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Christmas Ham: 12/25/09

Or Hanukkah Something-Kosher to our Jewish readers out there, like Stan Lee, who surely reads this blog every day on his Blackberry. Hi, Stan!

Yes, you’ve all been good little fanboys and girls, so here’s a quick Sunday-Brunch-esque Holiday Treat, in which I throw a stocking full of recent and interesting links at you.

QUESTION OF THE SEASON: Best Christmas-slash-holiday-season-themed comic you’ve read?

ITEM! Stan Lee reads The Night Before Christmas. Heartwarming– or terrifying? U-Decide!

ITEM! Tucker Stone tells it like it is in re: fan entitlement:

DC’s and Marvel’s business strategies for the last twenty years (and this decade especially) have been focused on maximizing the amount of money that they can make off their most committed audience members. That’s not a theory. And when those companies decide to make a move towards rectifying that, or when there’s a perception that that feeling might be the motivating force behind a new product or a product change, a portion of the loyal audience seems to take it as a personal attack, albeit a veiled one.

ITEM! The Comics Journal shares a conversation between Matt Fraction and Denny O’Neil, and it’s fascinating. And yes, I’m going to dredge this old chestnut back up:

Fraction: I think that continuity’s the devil. [O'Neil laughs.] I’m a fan of consistency — I think consistency is the watchword. Continuity? I mean, I’ve been reading comics for 30 years now, my parents have been reading comics as long as I’ve been writing them professionally and any time I’m in sticky territory where I’m not sure my folks are going to be able to follow what’s going on, it’s like a little red flag goes up. So, I try to make things as accessible as humanly possible and as consistent with the history and the continuity. But continuity-heavy stuff — and I write [Uncanny] X-Men, I am in a continuity minefield many days of the week and I try to avoid that exclusionary approach, even when you’re wrapped up in these big crossover events or when the currents of the macro-narrative are flowing in a certain direction, I still think there are ways that you can write and be as accessible as possible to somebody.

ITEM! Kate Beaton gets into the Christmas comicking spirit as only she can:

beaton xmas

ITEM! Friend of CSBG Bry Kotyk draws himself up a Christmas comic as well, the newest in his sporadic Welcome to Hereafter series. He’s like the male Kate Beaton! Almost not really!

bry xmas

ITEM! Chris Sims has placed a newborn Solomon Stone Christmas Special babe in the manger, and it’s somewhere between Die Hard and Gremlins on the awesome-Christmas-dealy scale. In this one, Solomon fights Atnas, the Anti-Santa.

Atnas

ITEM! Neill Cameron, he of the A-Z of Awesomeness, has bestowed upon the world the Advent Calendar of Awesomeness. So Merry Christmas from Reanimated Kill-Bot Hello Kitty Revenge Santa and friends:

hello kitty santa

SHAMELESS PLUG DEPT: I’m sort of updating my own blog again, and writing about movies I watch and stuff. Visit and bump my audience up to the double digits! I’m sure my attention span on this project will hold for at least two weeks.

That’s all for this holiday! Now make sure to watch the Doctor Who Christmas and New Year’s Specials, and, uh, I guess talk to your families or something.

33 Comments

Best Christmas/Holiday comic I’ve read is Darwyn Cooke’s & J. Bone’s one from Spider-Man’s Tangled Web. Marvel should really put that out in a collection with Cooke & Bone’s Valentine’s issue too. Two cracking tales.

Happy Christmas Everyone!

Hanukkah Something-Kosher

Brisket is probably what you want for the equivalent Hanukkah dish, although latkes (fried potato pancakes) and soofganiot (fried jelly filled doughnuts) are more emblematic of the holiday. Eating fried stuff connects us with the oil in the menorah lasting for 8 days.

(A funnier person than I would figure out a clever reference to the “traditional prefight donut” in the second TMNT movie.)

Best Christmas-slash-holiday-season-themed comic I’ve read? Gotta be the GLX-Mas Special.

