Incredible Hulk 378

0

Peter David was so underrated as the Hulk’s author print runs would dip when a new artists came on board. Maybe if they had read the book, those in power would’ve known what we knew: pictures are pretty, but without a script, there’s no substance.

David, in his prime, penned issue 378 with a flashback to the Hulk’s grey days on the road with Rick Jones and celebrating the season. No review could be as clever as the issue itself, so take the plunge and invest in maybe the best Hulk v. Rhino story available, as they prove, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Clause.”

Incredible Hulk 378

Read More

DC Rebirth Holiday Special

0
DC Rebirth Holiday Special

DC Rebirth Holiday Special

DC overshadowed Marvel for 2016 when it came to Christmas specials.

Again, it’s hard to keep up with so many issues and changes as DC has survived three crises, the New 52 and now a “rebirth.” One was the return of Supeman’s son which I haven’t seen since the days of the 100-page spectaculars of the 1970s.

Damian has been around for several years. I hafta admit I was not a fan when Grant Morrison first introduced him, but have grown fond of the boy since the New 52. So, when DC gave them a touching team up with their super fathers, I didn’t have a problem.

My favorite of the whole book was the Batman-Detective Chimp team up.

Detective Chimp is my DC’s Howard the Duck; I love the character. Other than a brief resurgence of the 2007 crisis, Bobo has been an underused character. So, it was very satisfying to see him return. The rapport between him and Alfred is priceless.
My second favorite story would hafta be the Flash. Not only is there a return of his Rogues Gallery, but it’s a heartfelt bedtime story.

This is the best DC holiday special in years. Even at $10. I’ve read it cover-to-cover twice and have no complaints.

Read More

Uncanny X-Men 143

0
Uncanny X-Men 143

Uncanny X-Men 143

Uncanny X-Men 143 is the final issue of the incredible collaboration between Chris Claremont and John Byrne and a thoughtful Christmas gift to readers.

Yet it’s not a holiday issue beyond the well wishes of a Merry Christmas on the cover and the seasonal backdrop. Even the main character, Kitty Pryde, is Jewish.

What “Demon” is, is an unabashed retelling of Alien with Kitty as Ripley.

That’s not a bad thing.

Claremont even makes reference to “that movie” without mentioning any names as Kitty tries to kill N’gari originally unleashed in Uncanny X-Men 96.

Still, it’s one of my favorites and deserves a spot in any Christmas stocking.

Read More

Marvel Two-In-One 8 and 74

0
Marvel Two-In-One 8

Marvel Two-In-One 8

Marvel Two-In-One is a great title.

This is the second Marvel team up book, featuring the other ol’ blue eyes, Ben Grimm the ever lovin’ Thing. Each month Ben was teamed with a flavor of the month, normally one of Marvel’s lesser-known characters from Brother Voodoo to the Impossible Man to Quasar.

As I said, Marvel Two-In-One was a great title; just not it’s two holiday offerings.

The first homage to the happiest of holidays came early on in issue eight guest starring Ghost Rider.

This recreation of immaculate-conception for power purposes is best bought for the cover.

Marvel Two-In-One 74

Marvel Two-In-One 74

Issue 74 offers a promising beginning as the FF and Ben’s longtime girlfriend, Alicia Masters, finish their holiday shopping and ready for the annual Christmas party at the Baxter Building with friends. If the story had just been about the party, it would’ve been more interesting. This could’ve been a very touching Christmas story with Marvel’s first family and friends, but in the mid-1970s readers wanted action.

Again, buy this one for the cover and first few pages.

If you wanna read a good Marvel Two-In-One story, try issues 46, 60, 96 or annual seven. They may not be Christmas stories, but they pack more clobber.

Read More

Gwenpool Holiday Special Merry Mix-Up (2016)

0

Red Skull – a villain created to be as evil as any of his real life Nazi counterparts of World War II – receiving a lesson on political correctness is worth the price of admission. Toss in not one, but two stories featuring one of Stan Lee’s most alliterative creations, Fin Fang Foom, and the 2016 Gwenpool Holiday Special Merry Mix Up is worth double the $5.99 sticker.

If you’re not a regular reader, some of this may be confusing, but, as stated above, it’s all worth it in the long run.

It’s hard to follow every title with the increase on cover prices and the necessary evils like the electric company don’t understand the importance of comic books. Still, do a little research. I had to last year after the 2015 Gwenpool Holiday special, but it was worth it. Marvel has some great female characters headlining their own titles.

Bite the bullet and see where Marvel is going these days. But, start with this one.

Read More

Elvira’s Haunted Holidays House of Mystery Special

0
Elvira’s Haunted Holidays House of Mystery Special

Elvira’s Haunted Holidays House of Mystery Special

Elvira’s Haunted Holidays House of Mystery Special is something I stumbled over several years ago. Even if I wasn’t a collector of Christmas comic books, this would’ve been a must have.

This book hails from a time when MTV still showed videos, mullets were (almost) still in fashion and horror movies abounded – much like Elvira’s cleavage.

Reading these stories is like borrowing Bob Burn’s time machine; the reader is catapulted back to 1986 with stories designed as O’Henry’s to the times touching on the materialism of the era as well as the fear of nuclear holocaust as prophesied by the Regan Administration.

While dated, these are still fun stories seasoned with the wordily-titled “Oh, What Fun To Sing A Slaying Song Tonight” that could have jumped from the pages of EC’s stable of horror titles.

