Archive for the ‘Holiday Specials’ Category

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.

Posted Tuesday, December 21st, 2021 by Barry

Winter Soldier Winter Kills (2007) 1

The one constant in comic books was the death of Captain America’s sidekick, James Buchanan “Bucky” Barnes.

That was until 2005 when writer Ed Brubaker returned the youth from the dead by explaining he had been knocked unconscious, found by the Russians and trained to kill.

To maintain his youthful appearance and abilities, Bucky has been kept in cryogenic stasis between missions. Much like he was found by General Vasily Karpov and crew of the Russian submarine.

Winter Soldier Winter Kills (2007) 1

Winter Soldier Winter Kills (2007) 1

Captain America helped Bucky regain his lost memories, but the former sidekick remains elusive to his former friend.

In Winter Kills, Bucky is given the opportunity to enjoy Christmas for the first time in 63 years. His festivities are cut short when Nick Fury asks him to wrangle the Young Avengers in their pursuit of Hydra.

Bucky is able to herd them to a victory with enough time to relive past wounds at the gravesides of Jack Munroe and Toro.

Created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, Bucky first appeared in Captain America Comics issue one. He would accompany Captain America throughout World War II.

When super heroes became passe in the late 1940s and early 1950s, both Cap and Bucky faded from the spin racks and memories…until Stan Lee revived Captain America in the early 1960s in Avengers issue four.

Bucky would appear in flashbacks in Tales of Suspense during the Sixties. It was in the title readers learned of his fate at the end of the war.

In the 1970s, Rick Jones would don the blue and red costume and play second fiddle to Cap for a time.

Winter Solider has become a major force in the Marvel Universe, even making the break to the silver screen as played by Sebastian Stan.

Posted Saturday, December 18th, 2021 by Barry

Klaus and the Life & Times of Joe Christmas (2019) 1

Hold it up like a centerfold and you have Grant Morrison’s advent calendar-style Christmas greeting for 2019.

Based on BOOM! Studio’s bio, Klaus is, “a myth. He’s a legend. He’s loved worldwide by children and adults alike…but does anyone truly know the origins of Santa Claus? Set in a dark fantastic past of myth and magic, Klaus tells the origin story of Santa Claus. It’s a tale of one man and his wolf against a totalitarian state and the ancient evil that sustains it.”

Klaus and the Life & Times of Joe Christmas was just the latest installment that includes Klaus & the Witch of Winter one shot, Klaus & the Crying Snowman, and Klaus and the Crisis in Xmasville.

Klaus and the Life & Times of Joe Christmas (2019) 1

Klaus and the Life & Times of Joe Christmas (2019) 1

This story is a countdown to Christmas chronicling the regression in age of Klaus. Turn the book on its side and flip to count down to the 25th.

Morrison began Klaus’ adventures in 2015 with Dan Mora and Ed Dukeshire. Their vision was to retell the story of Santa Claus as superhero story.

The Scottish comic book writer and playwright may be better known for his work with the mainstream companies. Morrison was part of DC’s “British invasion” working on titles such as Animal Man, Doom Patrol, Batman, JLA, All-Star Superman, Green Lantern, The Invisibles and more.

In 2016 Morrison began a two-year reign as editor-in-chief of Heavy Metal magazine. After abdicating the position, he returned to the DC Universe where, with Liam Sharp, the pair started a new book with a new look at Green Lantern.

Currently Morrison is working on a novella.

Posted Thursday, December 9th, 2021 by Barry

Bugs Bunny’s Christmas Funnies (1950) 1

At 128 pages, the November 1 release of this 25-cent giant may give the reader enough time to finish it by Christmas.

Dell Publishing Co., released this ad-free Christmas comic in 1950. Included were stories, puzzles, holiday sheet music and more.

The book begins with Bugs reclining beneath a leafless tree waiting for Christmas to arrive.