I have a special place in my heart for Marvel’s Holiday Special from 1991 (I think). I don’t think there was a stinker in the bunch. Some of the stories included:

- The Punisher taking on some drug dealers on a bridge that homeless people lived under. He blows up the drug dealers, causing all their cash to rain on the people below.
- Ghost Rider saves a kidnapped blind boy. The kid thinks GR is Santa when he feels his boots and hears the jingle of his chain.
- The X-Men use cerebro to find the world’s most powerful mutant…Santa.
- Captain America finds Bucky’s long-lost sister on Christmas Eve. (She looks like Aunt May by that point. Great moment is when she yells at Cap “Go get washed up for dinner, young man!”)
- Spider-Man and J. Jonah Jameson go cheer up some sick kids in a hospital.

Like I said, not a stinker in the bunch. The first two were NOT written in a cutsey way; the Punisher story was particularly grim, but snuck a hartwarming ending in there.

Best Christmas-themed comic? Starman #27, hands down. I also really loved that Waid Flash issue where Wally and Jay deliver a Christmas baby in an alley (#73, I believe).

So what is the only substance that can defeat the opposite of Santa Claus?

I haven’t read a great many Christmas comics, but my favourite of what I have read is Spectacular Spider-Man #112 by Peter David.

I thought one of my favorite holiday comics was Spectre vol. 4 #24, where Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman all send Christmas gifts to Hal Jordan’s niece, but when I double checked for the issue number, I realized that the story was about her birthday.

I love that issue of X-Men where Cannonball goes shopping for his family and gets in a fight with the alien Gladiator. There’s a rad Punisher cameo, and the first panel is an homage to that Christmas issue with the Sentinels from years back during the first Claremont/Byrne run! So good.

Yes! The Peter David Spider-man Christmas issue is great. (despite an awesomely cheesy cover)

One of my favorite holiday shorts is a 2 page classic about Santa delivering coal to Darkseid on Apocalypse.

Kudos to Ryan, RWE, Mary, Anthony, Adam and Thok…I have read all of those tales and those are good….My fav was the Cannonball tale because to that point Gladiator was unbeatable to me outside of being fought by a psychic. Cannonball showed his maturity and intelligence during the fight which also showed Marvel giving him growth.

Outside of those mentioned, I liked the holiday story in JSA where Ma Hunkle was being recruited by the Old Guard to come back to run the team’s facilities shortly after Montez got turned into Eclipso. While looking for her, they run across a robbery being foiled by a Santa Claus then cue the hilarity.

The other tale I like is in the G-Man series where there Christmas Tree gains sentience and goes to work for Santa. The Father’s attitude and expressions during the whole situation is funny as heck….

To all…Happy Holidays…..

Wolverine (Current Dark Wolverine) #49. Wolverine is forced to save a spoiled little brat from Christmas themed terrorists trying to get her daddy’s money and disguising it as an anti-consumerist attack. Think Die-Hard with Wolverine.

So what is the only substance that can defeat the opposite of Santa Claus?

Well, the whole point is to entice you to, you know, click the link and read the story for yourself.

Why is it so important to CARE about what Hanukkah celebrants want when they only make up 3 percent of the population? Not very democratic, giving undue attention to such a tiny percentage of the population. Where does all this fear of not honoring Hanukkah derive from, especially from those who don’t even celebrate it?

(Facepalms at Steve)

While those of the Jewish faith or Jewish ancestry make up 3% of the general population, their presence in the field of comics is staggering.

While still a minority in the field, they are still many times more prevalent, and even more important. Without them, we wouldn’t have comics as they exist today.

One of the ironies of the comics industry is that there have probably been as many Christmas stories in comics scripted by Jews, than by Christians (if not more).

I quite love the Solomon Stone strip. Thank you for linking too it.

Daryll B:

Yeah, that issue of JSA was pretty great.

Why is it so important to CARE about what Hanukkah celebrants want when they only make up 3 percent of the population?

I dunno. Maybe it’s because I’m not a dick.

they only make up 3 percent of the population?

THE population? The population of what? Because if it was by world population then it would be a lot less than 3 percent. It’s not very democratic, this undue attention given to the United States, given that they only make up 5% of the population.

