Archive for the ‘Christmas Covers’ Category

Posted Tuesday, July 16th, 2019 by Barry

Evil Dead 2: Revenge of Krampus

Ash bumps into his past on Christmas Eve.

This 2016 festival of fisticuffs proves the old adage, “no good deed goes unpunished,” is true. Especially for Ash Williams.

Evil Dead 2: Revenge of Krampus

Evil Dead 2: Revenge of Krampus

Beer and softcore porn are the order of the night until Ash’s neighbor comes calling – loudly. Ash must play the hero again, but it’s his involvement that leads to a one-sided reunion.

Though he doesn’t remember, Ash has met Krampus before. Many times.

In the flavor of the season the two make nice over liquid spirits and Ash learns of his transgressions against Krampus. A peace is made though the Christmas demon does exact his revenge against his former protagonist.

Krampus is the antithesis of Santa Claus. The half goat, half demon has domain over the naughty children.

His origins were birthed in eastern European legend. The myth has seen a revival of recent, enjoying top billing in seasonal scare films.

Ash is more of a recent legend having been born from the fertile imagination of Sam Raimi. He was brought to life by Bruce Campbell in three feature films and a television series on Starz.

Posted Monday, July 1st, 2019 by Barry

Jingle Belle (2004) 4

When readers last saw Jingle, she was being extorted by Leo Gatch to turn over 40-percent of the Santaville Casino profits to him.

Picking up the action, Jingle goes to war with Gatch. Not only does the gangster own most of Lake Tahoe, but controls pretty much all of the services needed to maintain a resort.

Jingle Belle (2004) 4

Jingle Belle (2004) 4

Jingle is not intimidated. Rather she ups the ante. Entertainment is imported. Food is found. Most importantly, Gatch’s machines are rigged to pay out. Pay out big.

As Gatch crumbles, so does the resolve of Bud Coleman, park manager. Santaville is no longer a fun land for the kiddies and he misses the old days. Jingle is thrown under the bus by Coleman who calls Santa lamenting the loss of the former theme park’s innocence.

To add insult to injury, Jingle is retained to help as the park reopens and gets back on its feet.

The whole issue is hilarious. Paul Dini directs the dialog with precision. Each character is fleshed out in a mere 20-some pages and the jokes are prevalent. This is a series that must be read.

Posted Wednesday, June 26th, 2019 by Barry

Jingle Belle (2004) 3

Jingle takes a down-on-its-luck tourist stop and turns it into a money maker.

Father Christmas, also father of Jingle, sends his little girl out, into the world to help some old friends. Bud and Vera Coleman have been keeping the faith since 1962. Santaville is a side-of-the-road tourist spot not seen in decades. The quaint curiosity has outlived its usefulness, but Santa still wants to see it survive.

Jingle Belle (2004) 3

Jingle Belle (2004) 3

Jingle is to investigate and offer her input. After a quick tour she decides the best way to keep up with the times is to turn the tourist trap into a money pit for anyone hoping to get rich quick.

Without her father’s knowledge, Jingle transforms the tourist stop to a gambling mecca. Her efforts are rewarded exponentially as profits pile up. The untold treasures do not go unnoticed and not by her father, but a more sinister presence.

While the first two issues were self-contained, this is the first of a two-part story. Needless to say, author and creator Paul Dini leaves readers hanging at a most inopportune time for Jingle or themselves.

Posted Monday, June 24th, 2019 by Barry

Jingle Belle (2004) 2

“Belle’s Beaus” explores the impact Jingle has made on people over the years.

Investigative writer Peter Smith chases a memory from his youth in an attempt to discover the validity of the remembrance. Throughout the story Smith solicits the stories of others with like experiences. All have a similar feel, but each is as elusive as his recollection. Each is grounded in salvation, but as tangible as a wisp of smoke.

When Smith finally confronts his conundrum, he’s still unsure. He decides the matter comes down to faith and leaves it at that.

The second story, “Kiyote Christmas Party,” is a bit more anthropomorphized as Christmas Eve becomes a raucous round up at the local watering hole. The girls show they can take care of their own with the seasonal spirit still provided.

Jingle Belle (2004) 2

Posted Friday, June 7th, 2019 by Barry

Jingle Belle (2004) 1

Jingle Belle (2004) 1

Jingle Belle (2004) 1

Jingle Belle attacks the skeptics who say she doesn’t exist.

To do so, she decides on a Christmas special. In the style of the Rankin/Bass stop-motion puppet spectaculars of old. The network likes the idea of a special; just not her vision.

Paul Dini destroys demographics with his version of a seasonal special. He raids the Rankin/Bass treasure trope for the villains while giving George Lucas a sly nod.

“A Very Special Jingle Belle Special” is worth the price of the book alone, but Dini tosses in a follow up that teaches the greedy a lesson.

“Nibble, Nibble” introduces Polly Green, a self-styled suburban witch. Jingle Belle makes a guest appearance to help the youthful witch with family trouble.

Stephanie Gladden takes a page from Phil Folio with her illustrations.