His musings are interrupted by a bird bearing a letter. Intercepting the post, Bugs learns it is addressed to the local chimney sweep. Upon opening the missive, the local sweep learns Santa wants all the chimneys cleaned before he arrives Christmas Eve.

Bugs offers to help the daunted sweep and the two set about their chores.

In the process Bugs ruins Elmer Fudd’s trimmed tree. To make amends, the bunny sets out to cut down a fresh one.

While in the woods, Bugs meets a shepherd looking for Santa Claus. Bugs learns the shepherd builds miniature mechanical men who help make the presents.

At the shepherd’s shop, Bugs discovers a giant robot who then rampages through the countryside until Bugs provides some kindred spirit to calm the construct of iron.

All’s well that ends well when Bugs returns to Elmer’s with a replacement tree and the gang stops by to put presents underneath.

The story is followed by a two-page spread of a game version of the previous story.

Bugs Bunny’s Famous Funnies (1950) 1

Bugs Bunny’s Famous Funnies (1950) 1

Porky Pig shares the spotlight with Bugs in the second story. This fantastical tale has nothing to do with Christmas unless you count the avarice both share as they search for the mythical money tree.

Their journey takes them to a far-away kingdom and back courtesy of a magical pencil.

Two pages of Fascinating Facts About Christmas follow.

Sylvester the Cat is up next. His furry fanny is tossed to the snow on Christmas Eve in this nameless story.

His fortune seems to change when he meets Angus Macrory looking for a watch dog that same night. Sylvester uses his feline charms to convince the Scotts man he can do as good a job as any canine.

However, no good job goes unpunished, or something like that. Sylvester finds himself back in the snow when he stops Santa from making an unannounced delivery.

Party Pastime is a prose tale starring the Looney Tunes gang.

Bully Trouble stars Henry Hawk outside the Christmas season. He must find a way to solve his bully troubles so he can make a soapbox racer.

The holidays return with Sniffles and Mary Jane’s Christmas Eve adventure.

Mary Jane is able to shrink to mouse-size and join Sniffles under the tree to wait for Santa. They doze off and are mistaken for dolls to be delivered to other children. Handy elves save the eve and both return home for Christmas morning.

Emler and Daffy Duck team for a story better suited for President’s Day. The lazy drake finds himself a slave to Elmer when he can’t fly south for the winter. A non-politically correct ending stalls a whip-wielding Elmer.

Bugs takes a wrong turn at “Albee-Kirkee” to find himself sunning at the South Pole. Twerpo the penguin takes a liking to Bugs who doesn’t return the feelings. But, Bugs can’t allow his admirer to become dinner and cross dresses to save Twerpo.

Bugs decides to stay when he learns days are six-months long and the Aurora Australis will keep him warm.

Little Pancho Vanilla teaches his papacito a lesson when the elder matador tries to force his profession on his son.

The book finishes with another prose short and a printed version of the 1949 Holiday for Drumsticks short starring Daffy.

Posted Wednesday, December 1st, 2021 by Barry

The Simpsons Winter Wingding (2008) 3

Fearing the reason for the season was being overshadowed, Rev. Lovejoy’s sermon on Christmas and commercialism cause Ned Flanders to revoke his – and his family’s – belief in Santa.

The Simpsons Winter Wingdings (2008) 3

The Simpsons Winter Wingdings (2008) 3

Surprisingly, it’s Bart, with Lisa, who bring belief back to the Flander’s household in Yes, Flanders, There is a Santa Claus. Though, it does come with a lesson.

In Scared Straight…to Jail, Bart has finally turned the corner. Homer sends his first born off to the big house – just to teach him a lesson. It’s Bart who proves to be the professor, though.

With no Hanukkah mascots to merchandise, Krusty draws on his dream team of devisors. The end result is star studded with a special guest appearance of Kang and Kodos in Not a (Green, Slimy) Creature Was Stirring.

Attempting to lose weight, Homer takes an experimental sleep potion in Hibernation Homer. Paul Dini puts the Simpson patriarch through his paces – and the winter holidays – as the snoozing Homer plugs St. Patrick’s Day and Easter.