But, to answer your question, here are some reasons to care, care of Mark Twain:

If statistics are right, the Jews constitute but one percent of the human race. It suggests a nebulous dim puff of stardust lost in the blaze of the Milky Way. Properly, the Jew ought hardly to be heard of, but he is heard of, has always been heard of. He is as prominent on the planet as any other people, and his commercial importance is extravagantly out of proportion to the smallness of his bulk. His contributions to the world’s list of great names in literature, science, art, music, finance, medicine, and abstruse learning are also away out of proportion to the weakness of his numbers. He has made a marvelous fight in this world, in all the ages; and had done it with his hands tied behind him. He could be vain of himself, and be excused for it. The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed; and made a vast noise, and they are gone; other people have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished. The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?

So just mentioning Hanukkah is bringing “undue attention to such a tiny percentage of the population”? Comic book readers are also a tiny percentage of the population. So by Steve’s rationale, this blog should be nothing but blank pages.

You’re an idiot.

I’d have to go with The Christmas Spirit by Will Eisner, which reprints all of the XMas Spirit stories from the 40s and 50s.

Followed by Paul Dini’s JINGLE BELLE for sheer fun.

“I dunno. Maybe it’s because I’m not a dick.”

I think that pretty much covers it.

I like it when people mention Chanukah, or other less-familiar holidays. Who cares if it’s just a small portion of the population? They’re still a portion of the population, and just as good a portion as any of the larger ones. And I think that bringing up additional holidays is a better practise than disguising Christmas as some generic holiday that doesn’t mean anything.
Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Happy Pagan Yule, and if any Muslim or Buddhist or Hindu holidays, or any others, are occuring now as well, then best wishes for those, too!

(Actually, Chanukah’s been over for several days already, but that shouldn’t matter.)

I’ve always thought we should bring back Saturnalia as a winter (well, really summer) holiday, if only for the name.

Christmas with the Superheroes #2

Highlight — Deadman meets the ghost of pre-Crisis Supergirl by Alan Brennert and Dick Giordano.

But it’s a great package overall — unlike a lot of anthologies that pad one or two good stories with a lot of junk, every story is a good read, even the Batman one that is reviewed poorly below.

http://www.supermanhomepage.com/comics/comics.php?topic=special-reports/christmas2

“Christmas With The Super-Heroes #2

In the second Christmas With The Super-Heroes (cover dated 1989), Mark Waid presents 6 new tales. Only the first and last have a Superman connection, but all of the stories are enjoyable.

In “Ex Machina”, a motorist is stranded in a snowstorm and, suffering from the cold, prepares to commit suicide. Superman arrives and uses his heat vision to warm the man and the car engine. Paul Chadwick (story/pencils; with John Nyber inking) writes an unusual Superman story as the two converse about the things that have driven this man to consider taking his own life. The man talks about his medical condition and his estrangement from his daughter. Superman tells him, “listen, I don’t mean to preach here, but there’s one thing I know. No person who’s lost his, or her, parents wouldn’t like to get them back. Even one of them. This is something I know.”

He urges the man to call his daughter saying, “My friend, your disease is a long, hard way to go. Nobody should die alone in this world. If not for yourself, do it for me.” Before he leaves, Superman gives the man directions to visit some friends that will give him a good Christmas dinner. He adds, “They’re good folks. They helped me out after I had some trouble in space one time.” Superman flies off as the man drives toward the Smallville exit.

The Batman story by Dave Gibbons is a depressing look at Batman’s lonely life, and the story isn’t helped by the murky art of Gray Morrow.

The Wonder Woman tale by Eric Shanower (story/art) is interesting as Diana converses about her beliefs and gods with a female pastor whose husband has had an affair and asked for a divorce. The pastor’s beliefs are shaken, especially after a conversation with Diana about her Olympian gods. The pastor sees a less confident Diana on Christmas Eve. Diana is “reflecting on what I’ve accomplished … and what I haven’t” and says, “Though my gods have helped me in the past, sometimes they have been cruel. Now I feel abandoned by them. I don’t understand anymore. I don’t know who or what to believe.”

The pastor asks what she believes in, and Diana answers, “love and peace and truth”. The pastor counsels her to hold fast to those beliefs and they will sustain her. Someone will hear her message and good will grow. “If it weren’t so difficult, the good wouldn’t be that important.” The conversation acts as a catharsis, helping both women with their individual faiths and beliefs.

Next is a wordless story about Baron Von Hammer, the German WWI flying ace called the Hammer of Hell, who brings supplies to his enemies on Christmas Day. Written and penciled by John Byrne, it’s the finished art by Andy Kubert that gives it the look of the original stories by Bob Kahniger and Joe Kubert.

