Fantastic Four. The X-Men beckoned as well and he would return in 2004.

The X-books continue to be mega sellers. With or without Claremont, but it is he who pioneered the popularity.

Posted Saturday, November 7th, 2020 by Barry

Archie Christmas Spectacular (2020) 1

Here’s a tradition often overlooked, the Archie Christmas Spectacular.

Wreath Wrath is a vehicle for Mr. Weatherbee who has an attack of conscience as a colossal Santa haunts his decision to ban Christmas from school. Of course, it’s Archie who sends up the warning to the aging administrator.

Holi-Dazed has Archie remembering – too late – a promise made a year earlier. The pubescent Romeo finds himself with two dates for the holiday dance. His first is sweet on him, but sours when the spirit of Christmas comes between them.

Betty and Veronica team for the Best Holiday Cookie contest in Kookie Contest. As guessed, the team-up fails and Jughead steals the show with his simple recipe.

Santa Sleighed has the big guy stranded at the Lodge’s. Veronica’s social media faux paus leads to a Christmas Eve of karaoke.

This continues the updated spectaculars restarted in 2016.

Archie Christmas Spectacular (2020) 1

Posted Thursday, November 5th, 2020 by Barry

Hot Wheels (1970) 6

Neal Adams penciled the sixth and final issue of Hot Wheels as the short-lived, licensed-title celebrated the holidays with an assassination plot against the prince of Kalvania.

Hot Wheels (1970) 6

Hot Wheels (1970) 6

Prince Timothy, first heir to the throne of the postage-stamp country, was on a good-will tour of the United States. The conniving Duke of Ebenezar took the opportunity to rid himself of competition while the king lay on his death bed.

Fortunately, for the prince, he stumbles in the path of the Hot Wheels gang. A life-and-death slalom saves Timothy and the villains are deposed.

All’s well that ends well in the Humbug Run as the king recovers and the prince is sent on his way. The Hot Wheels gang celebrate Christmas and readers are reminded the reason for the season is Peace on Earth.

Adams does not handle penciling chores on the second story, Super Chick.

Also, included is a one-page bio on the Mighty Midget: K3 Magnette.

The book closes with an in-house advertisement previewing the coming changes to the Superman titles.

Mattel began manufacturing the modified hot rods – aka Hot Wheels – in 1968. The brand proved to be a huge success. The initial line up has become known as the Sweet 16.

Posted Saturday, September 26th, 2020 by Barry

X-Factor (1986) 27

Gifts is just that, a gift from Louise and Walter Simonson.

X-Factor (1986) 27

X-Factor (1986) 27

X-Factor – and the mutant population of the Marvel U – are at a crossroads. The X-books are poised to dominate the comic book market. Already they are more popular than flagship titles like the Fantastic Four or Spider-Man.

X-Factor 27 is a lull before the deluge of mutant kind on evereything Marvel. Apocalypse and his four horsemen have been beaten. The X-Men are dead – supposedly. It’s Christmas Eve.

The aftermath of the previous battle is assessed. Many homes have been destroyed and people hospitalized. X-Factor and their mutant charges are no strangers to the bigotry shown them, but neither are they heartless enough to ignore the plight of others.

A majority of New Yorkers are grateful enough to show their appreciation for X-Factor’s sacrifices. A tree and presents flood their new home. But the children understand it is the season of giving and wish to return the bounty to others more needful than themselves.

The story not only offers a transition from one story arc to another, but allows readers a chance to focus on Christmas with the characters. Some of the background stories bleed through, but can be ignored to enjoy a holiday tale.

X-Factor itself began in 1986 with the reunited original X-Men: Angel, Beast, Cyclops, Jean Grey and Ice Man.

Angel, Beast and Ice Men were members of the Defenders when X-Factor launched. The other title was due to be canceled allowing them to return to their original fold.

Their beard against mutant bigotry is to become mutant hunters. The plan is “capture” mutants and teach them how to use their powers. Much like Professor Charles Xavier when he first formed the X-Men.

The title is currently in its fourth incarnation, having launched this year as part of Dawn of X.

Posted Friday, September 18th, 2020 by Barry

Hazel & ChaCha Save Christmas (2019) 1

The days are shortening and Christmas is beginning to peek around the discounted summer items. If the hands of time could be turned back, the Sears Wish Book would be on its way.

So, it’s not too early to begin thinking about Christmas. Shopping has already started. It’s the only way to include everyone on your list without resorting to selling organs.

The ambassadors today are Hazel and ChaCha, two hitmen from the Temps Aeternalis. Their mission is to kill a specified number of Umbrella Academy members, 00.05, but aren’t picky about collateral damage.

In this special, they are commissioned to track down a rogue time agent and cross paths with a plot to discredit Christmas.

With no background on the pair or situation, I cannot honestly give an opinion of the book. To me, it was confusing, jumping between the title characters and the guest stars. Neither seemed to mesh in any sort of storytelling fashion.

Even when the explosions settled, I wasn’t sure what had happened.

The two are supposed to be Netflix favs. Again, I know nothing about that. There’s not even a Wikipedia entry on the two. How famous can they be?

If a fan, try it out. If not, do some research first.