None are the wiser come spring.

Posted Monday, November 29th, 2021 by Barry

All-New Collectors’ Edition C-53

A tabloid-size dose of holiday season was brought to you by DC Comics for 1978.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer stars in Only Two Days to Christmas as presented by Sheldon Mayer in two acts. The first being Baddy Bear’s Big Blunder.

Rudolph has his nose set for a celebration when presents are wrapped a full two days before Christmas eve. Santa warns Rudolph of the consequences should they wake Baddy Bear while he is hibernating.

All-New Collectors’ Edition C-53

All-New Collectors’ Edition C-53

Of course, the noise level rises enough to rouse the sleeping bear. Still drowsy from his dozing, Baddy Bear succumbs to a series of events leading him to believe his den has been invaded.

Santa and gang are recruited to find the culprit leading to Act 2:  Rudy and the Hopeless Heroes!

A war ensues until the blunder can be rectified and all is well once more. A Merry Christmas from the principles and a star for Rudolph is a good enough finish.

Mayer serves up a second helping of Rudolph with Giant Problem.

Rudolph’s friend, Grover, creates a device that will transport anything anywhere. While attempting to demonstrate on Santa’s sleigh, the machine malfunctions and sends his ride into the Forbidden Forest.

Hero that he is, Rudolph follows the sleigh’s trail only find a giant Eskimo has claimed it for an ice skate.

Santa steps in to resolve the issue and Rudolph finds himself at the front of the line, leading the gang as they begin their annual travels.

The book closes with puzzles.

First up is a maze to Funland.

Santa poses for a few illustrations while eagle-eyed youngsters are encouraged to find the twin Clauses.

Rudy’s Party Riddles offer some jokes to tell around the Christmas tree.

Santa’s Safety Target Game, a lesson in how to make party hats from wrapping paper and connect-the-dots rounds out the tome.

Posted Sunday, October 31st, 2021 by Barry

The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror (2017) 23

Issue 23 not only marks the end of October, but the end of the annual Halloween specials from Fox’s first family.

The beginning of the end borrows from the King of horror with IT Happens! Homer, Marge, Carl, Lenny and Barney find a television favorite is haunting their waking dreams. They finally defeat their demon only to have him return in adulthood.

If this sounds familiar, IT should.

The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror (2017) 23

The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror (2017) 23

Stephan King’s IT began as a novel released in 1986. The 1,200-page tome is King’s 22nd, and based on an idea planted in 1978. He wouldn’t put pen to paper until 1981.

IT became a two-part television mini-series in 1990 airing in November for sweeps month. ABC gambled $12 million on the project and earned huge returns. IT became the network’s biggest success of the year with 30-million viewers tuning in for the Losers’ Club’s exploits.

The novel was adapted for the big screen and released in 2017 and 2018 to mixed reviews.

Next up is Marge’s story in A Fungus Among Us. It’s up to the Simpson matriarch to save the family from an invasion from space.

Bringing the book to a close is Curse of the Cat Lady.

Comic Book Guy finds himself inheriting the traits of our four-legged friend due to a gypsy curse placed on him for his carelessness.

This story bears a passing resemblance to Sam and Ivan Rami’s 2009 horror thriller Drag Me to Hell. The film passed through theaters opening at number four. It also received the Best Horror Film nod at the 2009 Scream Awards and 2010 Saturn Awards. At the box office it earned a respectable $90 million.

With the final issue of the printed version of Treehouse of Horror in hand, it’s only appropriate to talk about the source material.

The televised Treehouse of Horror tradition began Oct. 25, 1990, during The Simpsons’ second season.

Since then, the airings have become anticipated events. Each episode is usually made up a three, separate parodies. The openings are unique in themselves, almost making up a fourth segment.

The only interruptions to the episodes were due to Fox Network’s coverage of the World Series. At least two of the episodes aired in November.

