Posts Tagged ‘Spider-Man’

Posted Thursday, February 7th, 2019 by Barry

Marvel Treasury Special (1974)

DC beat Marvel to the holiday punch with the first of the Christmas specials beginning in 1974.

The Marvel Treasury Special was released Nov. 26 of that year on the heels of DC’s Limited Collector’s Edition (C-34) that hit newsstands Nov. 7.

Whereas DC had decades of material to draw from, Marvel had a little over 10-years worth of stories to plumb.

Naturally “Have Yourself a Sandman Little Christmas!” led the list.

It was a reprint from Marvel Team-Up issue one starring Spider-Man and the Human Torch battling Sandman. A sappy story that brought out the season in both heroes who allowed Sandman to visit his mother on Christmas Eve.  The good deed does not go unpunished leading both heroes to a continuation of the story in issue two.

The remainder of the book is what the title promised:  a grab-bag.

Marvel Treasury Special (1974)

Marvel Treasury Special (1974)

In “Mortal Combat with…Sub-Mariner” is reprinted from Daredevil issue seven. Namor makes land fall to seek out Matt Murdock to serve as his lawyer. The sea prince wishes to sue the surface world for its exploitation of the other three quarters of the Earth.  Murdock’s alter ego is called upon when he refuses to take the case.

Black Widow stars in the next story taken from Amazing Adventures (1970) issue five. An unremarkable story. Maybe the most noteworthy of the book is Neal Adam’s assumption of penciling chores on the Inhuman’s story.

Fantastic Four issues 25 and 26, a two-part tale, finish out the book. The Thing and Hulk go toe-to-toe in issue 25 with the Avengers guest starring in the second part.

Far from the holiday specials to come in the 1990s, but at least setting a precedence for the company.

Posted Thursday, December 27th, 2018 by Barry

Marvel Team-Up (1972) 79

Finally, some down time devoted to catching up on hauls from the year past.

Pulling from a box of unread issues, I decided to finish what Marvel Team-Up books I’d picked up. As most any collector of any length of time can tell the uninitiated, you tend to give, buy and trade/sell books on a regular basis. Spider-Man titles are no exception.

Marvel Team-Up (1972) 79

Marvel Team-Up (1972) 79

I know I’ve owned issue 79 before. I know I’ve read it before. But, when I cracked the cover and started, I was pleasantly surprised to find this is a Christmas comic book.

Of sorts.

The story takes place Dec. 22, 1978. Chris Claremont is very specific on that. The date is front and center in the opening dialog box. The snow is falling across New York, evening a backdrop as the moon shies behind thick stratus clouds. No colored lights lift the night’s burden. The first few pages are exercises in a Glynis Wein blue period.

Having set the mood, in prose and color, a young John Byrne pencils Spider-Man swinging to the Daily Bugle for the annual Christmas party. A quick change to Peter Parker and the titular character is greeted by Mary Jane and mistletoe.

What romance she wished to rekindle is squashed as Peter is ushered out the door on assignment to cover strange doings up town.

As promised on the cover, Red Sonja guest stars with Spidey making for an odd pairing. Still, the story works. And, as any red blooded American boy from the 1970s can vouch, when you found an appearance of Red Sonja on the spin racks, it was a good week.

Claremont and Byrne, already a team on The Uncanny X-Men, wrap the story up in the industry standard 17 pages leaving the reader fulfilled and satisfied their 40 cents didn’t go to waste.

Posted Monday, December 24th, 2018 by Jeff

Peace on Earth…

Settling into Christmas Eve with Marvel Team-Up (1972) #1. Pencils by Ross Andru and inks by Mike Esposito.

Peace on Earth

Posted Saturday, December 22nd, 2018 by Barry

Marvel Treasury Edition 13

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.

Marvel Treasury Edition 13

Marvel Treasury Edition 13

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.

Posted Wednesday, December 19th, 2018 by Barry

Marvel Treasury Edition 8 (1975)

Marvel’s Giant Superhero Holiday Grab Bag hit newsstands Nov. 25, 1975 on the heels of DC’s Limited Edition (C-43) Christmas With the Super-Heroes.

This second tabloid-sized special featured a collection of already told tales from the Bullpen’s fertile imagination. Having mined the few holiday stories the House of Ideas had floating around the previous year, this second book proved more Christmas in cover and theme than interior stories.

Marvel Treasury Edition 8 (1975)

Nick Fury opens the book with “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” taken from Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. issue 10 published in 1969. Nick’s night with surprise guest Laura is interrupted by a call to save the free world from the Hate Monger. Any seasonal spirit is forgotten as Fury does his best 007 impression to foil world domination. He’s rewarded for his efforts with his blond bombshell waiting for him at his apartment to watch the sun rise on Christmas morning.

There’s as much holiday spirt in the story “Spider-Man Goes Mad!” as there is in the name. Pulled from Amazing Spider-Man issue 24, the reprint marks the first time the story saw print since it was originally published.

“Jingle Bombs” uses a snowy backdrop and a few Christmas decorations to give the impression of the holidays for Luke Cage.

An abbreviated reprint of Incredible Hulk 147 is next. Entitled “Heaven is a Very Small Place,” the Hulk believes in a mirage where even he is accepted.

Dr. Strange battles Nightmare on New Year’s Eve in “Eternity, Eternity” reprinted from Dr. Strange 180.

Posted Monday, December 17th, 2018 by Barry

Marvel Holiday Special 2011

Marvel Holiday Special 2011

Marvel Holiday Special 2011

Marvel dusted off previously released material offered through Comixology in digital format for the 2011 Christmas Special offering a mixed bag of holiday cheer.