Posted Tuesday, June 4th, 2019 by Barry

Punisher Holiday Special (1993) 3

Punisher Holiday Special (1993) 3

Punisher Holiday Special (1993) 3

Frank Castle’s third and final holiday special hit comic book shops just in time for the 1994 Christmas season.

“Cold Land” and “X-Mas Stalkings” are buffeted by the “Punisher’s Arsenal” and “Punisher War Journal Equipment” pages. Charles Dixon and Dale Eaglesham relate the first story while Mike Lackey and Phil Gosier bat cleanup.

“Cold Land” takes no prisoners as the Punisher attempts to save a boy from the sins of his father.

“X-Mas Stalkings” shows a more psychological thriller side to the book. Charles Quinn has found a fixation at random. His fetish has led to a fantasy life that ruins everyone else’s. When the confrontation comes, Quinn dies for a misunderstanding he created.

Of the three holiday specials, this is the best. A strong finish to 1990s vigilantism.

Posted Saturday, June 1st, 2019 by Barry

Giant Days Where Women Glow and Men Plunder

A holiday in Australia for the holidays.

Not much here Christmas wise. A decked out tree and some other imagery, but the main thrust of the book is a young man visiting his girlfriend and (barely) surviving a week with her family.

Giant Days Where Women Glow and Men Plunder

Giant Days Where Women Glow and Men Plunder

Ed Gemmel is the victim in this story. A victim of his own hormones and the wilds of Australia. Nina Archer is the object of his affections. Those intentions are tested by her father, brother and rival boys from the next town over.

During his stay Ed must prove his manhood to impress the cast. He finally does as intelligence triumphs over sheer muscle.

I thought long and hard about including this. As mentioned earlier the holidays are just an excuse for the vacation.

The meat of the story is in the interaction with the supporting cast.

Still, I read the book and rather than waste the time spent with an Englishman in a strange land, I thought I’d include it anyway. Take what you want from the review, such as it is, but pick the book up and read it to decide for yourself.

Posted Thursday, May 30th, 2019 by Barry

Grimm Tales of Terror 2016 Holiday Special

“Dinner Party” gift wraps the four terror tales it encompasses in a neat bow with a horror hostess to map the way.

Billy still believes in “Mall Santa.” His sister doesn’t. Not in Santa at least. Her belief proves prophetic when a psycho Santa tries to steel more than Christmas from Billy’s family.

The Pennsylvanian tradition of “Pollyanna” has all the women wanting “new office guy” Ken’s gift. Scary Gary is the real Secret Santa and the giver of a more precious present.

Playing sick to avoid school is common practice. When Kevin does it to jumpstart the holiday vacation, “Sick Day” becomes more than a way to sneak a peek at presents. What Kevin finds is his future.

Finally, “Mr. Mendelsohn” is a modern day Scrooge. However he’s stingiest with his affections – normally. When an object of his unwanted attention becomes the ghost of Christmas Past, the season is over.

Tales of Terror closes 2016 with a seasonal salutations.


Posted Saturday, May 25th, 2019 by Barry

Jingle Belle (1999) 2

Jingle Belle (1999) 2

Jingle Belle (1999) 2

Paul Dini and Stephen DeStefano wrap up the two-issue mini with “Santa’s Little Hellion.”

When we left Jingle Belle at the end of issue one, she had released the wrath of the Blizzard Wizard after disobeying her father, Santa Claus. The good intentions of faux elf and newfound friend, Andy, allow Jingle to return to North Pole headquarters, but the damage is done.

To thwart the Bliz Wiz again, Jingle retreads old ground seeking aid from those who helped Santa before. Between a contest to prove herself and unexpected help from a suicidal source Christmas is saved.

Jingle raises her will in defiance one last time to help Andy. The good deed does go unpunished, but not unnoticed.

She is allowed a place by her father’s side on the most generous of all nights.

Another homerun from Dini and Destafano. Y2K could never have dampened the spirit released from the two issues as the duo close out the old millennium with fun and flare.

Posted Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019 by Barry

Jingle Belle (1999) 1

“Long, long ago…” so the story begins, the good northern elves became the Blizzard Wizard’s entertainment. When the elves even gooder Queen Mirabelle sought their freedom she too was captured.

As with all good fairy tales the queen was rescued. Rescued by a saint: Santa Claus. Her hero rode forth and banished the evil and vile wizard to his icy caverns while forcing him to relinquish his power.

In a show of appreciation the elves vowed their allegiance to Santa and his mission to bring happiness to children the world over. Santa and the queen fell in love and were married.

And, they lived happily ever after.

Jingle Belle (1999) 1

Jingle Belle (1999) 1

At least until Santa couldn’t keep his pants up any longer and Queen Mirabelle bore him a daughter. One they spoiled with the best presents.

“Miserable on 34th Street” is the rest of the story. One in which their daughter, Jingle Belle, seeks a way back into her father’s good graces. Be it through deceit, granted, but still a chance to climb from under the mountain of coal she receives every Christmas Eve.

Through misunderstanding and indifference Jingle reunites the cold czar of chaos with is power source again and earns the hatred of children everywhere.

To be continued…

Paul Dini serves up the frozen fare with Stephen DeStefano illustrating the icy tale. Pin ups are served by Jill Thompson and Sergio Aragones.