Archive for December, 2018

Posted Monday, December 24th, 2018 by Barry

Four Color Comics (1942) 525 (aka Santa Claus Funnies 9)

Four Color Comics (1942) 525 (aka Santa Claus Funnies 9)

Four Color Comics (1942) 525 (aka Santa Claus Funnies 9)

Dell’s Santa Claus Funnies, circa 1953, is a classic example of Christmas Comic books.

Cover to cover, the book is filled with silly short stories featuring funny animals and visitors from the North Pole. Imagine a comic book with no ads. None. Just four color frolic.

“Santa Claus and the Cuckoo Bird” open as a no-named feathered friend from the south attempts to meet the Jolly One himself. With some inside help, the little cuckoo is able to hold court with Santa and explain his wish. The bird wants to provide a service to Santa and disprove the misconception all cuckoos are dumb.

“The Kindly Cobbler” proves good deeds not only go unpunished, but they are rewarded.

“Cottontail Christmas” offers a solution to welcoming to Santa in one page.

Only one spirit haunts “The End of the Christmas Ghost.” Humphrey the mouse seeks shelter from the winter storm. During his visit he’s able to save Sir George the ghost from his years of intangibility.

Not the Christmas comic book I’m used to, but it was nice to turn back time and remember when Christmas seemed to much simpler and less commercial.

Posted Sunday, December 23rd, 2018 by Jeff

Sweet Christmas

Power Man’s favorite holiday catch-phrase. By Sanford Greene.

Sweet Christmas

Posted Saturday, December 22nd, 2018 by Jeff

Bat Hugs

For many, the holidays are all about family – including extended Bat Family.  Artwork by olybear.

Batman Family

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 Friday, December 21st, 2018 by Jeff

Holiday Harley

Holiday Harley Quinn

Posted Friday, December 21st, 2018 by Barry

Harley Quinn (2016) 55

It’s been about a year since I read Harley. Too much T&A and too little substance.

This being the Christmas season and this being a Christmas cover, I had to buy the issue. A little reluctantly. C’mon, four bucks is four bucks this time of year. Especially when I could pick up a vintage Spider-Man holiday comic book for three.

Anyway, when Paul Dini’s backups ended earlier this year, so did I.

But, it is that time of the year. The covers are great, so why not?

Not that the story is destined to be a classic, but that it really hit home.

Alert: there are spoilers contained in this review. Do not read any further if you don’t wanna know what happens.

Okay, back to our regularly scheduled break down.

It’s the holidays. More importantly it’s Christmas. Harley has decked the halls, trimmed the tree and set the stage for a memorable time with her family. A family Sam Humphries has culled from those who weren’t cast for Christmas Vacation.

After ruining Christmas dinner, Harley’s carefully trimmed Tannenbaum and generally reeking havoc on the holiday, her mother reveals she’s battling cancer.

What hits home with me is how I spent the previous weekend at a funeral for a someone very dear to me who lost her mother. Cancer was a culprit, but so were other contributing factors. It’s strange how even the fantasy parts of our lives coincide with our real lives. Our escape hatches sometimes dovetail with our reality.

For those who have lost loved ones this time of year, may God’s grace be with you. Having lost my mother almost 20 years ago to cancer, my condolences to you and yours. It does get easier and those who have gone on before us would not want us to be sad at this time of year or any other. Their memories are legacies and the laughter and lessons imparted will guide us.


Posted Thursday, December 20th, 2018 by Jeff

Deadpool’s Christmas Vacation

Deadpool lampoons a favorite holiday film.  Artwork by Marco D’Alfonso.

Deadpool's Christmas Vacation

Posted Thursday, December 20th, 2018 by Barry

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur 37

Finally, a chance to plug Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur on the site.

I did not start with issue one. Nor issue two, three, four, etc. I didn’t come on board until much later when I found a back issue bin and a sizable chunk for a buck each. The title and covers intrigued me. Plus, the minor characters don’t bow to most current crossover events, yet allow readers to keep a toe in the Marvel Universe.

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur 37

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur 37

After the first couple issues I was hooked.

With a few holes to fill, I scrambled to finish the series to its current point. Then sat down to read ‘em all again. Much like Impulse and Young Justice, they were as satisfying the second reading.

To bring the uninitiated to speed, Moon Girl is Lunella Lafayette, a nine-year old who just happens to be – purportedly – the smartest person in the Marvel Universe.

She and Devil Dinosaur, formerly of Moon Boy and Devil Dinosaur, a Jack Kirby creation from 1978, teamed and bonded courtesy of Amy Reeder, Brandon Nontclare and Natcha Bustos.

For issue 37, Lunella and Devil Dinosaur face down Frosty Jack who attempts to thwart Christmas. Yancy Street is saved – as is the rest of New York and the world – with a paraphrased “Twas the Night Before Christmas” narration and tight dialog.

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur is one of those all-ages books that actually works. On all levels. It’s affirming for children of all ages, genders and creeds. There’s a hint of Calvin and Hobbes mixed with Inspector Gadget and fisticuffs.

Posted Wednesday, December 19th, 2018 by Jeff

The Power Cosmic Christmas

Behold, Galactus, Cracker of Worlds.  Artwork by Mike del Mundo.

Galactus Cracker of Worlds

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.