Archive for the ‘Holiday Specials’ Category

Posted Friday, December 23rd, 2022 by Barry

Spider-Man, Fire-Star and Iceman at the Dallas Ballet Nutcracker (1983)

Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends was in its third and final season when Marvel and the Dallas Times Herald teamed again for this mash up of Texas transgression.

Peter Parker and Bobby Drake have accompanied their soon-to-be former team mate, Angelica Jones, to her new home in Dallas, Texas.

While there, the trio decide to take in the Nutcracker as performed by the Dallas Ballet. Peter’s Spidey sense jangles as the three stand outside the theater. Investigating, they soon discover the nefarious plot to disrupt the performance by stealing the props.

Spider-Man, Fire-Star and Iceman at the Dallas Ballet Nutcracker (1983)

Daddy Longlegs, a mercifully one-and-done villain, is found to be responsible. His plan is dismantled by the threesome leaving Daddy Longlegs high and dry on an ice pillar.

Peter, Bobby and Angelica attend the performance which is spelled out by writer Jim Salicrup and illustrated by Jim Mooney.

This teaming of Marvel and the Dallas Times Herald was the last. Already they two had collaborated with a back-to-school edition (Pipeline Peril) and Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders- special (Southwest Showdown) featuring Spidey and the Hulk, Web Head and the Dallas Cowboys (Danger in Dallas) and Spider-Man on his own against the Kingpin (Christmas in Dallas).

The Dallas Times Herald suspended publications in 1991, officially closing its doors December 8 of that year.

Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends aired from 1981 to 1983 on NBC Saturday mornings. It would continue in reruns for another two years.

In its second season, Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends accompanied the Hulk cartoon billed as The Incredible Hulk and the Amazing Spider-Man. Stan Lee began narrating during the second year.

Season one featured 13 episodes, while season two only aired three – each featuring the origin of the three heroes – and the third and final season showcased eight new shows.

Amazing Friends became the launching pad for new mutant Angelica, known as Firestorm. She would debut in comic continuity in Uncanny X-Men 193 in 1985 followed by a four-issue mini-series.

Prior, a Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends one-shot was released in 1981. The book loosely adapted The Triumph of the Green Goblin animated episode. It is not considered part of the canonical legend.

The series opened the original MCU featuring an unprecedented cast of co- and guest stars including the Black Knight, the X-Men, Loki, Shocker, Shanna the She-Devil, Beetle, Mysterio, Red Skull, Thor, Magneto, Juggernaut, Sunfire, Captain America, Daredevil, Hulk, Iron Man, Namor, Doctor Strange, Dr. Doom, Chameleon, Electro, Green Goblin, Kingpin, Doctor Octopus and the Scorpion.

The Red Skull episode has been deleted from the Disney+ schedule due to the portrayal of Nazi swastikas and the phrase “Heil Hitler.”

The idea of Amazing Friends would be resurrected throughout the next few decades. In Spider-Man Family: Amazing Friends (2006) issue one, a back up story, Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends Co-Workers, was included for the 25th anniversary of the animated series.

Brian Michael Bendis gave the series a nod in Ultimate Spider-Man. The cover of issue 118 paired Spidey, Iceman and Firestorm. Rather than Angelica, Bendis used cast member Liz Allan.

So, unless a traditionalist, give the Nutcracker a pass and relax with some animated Marvel goodness.

Posted Thursday, December 1st, 2022 by Barry

Tex Avery’s Droopy (1995) 3

Santa’s Little Helpers is the third and final installment of Tex Avery’s Droopy holiday series.

Droopy and Spike tie for Elf of the Year. With the honor comes shotgun on Santa’s sleigh Christmas Eve. Due to FAA regulations, only one may ride along. To determine his plus one, Santa devises a contest in which the best elf for the remainder of the time will be allowed the ride.

Spike’s nefarious plans to prove Droopy incompetent are his undoing. Sabotaging the toys only seems to bring down the antagonist until a package delivers an unexpected – and unwanted – surprise to Santa.

Tex Avery’s Droopy (1995) 3

Screwball Squirrel headlines in Giga-Bitten.

Starring in the second feature, Squirrel and co-star Meathead prove themselves computer frauds.

Another of Avery’s creations, Screwy was a magician of sorts. The anthropomorphic squirrel was able to pull objects out of thin air. The Sciuridae family member was guilty of breaking the fourth wall long before it became fashionable.