Read More

Marvel Holiday Special (1992)

0
Marvel Holiday Special (1992)

Marvel Holiday Special (1992)

As I said, the 1990s were bleak for comic books in general. One shining beacon were the early Marvel Holiday Specials.

Stan “the Man” Lee himself returned to pen the Spider-Man story, the first time since issue 200 outside of the newspaper strip. Barring Lee’s story, the star is Doc Samson’s revisionist origin of Chanukah. Even his ridiculous pony tail and post-Village People jump suit couldn’t spoil the fun.

Thanos’ touching tale of parenthood comes off as anything but contrived as do all the stories, featuring Wolverine, Punisher, New Mutants, Ironman and Daredevil.

Read More

Marvel Holiday Special (1991)

0
Marvel Holiday Special (1991)

Marvel Holiday Special (1991)

By the early 1990s the comic book industry was becoming inundated by investors. Promises of high returns for pennies on the dollar had outsiders taking a serious look at what before was considered juvenile entertainment.

Within a few years, the bubble would bust leaving us true believers wondering if the medium could continue. Thanks to some well-done animated series and successful toy lines, comic books would survive.

However, in the pre-bust days readers would have to solider on.

DC’s Crisis on Infinite Earths had provided some interesting reboots and the soon-to-be christened Vertigo franchise was holding my interest. Todd MacFarlane’s much heralded arrival on Spider-Man was not. Nor, were many of the flash in the pan titles Marvel was pumping out.

What did catch my attention, aside from Peter David’s run on The Incredible Hulk, was the return of the Holiday specials. For the first time in 15 years, Marvel decided to unleash a Christmas-themed one-shot filled with original material.

Some of the stories are almost unreadable after all this time, but a few still hold up.

Marvel chose some unlikely stories from the bankable characters at the time including the Punisher and Ghost Rider, but it’s the stalwart stables Spider-Man, Captain America and X-Men who provide the real treasures.

Of course any mutant title at the time was hot. Chris Claremont had made the outcasts unheralded successes paving – and paying – for the continued publishing onslaught that had overtaken rival DC many years past.

Scott Lobdell, unofficial Marvel historian, dusted off X-Men 98 and provided a prequel before George Lucas invented the word with “A Miracle a Few Blocks Down From 32nd Street.” The talented scribe shamelessly hinted that even the mighty Santa may be a mutant.

More subdued and predating any reference to the Winter Soldier, Captain America relearned the meaning of Christmas in “Precious Gifts.”

The final gem is the last story in the book starring Spider-Man and Jolly J. Jonah Jameson in “A Spider-Man Carol.” Danny Fingeroth did his homework for this one.

Read More

Christmas With the Super-Heroes (1988)

0
Christmas With the Super-Heroes (1988)

Christmas With the Super-Heroes (1988)

Christmas With the Super Heroes (1988) was my reintroduction to Christmas with comic books.

Even though I was recently married, I had reconciled with my first love, comic books. Seeing this John Byrne cover on a spin rack just made the return all the sweeter.

I had never completely forsaken comic books. They were always there, ready to take me back as I bought an issue of Spider-Man or X-Men to see where they had gone. When I’d left the fold – or told myself I had – I was more of a Marvel zombie. Coming back, I continued my Marvel purchasing, but this book reminded me how much I enjoyed those who I’d first pledged allegiance with when I was still in single digits. It would take A Death in the Family and Sandman to really bring me back to the DC fold.

But, this brought back memories.

Featured was Batman 219, The Silent Night of The batman, also reprinted in Christmas With the Super Heroes (C-43) in 1975. The Teen Titan’s Swingin’ Christmas Carol from Teen Titans (vol. 1) 13 appeared again, having already been reprinted in the original Christmas With the Super Heroes (C-34) in 1974 and Christmas With the Super Heroes Best of DC 22 in 1982.

The other offerings I wasn’t as familiar with, though the selection was excellent. They included Twas the Fright Before Christmas from DC Comics Presents 67, DC Special Series 21 with the Legion of Super Heroes and The Man Who Murdered Santa Claus from Justice League of America (vol. 1) 110.

To cap off this perfect storm of holiday stories was a personal note from Editor Mark Waid.  He has since lamented taking the space to tell a personal tale (see Back Issue 85), yet I found it very touching. Waid tells how he couldn’t afford to go home one year for Christmas so he strung Christmas lights on a spin rack and dug out Christmas comic books from his massive collection to help tide him over the season.

Read More

Christmas With the Super-Heroes (22)

0
Christmas With the Super-Heroes (22)

Christmas With the Super-Heroes (22)

Here was one that caught me by surprise.

Getting out of comic books when I did, I was not around for most of the DC digest format. The smaller reprints offered a lot more value, 100 pages for $.95, but also more eyestrain. Still they were fun oddities.

As with the original Christmas With the Superheroes (C-34), The Teen Titan’s Swingin’ Christmas Carol appeared, almost as ubiquities as It’s a Wonderful Life during the holiday season. It would appear yet again in the 1988 special of the same name.

Another that would be rehashed in 1988 is The Man Who Murdered Santa Clause from Justice League 110.

Those not previously exploited include Christmas Peril and Merry Christmas, both from his self-titled Batman book; Robin’s White Christmas from Batman Family 4 and The Seal Men’s War on Santa Claus, featuring Sandman, from Cancelled Comic Cavalcade 2.

Read More