No matter when the episode airs, it is among the top-rated shows of the season. In addition to the fan support, several episodes have been honored with awards.

So, with our final scare released, find some left-over trick-or-treat candy and settle in with one of the 23 issues mentioned this month or find a classic Treehouse of Horrors to pop in and remember.

Happy Halloween.

Posted Saturday, October 30th, 2021 by Barry

The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror (2016) 22

Treating readers for the cover-dated Sept. 21, 2016, issue 22 The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror would be a trilogy of terrible titters beginning with the Ghost Bashers.

Homer and gang don the proton packs as they answer the call, skewering the supernatural comedy.

The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror (2016) 22

The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror (2016) 22

Ghostbusters became the blockbuster of 1984 courtesy of Ivan Reitman and Dan Akroyd. Co-starring with co-creator Akroyd were Bill Murray, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson.

The film brought in $282.2 million during its initial release on a $25 to $30 million investment. In 2015, the movie was inducted into the National Film Registry.

Following its release and unexpected success, a plethora of merchandising followed as did a sequel, daily animated series and remake – of sorts.

Second up is the Ex-Files starring Lisa and Nelson. Though no longer a couple, the two team to expose some supernatural shenanigans at Springfield Elementary.

It may have taken some time, but the Simpsons’ crew finally got around to poking some fun at Chris Carter’s no nonsense sci-fi drama. The X-Files aired from 1993 to 2002 on the network the Simpsons’ helped build, airing 202 episodes.

Carter, an unapologetic fan of Kolchak: The Night Stalker, was initially denied, but persevered until a pilot was approved. It was viewed by 12 million people. By season’s end, the show had 14 million turning the dial to the show.

As the millennium began to close, The X-Files, or The X-Files: Fight the Future, debuted in theaters. A second feature film was later released, The X-Files: I Want to Believe.

The X-Files would return to the small screen for two seasons in 2015. The series continued for two seasons before calling it quits.

Finishing off the book is Retirement Castle of the Vampires!

Grandpa and his geriatric gang finally have a vehicle all their own. It may be a Model A, but there’s no rust on the bunch as they dust off the dentures and take a bite out of the jugular.

Posted Friday, October 29th, 2021 by Barry

The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror (2015) 21

Like the Sears Wish Book of old would herald each year’s Christmas season, so did The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror. Both came in September, each promising the respective holiday would soon be there.

Opening with Graveyard Shift, Apu finds himself in director Joe Dante’s world of Gremlins. Too bad he didn’t heed the warning: No Squishees after midnight.

The 1984 horror comedy was a critical and commercial success. Gremlins raked in $12.5 million in its first weekend, second only to the original Ghostbusters. By November 29 of the same year, Gremlins had earned $148,168,459 in the United States alone.

All on an $11 million investment.

It spawned a sequel in 1990 with Gremlins 2: The New Batch. It was not as well received as its inspiration, but does have its fans.

The Left Behinders is a cleverly penned story title giving readers a clue as to Ned Flanders nightmare. Homer’s nosy neighbor believes he has been ignored at the Rapture. He later finds he’s not the only one to share a common trait among those remaining.

Ian Boothby and James Lloyd’s tragic narrative may be based on Stephen King’s The Langoliers, a novella collected in the 1990 compilation Four Past Midnight.

Finally, Springfieldopolis spoofs Fritz Lang’s expressionist science-fiction drama made in 1927. Marge is the symbol of the downtrodden mirrored against Mr. Burns’ greed.

Metropolis is often cited as one of the most influential films ever made. It took 17 months to make and cost $5 million Reichsmarks, one of the most expensive movies made to that point. It was originally budgeted at $1.5 million Reichsmarks.

When finished, Metropolis was an exhausting 153 minutes. It would later be edited to 128 minutes and, finally, 91 minutes by its American debut.

Initially, the movie met with mixed reviews. It would take hindsight and patience to appreciate the film.

The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror (2015) 21