However, his career was short lived, appearing in only five shorts: Screwball Squirrel in 1944; Happy-Go-Nutty, 1944; Big Heel-Watha (1944), The Screwy Truant, 1945; and Lonesome Lenny, 1946.

Hanna-Barbera brought the rodent back in 1993 on Droopy, Master Detective airing on Fox Kids.

For April Fool’s Day 1997, Cartoon Network aired Happy-Go-Nutty from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Screwy would remain retired until 2013 when he guested on Tom and Jerry’s Giant Adventure. In 2019, he returned on Tom and Jerry’s Show in the Double Dog Trouble episode.

He continued to be in the public eye as shorts showcasing Screwy were featured on Warner Bros home releases The Thin Man Goes Home, Dragon Seed, The Clock (1945), Undercurrent and Looney Tunes Platinum Collection Volume 2.

Screwy was also a fixture of the comic book medium. He would appear in Our Gang Comics, Tom & Jerry’s Winter Carnival issues one and two, Tom and Jerry’s Winter Fun issues three, six, seven and eight; Tom & Jerry’s Summer Fun issue one, Tom and Jerry 213, 231 and 232; Golden Comics Digest issues three, five, eight, 18, 22, 28 and 41 for Gold Key Comics; Tex Avery’s Wolf and Red, Tex Avery’s Screwball Squirrel and various issues of Droopy.

Posted Tuesday, November 1st, 2022 by Barry

Tex Avery’s Droopy (1995) 2

Turkey for Dinner begins the countdown to Thanksgiving as Droopy vies for the affections of Ravishing Red.

The unassuming femme fatale is a bountiful prize for the Basset hound who pulls out all the stops to receive a kiss. Violence explodes as Droopy steps back allowing his competition to fend off fowl.

Tex Avery’s Droopy (1995) 2

When the bird besmirches the visage of Ravishing Red, Droopy turns on the turkey and takes matters into his own paws. By story’s end, Droopy has won the contest, the kiss and the closing line.

McWolfe stars in the second feature, a preamble to Christmas, in Wolf & Red in Pretty Present.

Santa passes judgement on the carousing member of the canine family. To atone, McWolfe dons the red union suit and plays department store Santa. His wishes come true when Red squeezes into the elf suit. A series of misadventures titillates the titular character enough so he quits his position.

Santa deals with the defection by sending McWolf on an errand. Another page or two and the ending could have proved x-rated.

Droopy was created by Tex Avery in 1943 for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to appear in animated shorts. His debut was in Dumb-Hounded, but did not receive his name until the fifth short, Senior Droopy in 1949.

His voice and personality were derived from Wallace Wimple, as portrayed by Bill Thompson on the radio comedy Fibber McGee and Molly.

In addition to McWolf as antagonist, Droopy faced bulldog Spike as he did in Turkey for Dinner.

Filmation produced a series of shorts in 1980 to complement The Tom and Jerry Comedy Show.

Droopy had finally sired a son by the 1990s. Dripple, as he is known, accompanied the Tom & Jerry Kids cartoon by Hanna-Barbera. Droopy would earn a cameo in Who Framed Roger Rabbit as an elevator operator and Tom and Jerry: The Movie.

The Roger Rabbit guest continued in Disney’s Rabbit shorts, Tummy Trouble, Roller Coaster Rabbit, and Trail Mix-Up.

Return in 30 for the third and final Droopy holiday special.

Posted Thursday, October 20th, 2022 by Barry

Army of Darkness Halloween Special (2018)

Cult classic The Evil Dead was resurrected yet again for the 2018 Dynamite Halloween special, Ash vs. The Army of Darkness: Scared Shipless.

Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell embody the horror franchise. Raimi envisioned the original, a low-budget thriller costing an estimated $375,000 that eventually grossed $29.4 million worldwide.

The film was released in 1981 to generally critical praise. Stephen King lauded the film as one of his favorite movies.

It earned a continued life on video cassette, especially in the UK. During its first week of release the film raked in over 100,000 pounds. By year’s end, it was the best-selling VHS outgrossing heavy weight films such as The Shining.

Army of Darkness Halloween Special (2018)

Evil Dead 2 was released in 1987 with Raimi co-writing and directing and Campbell back as the lead, Ash.

The sequel continued to operate in the black and garner respect from critics. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the movie three out of four stars.