The Silver Age Flash and Green Lantern star in the next story, written by Bill Loebs, with art by Colleen Doran and Ty Templeton. As Barry and Hal finish monitor duty on the JLA satellite, they decide to visit a small town for an old-fashioned Christmas. It’s a Scrooge type story, as they meet a disillusioned rich man named CB Fenster who offers five million dollars to anyone who can prove that Santa Claus exists in that town.

GL’s ring creates the sleigh, Flash plays the reindeer, and Fenster is forced unwillingly to play the role of Santa. There’s lots of Silver Age fun as GL squeezes Santa down chimneys. We meet some lonely and sad residents of the town and, as befits a Christmas story, all ends well when GL and Flash find Santa by having Fenster look at his reflection. Wearing their Santa hats, Hal ends with “Happy Hanukkah, Flash” and Barry replies, “And a Merry Christmas to you, pal.”

As good as these stories are, the gem of the issue is the last one, a Deadman story titled, “Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot” written by Alan Brennert with art by Dick Giordano. It’s a poignant tale, as Deadman inhabits other bodies to send presents to friends he can’t bring himself to visit. He decides to experience the holiday through a young man’s eyes (and body), until he realizes he is stealing his host’s Christmas.

Deadman flees, angry and full of self-loathing, until a lovely, blond woman starts talking to him. Since Deadman can’t ordinarily be seen by humans, he tries to find out who she is. She turns the conversation around and asks if the reason he is angry is that no one knows what he has done on their behalf. She then removes Deadman’s mask to speak to the man behind it, Boston Brand.

She tells him, “We don’t do it for the glory. We don’t do it for the recognition. We do it because it needs to be done. Because if we don’t, no one else will. And we do it even if no one knows what we’ve done. Even if no one knows we exist. Even if no one remembers that we ever existed.”

Boston apologizes for how he has acted and the woman tells him not to because, “you’re only human. You are still human, Boston. Don’t be ashamed of it. Rejoice in it. Because it means your spirit — as flawed or selfish as our spirits can sometimes be — is still alive.” As she turns to leave, Boston asks her name. She tells him and says, “though I doubt that’ll mean anything to you.” Boston replies, “Merry Christmas, Kara. Whoever you are.” The story is dedicated to Supergirl scribes, Otto Binder and Jim Mooney, with the inscription, “We still remember”.

Happy Holidays Everyone!”

Nonsense as expected. By the rationale of you folks a “specia 3 percent of the population”‘s vote in an election should count for 50 percent of the entire vote.

Jersey— Wait, are you saying that holidays are chosen by majority vote? That was the issue we were talking about. So if more than 50% prefer Christmas, then Chanukah is to be ignored, right? Okay, you may have a valid point.
Anyway, since this is a comics-fan site, we should all vote now for which books are good, and you Steve can only read the ones which more than 50% of us vote for. That is the fair way to do it, as you have so clearly demonstrated.

Holy frickin’ crap.
All that’s missing is an “I have nothing against those people, but…” type disclaimer, which I’m sure could still pop up if this continues.
Still, it could be worse, I suppose, like getting stuck next to a psycho like this on the bus or similar situation, where all you can do is glance around uncomfortably and hope that he doesn’t start getting all weirdly aggressive or something…

since this is a comics-fan site, we should all vote now for which books are good

I don’t think you go far enough Mary. As regular comic readers make up less then 1% of world population then we shouldn’t read comics at all. In fact we should only enjoy the works of popular culture that over 50% of the world’s population can enjoy, which would be precisely nothing. Which would be no fun, but it would apparently be democratic.

Wow. I clicked on this link to read Bill’s Christmas/holiday comics tips, and instead I stumble across the bizarre non-sequitur grumblings of an anti-Semitic fool. But it’s heartening to see a lot of people talking sense in response.

Also, @Adam: You totally make me want to hunt down a copy of that Christmas with the Super-Heroes comic.

Steve Jersey,

The Holidays aren’t a contest.

Thanks for the plug, Bill!

@Rebis “You totally make me want to hunt down a copy of that Christmas with the Super-Heroes comic.”

Do it, you’ll never regret it!

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