Archive for the ‘Holiday Specials’ Category

Posted Monday, August 19th, 2019 by Barry

Punisher Holiday Special (1993) 1

Steven Grant and Eric Fein take the Punisher down two very, un-Merry Christmas trails.

“Red Christmas” is the quest to bring Little Tony Caruso what he wants for Christmas. What he wants is the Punisher’s head in return for the death of his father.

Pleasant Valley Mall becomes the battleground.

Punisher Holiday Special (1993) 1

Punisher Holiday Special (1993) 1

It’s interesting to turn the clock back. Look at the backdrop with the drapings of 1993. At this writing, that was about 25 years ago. A time when compact discs still housed our music. Cordless telephones were high tech. Malls were still in vogue.

Maybe the best of the flashbacks was Stan’s Soapbox. Even after several months it’s hard to believe the man who raised so many of us has passed. It’s nice to know he’ll never be completely gone.

No seasonal glad tidings from The Man. No, Stan was at his best when huckstering. He was laying it on with a shovel in this issue. Marvel had conquered the United Kingdom and Stan wanted the Marvel Zombies in the colonies to know they could have a piece – for a nominal fee of course.

Rounding out the book, the body count drops in “Armed Salvation.” The Punisher teaches a little boy family is the more important than any petty grievances.

Posted Tuesday, July 23rd, 2019 by Barry

Jingle Belle: The Fight Before Christmas

This 2005 one-shot is made up of three acts: the title, “Hot Rod Lemming” and “Oh, Christmas Tree.”

In “The Fight Before Christmas” Jingle heads up the North Pole Elves against long-time Bi-Polar Hockey League rivals Tibetan Snow Leopards. Jingle’s rivalry is with Tashi Ounce, team captain of the Leopards.

Jingle Belle: The Fight Before Christmas

Jingle Belle: The Fight Before Christmas

The two spend more time in the penalty box making small talk than on the ice scoring. That all ends when two-timing boyfriend Brad is found to be making time with a third opponent.

In the second story, Jingle gives Len the Lemming advice only to learn it doesn’t work both ways in “Hot Rod Lemming.”

Finally, creator Paul Dini serves up a none-to-flattering commentary on the second Bush Administration.

Belle is the spoiled teenage daughter of Santa Claus. She was created by Dini in 1999. Since then her appearances have been sporadic at best. Jingle has been corralled in five collected editions:  Jingle Belle: Naughty and Nice, Jingle Belle’s Cool Yule, Jingle Belle: Dash Away All, Jingle Belle and Jingle Belle: The Whole Package.

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 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.