The pair reunited again in 1992 for Army of Darkness. The third installment earned $21.5 million on an $11-million investment.

It, also, received high marks from most critics and continued the cult classic status as with the original two films.

Since then, the franchise has expanded to other media such as video games, comic books, a musical and a television series.

In Scared Shipless, Ash is lured to Charles Town, South Carolina, to fulfill of prophesy written in blood three centuries before.

As the “chosen one,” Ash’s life force awakens the spirit of Blackbeard the Pirate. The titular hero’s impromptu date ruins the would-be revolt of ghostly pirates and current day Charles Town, SC, is safe for another tourist season.

Cemetery Man is a short follow up allowing Ash to play over-the-hill hero to a group of partying millennials.

To paraphrase Ash, “Happy Halloween, Boneheads.”

Posted Tuesday, October 18th, 2022 by Barry

A Very DC Halloween (2019)

The DCU celebrated Halloween 2019 with a trade paperback of reprint material issued the previous two years entitled A Very DC Halloween.

The first half of the trade is pulled directly from DC House of Horror (2017).

Keith Giffen gives readers Bump in the Night with a retelling of Superman’s arrival on Earth. This time it doesn’t end well.

His next offering is a slasher tale featuring the ghost of Wonder Woman in Man’s World.

Another ghost story, Crazy for You, features Harley Quinn haunting a man into killing his wife.

The Last Laugh is more original as Giffen debates the yin and yang of vigilantism.

Blackest Day is a zombie apocalypse on Earth with plot by Giffen and script by Brian Keene.

Ronald Malfi scripts Giffen’s Stray Arrow with Green Arrow as a vigilante killer.

A Very DC Halloween (2019)

Two-Face is featured in Unmasked, a story by Giffen and Wrath James White.

Uttering Shazam takes the speaker to darker realms in The Possession of Billy Batson.

Swamp Thing stars in The Spread, as taken from Swamp Thing Halloween Horror Giant issue one. This Walmart exclusive was a 100-page special offered in 2018 with an original story followed by reprints from previous Halloween specials.

The remainder of this book is filled with stories from 2018’s Cursed Comics Cavalcade in the order they originally appeared, the first being Gorehound.

Batman saves the final girl who – spoiler – is really the killer.

Siren Song is a tale of myth and mystery starring Wonder Woman.

Alien zombies spoil Guy Gardner’s vacation in Life Sentence.

Demon Etrigan possesses a man a woman hires Jason Blood to find in Yellow Jack.

A ghost from the Phantom Zone haunts Lois and Clark in Strange Visitor.

The Monster in Me pits a doppelganger of Green Arrow against himself on a long, hot night.

Black Lightning and Katana get some love in Mercy Killing as they protect a young girl from a demon.

An unlikely pairing of Solomon Grundy and Robin share top billing in The Devil You Know. Professor Pyg threatens three runaway girls under the protection of Grundy.

Finally, Halloween Hayride is a simpler story showcasing Zatanna. The magic mistress plies her trade to stop an older brother from scaring his sister.

With this many stories to pick and choose from, there are plenty of tricks and treats.

Posted Sunday, October 16th, 2022 by Barry

Archie Halloween Blowout 2 Rise of the Monsters (2013)

Archie and gang were trotted out for a second dose of holiday horror with the 2013 follow up, Archie Halloween Blowout 2 Rise of the Monsters.

This digital exclusive begins with the 21-page The Riverdale Weirdleys told in four parts, The Riverdale Weirdleys, Ghoulish Games!, Sinister Celebration and Fearsome Finale!; in which the Weirdley family searches for their grandfather’s missing treasure.

The story was originally told in World of Archie issue five 20 years before it was reprinted.

Goosebumped, as retold from Archie’s Double Digest Magazine 97, has a lionhearted Archie bragging how scary movies are anything, but scary – until he has the house all to himself.

Riverdale becomes Woodsboro, kinda, in a parody of Scream called Shriek!

The Archie’s Weird Mysteries retread from issue two of 2000 features a much kinder Ghost Face as the title character tracks down the puzzle posed by his appearance.

Reggie’s monster-sized ego is dissected in Egology. The story first appeared in Tales from Riverdale Digest 37.

Animal Antics is a one-page gag featuring Veronica and Archie.

Sabrina gives Monster Advice to, well, monsters as she lands a job with Magic Times. The love loran find it worth their wile to listen to the young columnist as they gather for their big day.

