As America packed away its bicentennial banners and fervor, Marvel began packaging its third, and final, Holiday Grab-Bag. And, that’s what it was, a holiday-less hodge podge of reprints pulled from Avengers (1963) issue 58, Daredevil (1964) number 86, Marvel Team-Up 6 and Tales to Astonish (1959) 93.
Roger Stern was a lowly assistant editor in charge of choosing reprint material for Marvel’s stable of twice-told-tale books. He was tasked to fill the last of the holiday specials with suitable material. Having already used what little was available the previous two years, Stern was faced with a daunting task.
As Stern told Back Issue magazine, issue 85, Christmas in the Bronze Age, from 2015; he pulled the most tear jerking stories he could find to fill the book. Choices made, he found the book was still 10 pages short. Stern approached Editor Archie Goodwin who freed money for what Stern termed a “framing sequence” for the stories.
Fanboys were given the Giant Superhero Holiday Grab-Bag Nov. 16, 1976, complete with a Gil Kane/Joe Sinnott cover featuring the Marvel mainstays. Stern penned the opening story, “Tis the Season,” showcasing the super heroes playing in the snow. Reprints included “…As Those Who Will Not See!” with Spider-Man and the Thing, “Even an Android Can Cry” featuring the Avengers, Hulk and Silver Surfer shared “He Who Strikes the Silver Surfer” and “Once Upon a Time – The Ox!” showcasing Daredevil and Black Widow.
This was the final Marvel holiday special until the 1990s. By then the House of Ideas would have a better catalog to choose from, even tossing in original material.
For me, nothing will ever beat the original specials from the 1970s. They were the perfect size to lie stomach down on the floor and marvel – pun intended – at the craftsmanship of those earlier Marvel Age stories.