Posted Sunday, August 16th, 2020 by Barry

Jingle Belle Gift Wrapped (2011)

This 2011 offering is courtesy of Belle creator Paul Dini with artistic aid from Stephanie Gladden.

Uncle Krampus is called to settle a family dispute. His judgement endangers Christmas until Jingle can prove her point.

Kringle and Krampus is a nice look at the relationship between the two titular characters. It proves even Santa can be wrong at times.

Also included are two one-page funnies, Slapshot and First Date.

Slapshot is a return to the ice and the release of some unwanted guests, or pests.

First Date allows Jingle to grow, but at her and her father’s pace.

Finally, Dini and Misty Lee collaborate for Polly Green in Hocus-Croakus. A little product placement is in order for Polly’s indiscretion to be undone.

An early Happy Holidays from the dysfunctional first family of Christmas.

Jingle Belle Gift Wrapped (2011)

Posted Monday, July 27th, 2020 by Barry

The Tick Big Red-N-Green Christmas Spectacle (2001) 1

Memories stretch long in this holiday tale of regret and revenge called ‘Rootin’ Tootin’ Christmas.’

The Tick Big Red-N-Green Christmas Spectacle (2001) 1

The Tick Big Red-N-Green Christmas Spectacle (2001) 1

The City needs a hero to save the season. One more powerful than the Tick. He and Arthur call up a saddle-sore trailblazer to handle the holiday hijacking. In typical Tick fashion, the day is saved as the new millennium takes hold.

Ben Edlund’s creation has peeked around the periphery of comic book fame for three decades.

Not quite an overnight sensation, the Tick did earn a spot in Fox’s Saturday morning line up in 1994. His cry of, “Spoon!” could be heard for two seasons. In 2001 he was given a live-action series on Fox starring Patrick Warburton.

It died after one season.

Amazon Video saw merit in the hero and green lit another live-action, web-TV series in 2016. It ended after two seasons.

But, the big, blue boob has never lacked for holiday specials. His first was in 1997 in Tick’s Big Yule Log Special. The sequel came in 1999 and a third installment in 2000. A fourth Yule Log Special was released in 2001 followed by the Big Red-N-Green Christmas Spectacle and the Tick Big X-Mas Trilogy released Dec. 1 through 3, 2002.

Posted Monday, July 20th, 2020 by Barry

Sgt. Rock (1977) 350

Before Sgt. Rock was relegated to seasonal stories and minis, he was the Top Kick of Easy Co. from 1959 to 1988.

During his time in service to his country, Frank Rock served from the shores of Italy across the Rhine and into the heart of the Fatherland. All the while shepherded by creator and chief scribe Robert Kanigher.

Sgt. Rock (1977) 350

Sgt. Rock (1977) 350

Having survived the backlash from the Viet Nam conflict, Rock was moved from Our Army at War to his own title in 1977. He would continue through most of the 1980s to issue 422 only to fall victim to Crisis on Infinite Earths.

But, for the winter of 1980, Rock and Easy were on the front lines in ‘Home for Christmas.’

A missing G.I. takes the sergeant from his men during the holiday season. Most of the story is spent with Rock recounting his interaction with the AWOL soldier.

The missing man’s mantra throughout the war was to be “home for Christmas”. With the holiday fast approaching, Rock fears the wayward private has left the war early to be back with his family.

What he finds is a heartwarming sight that turns heart wrenching. However, in true DC war fashion both soldier and Easy are saved by story’s end.

The book is rounded out with a two-page Battle Album focusing on types of gases. Also included are stories ‘The Last Knight,’ ‘Roman Nose’ and ‘The Men of Easy Co.: Right Arm.’

Following his regular-series run, Rock returned for cameos and seasonal one-and-dones. He was also featured in a 21-issue run of reprints and two specials.

Posted Tuesday, July 14th, 2020 by Barry

The Ren & Stimpy Show Holiday Special, Yah Lousy Bums! (1994)

Mr. Yak channel surfs to the cadence of a twisted ‘‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’ in this holiday hoot that parodies cable television of the 1990s holiday season.

A stop on ‘The Muddy Mudskipper Christmas Show’ offers a musical that merges with an advertisement, merges with his neighbors, Ren Hoek and Stimpson J. Cat, arguing about commercialism, ad nauseum.

The Ren & Stimpy Show Holiday Special, Yah Lousy Bums! (1994)

The Ren & Stimpy Show Holiday Special, Yah Lousy Bums! (1994)

Ren and Stimpy’s ‘Yule Time Log’ interlude is a send up – of sorts – of ‘The Gift of the Magi.’ If there is a lesson to be learned, it’s not forthcoming.

Back to Mr. Yak and more of the Muddy Mudskipper Christmas extravaganza followed by flipping through the late-night show, more commercials, trash-talk TV and a surreal look at the Ren and Stimpy Show.

Airing is ‘Black Mail, White Christmas, Green Moulah,’ a dark tale of Ren stealing Santa’s surveillance equipment and using it for evil. It ends with more channel surfing and the ugliest “snowman” conceived.

Dan Slott does a fine job of recreating the madness normally animated on television, but the special is disjointed. The flow would have been smoother had it been a television special.

The Ren and Stimpy Show debuted on Nickelodeon in 1991. Creator John Kricfalusi only lasted one year with the series, but the show ran until Dec. 16, 1995 airing 52 episodes.