Betty bases her costume on necessity more than desire to wrangle a wayward Archie as she shops for her Halloween apparel.

Westward Ho hails from Archie & Friends Double Digest 18.

They Mystery of Dr. Klaws is an 11-page turner pitting purr against claw as Archie and Veronica fight their way free of a demented scientist with an unhealthy obsession for felines.

Dr. Klaws was first featured in Life with Archie 248.

Archie Halloween Blowout 2 Rise of the Monsters (2013)

Archie and Jughead perform a good deed to help an old man in The House on Oak Street as told in two parts originally hailing from Archie’s Pals ‘n’ Gals Double Digest Magazine issue 48.

An over active appetite leaves Jughead holding the (empty) bag in Gobblin’ Goblin from Archie’s Pal Jughead Comics 111.

Chiller is a behind-the-scenes stab at Michael Jackson’s Thriller, only with a real line up of Universal monsters.

This was taken from Betty and Veronica Double Digest Magazine 72.

Sabrina takes readers back a couple decades in Air Flair, originally printed in Archie and Me 146. The one-page gag couples modern technology and ancient wizardry for the punchline.

Legend has it Mr. Lodge’s new Haunted Beach House is bedeviled. Veronica, Betty and Archie investigate only to find rumors are given weight by those who believe in them.

The story first appeared in Betty and Veronica Comics Digest Magazine 122.

Horror hosts and haunted houses make up the bulk of Midnight Madness. Neither make Archie happy in this rehash from Archie Annual Digest 39.

Posted Friday, October 14th, 2022 by Barry

Archie Halloween Blowout (Pep Digital 25 – 2012)

At 113 pages, readers can forgive the retread material from previous Riverdale adventures.

Archie and friends rehash Halloween tales beginning with Halloween Scene pulled from World of Archie Digest issue 72. In this seven-page story, rival Reggie attempts to undermine Betty and Veronica’s time with the ginger-haired star of the book. His monstrous machinations backfire when Archie’s adorable apparel gives him the edge in amour.

Costume Brawl is a Betty and Veronica vehicle culled from Betty and Veronica Double Digest 216. The pair must learn to get along as they shop for Halloween costumes together.

The Archies are reunited for a reunion concert in Haunted Helpers from Archies Pals ‘n’ Gales Double Digest 145. The ghosts of concert hall past can rest easy with a new generation to carry on the musical message.

Cheryl Blossom guests in Identity Crisis. Her scheme to steal a kiss from Archie works, but leaves the hapless red head dazed and confused.

Jughead foils a business venture when food outweighs his fear in House of Fright. The story first appeared in Jughead’s Double Digest 116.

Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, stars in the next two tales. Oh, What Knight debuted in Archie’s Pals ‘n’ Gals Double Digest 145. The junior enchantress travels down the time stream to be at two parties at the same time.

Archie Halloween Blowout (Pep Digital 25 – 2012)

In A Monstrous Halloween, first printed in Betty and Veronica Double Digest Magazine 267, Sabrina finds it is what meets the eyes that’s important.

Betty and Veronica find Party Poopers come in all ages. The story first appeared in the duo’s self-titled digest, issue 237.

Halloween and a horror movie marathon are always a good combo, but Archie finds it’s the guests he has to worry about in Tricks and Treats.

Who Is It? is the question at Veronica’s Halloween party. Guests are tasked to come completely disguised so no one will know who they are until the appointed time or someone guesses. Jughead and Archie’s monkey business leaves both wondering what to do next in this pull from Betty and Veronica 167.

The 1992 Trick or Thief? From Archie & Friends has Archie earning just desserts for a job well done.

Veronica finds the Perfect Costume doesn’t always cover every occasion. The story first appeared in Betty and Veronica 193.

Lodge of Terror rounds out the hefty horror tome. This 1987 piece first printed in Betty and Veronica Double Digest Magazine is a lengthy 18 pages. Veronica enlists the aid of the usual gang for a scare fest at her Halloween party only to be outdone by her blond buddy.

The book can be found at free through Kindle and comiXology or to buy for $1.99 at your favorite digital download site.

Posted Saturday, October 1st, 2022 by Barry

Tex Avery’s Droopy (1995) 1

Dr. Droopenstein opens the month with a shot worthy of James Whale; brooding stonework towering into the shadows as streaks of lightning announce the birth pains of bringing a monster to life.