Spider-Man stars in “Cold Hearted Christmas.” Family is missed the most when gone from the holidays. Justice and compassion do work in unison, though.

“Logan’s Lost Lesson” is pretty much what the title suggests. Wolverine doffs his work clothes to teach hockey and a lesson to the naughty at Xavier’s School for Gifted Students.

“Ol’ Saint Nick” is Nick Fury handing out a Christmas pummeling to the agents of Hydra while on an important mission to show a man his future.

“Chinese Food for Christmas” has a meeting of the non-Gentiles of the Marvel Universe. Together they prove there’s more than one way to celebrate Christmas.

Posted Friday, December 14th, 2018 by Jeff

You Great Big Shiny Apple You

Spider-Man espouses some New York Christmas Spirit in this festively trimmed Amazing Spider-Man #166 panel.  Pencils by Ross Andru with inks by Mike Esposito.

Amazing Spider-Man 166 panel

Posted Thursday, December 13th, 2018 by Barry

Marvel Holiday Special 2006

Three stories and a two-page Fred Hembeck spread pulled from Marvel Age 25 make up the 2006 holiday special.

Marvel Holiday Special 2006

Marvel Holiday Special 2006

“A Piece of Cake” opens the Christmas book in strong fashion.  Spider-Man and Wolverine combine forces for a memorable team-up.  Peter Parker attempts to keep his appointment at Aunt May’s annual Christmas party and provide dessert.

While everyone else is reveling in the seasonal spirit Wolverine is bah-humbugging his way through the sewers of New York in search of a rogue sentinel.  Finding the man-made colossus is easy; stopping the stripped down, ramped up Santa-nel is harder.

Donning his union suit, Spidey aids his north-of-the-border born neighbor in shutting down a discount store Santa’s evil machinations to exact revenge on a perceived slight.

Hembeck dresses up some Marvel mainstays for the season followed by a confusing tale entitled “Secret Santa.”  It appears the Runaways are gathered for the holidays making amends with each other.  Unless a reader of the title and time, there’s no context for what happens.

“The Meaning of Christmas” is tossed in foreshadowing major Marvel events to occur.

Not a bad offering, but the momentum promised in “A Piece of Cake” dies with the headlining story.

Posted Tuesday, December 11th, 2018 by Barry

Marvel Holiday Special 1995 TPB

Riding high on the speculator market soon to go bust – the company would file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy a year later – Marvel released its 1995 Holiday Special trade paperback.

Flagship character Spider-Man carried the book with three stories beginning with “A Spider-Man Christmas Carol.” The Web Head saves a hospital ward full of sick children with a little help from Daily Bugle Publisher J. Jonah Jameson.

“A Miracle a Few Blocks down from 34th Street” showcases the X-Men in the oft reprinted Christmas tale outing Santa as the world’s most powerful mutant.

Spider-Man returns in another seasonal fan favorite, “Down and Out in Forest Hills.” The story is miss-billed as “Star Of the Show” that appears later in the book.

Marvel Holiday Special 1995 TPB

Marvel Holiday Special 1995 TPB

“Down and Out” features Peter and Mary Jane as they are ousted from their condominium on Christmas Eve. Uncle Ben is the Ghost of Christmas Past who provides wisdom in Peter’s decision to return to his roots. The story originally appeared in Amazing Spider-Man 314.

“Zounds of Silence” is a textless tale featuring Wolverine – of sorts – in an imaginative dream of consumerism during the holidays.

“Hopes and Fears” sees the return of Spider-Man in a test of faith against Mephisto.

“Free Will” is lifted from Peter David’s run on The Incredible Hulk. Banner Hulk questions the holidays and choices.

“Star of the Show” finally appears as a one-page, textless story with the jolly, fat one making a guest appearance.

The Punisher is shoehorned into the book with customary bullets flying and body count in “The Spirit of the Season.”

Finally, “The Big X-Mas Black Out” brings Spidey back for an encore appearance as he dukes it out with Electro using Rockefeller Square as a backdrop.

Slap an $8.95 price tag on the title and Marvel made itself and readers a little merrier in ’95.

Posted Monday, December 3rd, 2018 by Barry

Marvel Holiday Special 1996

Marvel Holiday Special 1996

Marvel Holiday Special 1996

Not since Amazing Spider-Man 192 has there been as entertaining a face-off between J. Jonah Jameson and Spidey. “Not a Creature Was Stirring” is refreshing, fun and Mark Waid at his story-telling best teasing the title characters and readers.

Jonah’s greed backfires while attempting to publicize his philanthropy. The end result has JJJ and Spidey pinned beneath warehouse roof rubble as snow mounds about their fast freezing bodies. Nothing ever ends well for the Bugle publisher and this story is no exception. Jonah’s pride falls victim after deciding to do what’s right.

“Unto Others” focuses on Kitty Pryde, her Jewish heritage and mutant birth rite. Hatred and ignorance form a common bond between Kitty and a young girl who only wishes to see her father’s face again. The history of Hanukah is tossed in for good measure.

Silver Surfer stars in “Hark! The Herald!” Galactus’ former minion faces a paradox only faith can solve.

“Ambush at Angle Rock” shakes the trail dust off the Rawhide Kid character for a western holiday and the only weak spot in the special.

Wolverine rounds out the book with “Humbug.” A walk around town and head full of thoughts brings little comfort to Logan at this time of year – though he wishes the spirit could touch him.