The atmosphere quickly dissolves by the next page when headliner, Droopy, opens his mouth and the mind “hears” the laconic drawl associated with the animated character.

A cloud as real as the ones outside hangs over Droopy as he realizes his experiment has failed. But, where to find a fresh brain this time of night?

To quote Matthew 7:7, “Ask, and you shall receive…”

Tex Avery's Droopy (1995) #1

Tex Avery’s Droopy (1995) #1

Receive Droopy does, in the form of arch nemesis McWolf.

The wayward wolf is only too happy to partake of Droopy’s hospitality. Doffing his rain-soaked jacket he makes himself comfortable by the fire. His demeanor is quick to change when the plot unfolds and his host begins to chase him around the castle wanting his brain.

Droopy is able to catch his fleetfooted friend when he comes across the shapely bride wrapped in gauze. The transfer is made, but the monster finds his new mate more than he bargained for.

Rod Serling is bashed in The Violent Zone, a parody of the 1959 anthology series in the book’s second installment.

The Twilight Zone ran five seasons, 1959 to 1964. Each episode would feature a fantasy or horror aspect and offer a twist ending.

Frankenstein; or The Modern Prometheus, began as a novel written by Mary Shelley. The original text bore a passing resemblance to Whale’s screen adaptation.

The monster became an icon four years later when the director made Bride of Frankenstein in 1935. Bride was highly praised upon its release and was added to the United States National Film Registry in 1998. Empire Magazine selected it as one of the greatest 500 movies of all time and Time Magazine praised it as one of the top 100 movies of all time.

This version was brought to life by Brian Lemay story and pencils and is the first of a trilogy of holiday spectacles offered by Dark Horse Comics. Thanksgiving and Christmas follow.

Posted Monday, July 25th, 2022 by Barry

Vampirella Holiday Special (2021)

Yeah, I know, the only cool spot is in the house with the central air blowing.

It’s July. What do ya expect?

And, here we are, showcasing a Christmas comic book.

Well, it’s Christmas in July. Suck it up, buttercup.

To offset the heat, here are a few Christmas chronicles from the horror-story hostess. Or, she was, until issue eight of her self-titled magazine when she moved to lead character.

Vampirella first appeared under the Warren Publishing imprint in the black-and-white Vampirella beginning in 1969. She was created by Forrest J. Ackerman and Trina Robbins, running a total of 112 issues. The book ceased publication in 1983.

Harris Publications picked up the pieces when Warren went under due to financial distress. Vampirella returned to the printed page in ongoing and mini series between 1991 to 2007.

After a three-year hiatus, Dynamite Entertainment continued chronicling Vampirella’s adventures which it still does.

This holiday special showcases three stories, the first being The Fright Before Christmas by Will Robson.

Vamprella is hunted by humans set on bringing her to heel by legends of Christmas past, present and future. Dissention causes their downfall and the holidays are happy for the supernatural folk again.

A Christmas vacation goes awry when Kaiju threaten Hong Kong in Vampire Bells by Vincenzo Federici.

Finally, Vampirella saves Christmas when Santa and Krampus have a knock down, drag out. Sleigh, by Vincenzo Carratu, is a silent story with a stranger ending.

The book featured 10 different covers, some just variations on works by Joseph Michel Linsner, Roberto Castro, Bruna Sales, Vanessa Tolentino and Ron Leary. Model Rachel Hollon appeared on both the cosplay and virgin cosplay covers.

Vampirella Holiday Special (2021)

Posted Friday, December 31st, 2021 by Barry

Zombie Tramp New Year’s Eve Special (2016) 1

It’s New Year’s Eve and a girls gotta eat.

Tarnishing the tradition of the Time Square’s ball drop, Zombie Tramp and friend make a pact to share a special meal. The caveat is, both want their dinner served rare.

The story is biting and the humor risqué. Along the way, New Year’s Eve is revealed to be a farce. Don’t let the PG-13 rating the title would receive deter you from giving it a read.

Zombie Tramp is really Janey Belle. She was created by Dan Mendoza in 2009. Action Lab Comics picked the character up for a 13-issue run. She was moved to Action Lab’s Danger Zone imprint and continues to see print on a regular basis.

Her origins begin as a high-class hooker in Hollywood. She ran afoul of a client and was eaten by his zombie son.

Janey has appeared in three other specials including Christmas, Easter and Valentine’s Day.

Happy New Year’s everyone.