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Comics 411: Favorite Comic Book Holiday Stories

December 21, 2022 | Posted by Steve Gustafson
Comic Book Holiday Stories Batman Robin Santa Image Credit: DC Comics

Welcome back! I’m Steve Gustafson and if you enjoy discussing anything comic book related, you’ve come to the right place. Each week we cover something in the industry and I always enjoy your input in the comment section below.

Previously on…

Last time we asked Is the Amalgam Universe Coming Back?. Here’s what some of you had to say:

Madness74: “I was out of comics from 93-98. Growing up, job, marriage, kid, etc.. I remember seeing this series at walden books on the comic spinner…remember those?! I am interested to read it now.Ultimate Spider-Man got me back into comics whatever year that was.”

Wrestling Fan: “Thanks to the good folk of eBay, I recently picked up the full run of Marvel vs DC, including all the Amalgam books and the Access minis. First time I’ve read them in at least 15 years, and my god, I still loved them. They’re a time capsule look at the way both companies were innovating at the time, while also being some great storytelling that has held up to the test of time.
The Amalgam books, especially, were great stories with some wonderfully executed hero concepts. Dark Claw in particular went places that you absolutely wouldn’t have expected from a combined Wolverine and Batman.
Once I saw that mention in Big Bang, is made me really hope that we get to see a return to that combined universe. Plus, now that DC has Wildstorm, and Spawn is teaming up with Batman again, the potential for new amalgamated characters is unlimited.”

Wheeljack84: “I’ve wanted action figures of the Amalgam-verse for a long time. Make it happen Toddie Mac and Hasbro.”

Prez Gar: “I’d just love for Marvel to do intercompany Crossovers again in general, not just specifically with DC to make more Amalgam. Disney has kept them on a shrt leash since the buyout.

I personally have all the Amalgam issues. I thought it was interesting that in DC vs Marvel, they were teasing a romance between Tim Drake Robin and Jubilee, and then Amalgamated them into one character, Sparrow. Imagine the two of them catching up now. Tim’s bi, Jubilee’s an ex-vampire with a kid.”

Erick Rowan’s Beard: “To sort of get the overall story of the Amalgam Universe, you have to read the DC vs. Marvel crossover that came out in 1996.

Essentially, there are two “brothers” and each “brother” represents the entire multiverse, omniverse or whatever of Marvel and DC respectively. The “brothers” initially had no idea the other existed and while I forget the details exactly, they became aware of one another and got pissed off because now they were no longer “unique.” The power of each “brother” is beyond vast, with beings like the Spectre and Living Tribunal possessing only a minute fraction of their powers.

Rather than fighting themselves, which would result in destroying everything, various super powered beings from each universe would face each other in battle. The rules were that once a combatant was immobilized for a handful of seconds, the fight was over, as some of the beings were so powerful that they could potentially fight one another indefinitely. The battles were as follows, with the winner in bold:

[B]Aquaman[/B] vs. Namor
[B]Silver Surfer[/B] vs. the Green Lantern (Kyle Rayner)
[B]Robin[/B] vs. Jubilee
[B]Elektra[/B] vs. Catwoman
[B]Thor[/B] vs. Shazam (known as Captain Marvel at this time.)

These battles were sort of the preliminary fights with each side claiming three victories. There were five other fights, with the outcomes ultimately being determined by fan vote:

[B]Superman[/B] vs. the Incredible Hulk (the “Professor” personality)
[B]Wolverine[/B] (without the adamantium skeleton or claws) vs. Lobo
[B]Storm[/B] vs. Wonder Woman
[B]Batman[/B] vs. Captain America
[B]Spider-Man[/B] (Ben Reilly) vs. Superboy (Kon-El, teenage Superman clone)

I forget the details, but Marvel ultimately won the most fights via fan vote, but something happened involving a character named Access and the intervention of the Living Tribunal and Spectre. Rather than the DC Universe being destroyed, the two were combined to form a completely different existence.

It’s just kinda unfortunate that the DC vs. Marvel crossover isn’t considered canon by either company as it’s a fun concept.”

Too many great comments to list! Thank you to everyone who commented last week!

This week we discuss…

Favorite Comic Book Holiday Stories 

When it comes to Christmas stories, comic book fans can usually put aside their differences and relish in a good ole fashion tale of hope, heroism, and overcoming the odds. Christmas stories always stuck out to me because the best ones usually involved our favorite heroes and villains in a situation outside the norm. And the question of Santa’s existence was always debated. To me, that was always funny because these were people dressed up in costumes with crazy powers talking about if a man in a red suit and delivering presents to kids was real. Only in comic books.

Whenever someone mentions Christmas themed comics, my first thought usually goes to Lobo: Paramilitary Christmas Special #1. This is one crazy stand-alone comic that has the Easter Bunny hiring Lobo, an intergalactic bounty hunter, to kill Santa Claus. It’s as bloody as you can imagine and the perfect gift for that “odd” person on your list.

Speaking of violence, I have to include The Goon #10. Often overlooked and forgotten, the cast of The Goon perform their version of the holiday classic, ‘A Christmas Carol’. With a twist. It’s a tale about a deadbeat dad who’s always late for work and refuses to work on Christmas to provide his invalid son with proper medical attention. It wouldn’t be a yuletide treat if it didn’t have three ghosts visit and “inspire” an old rich guy into paying for the medical expenses. In case you needed more incentive to seek this one out, it won the 2004 Eisner Award for Best Single Issue.

‘The Santa Contract’ from Hitman #22 from the minds of Garth Ennis, John McCrea, and Steve Pugh is told in Dr. Seuss Grinch prose. Violent, twisted, and filled with Ennis humor. The perfect issue for those who want a non-traditional Christmas story.

If you need another example of non-traditional, if you’ve ever wanted to see Santa Claus take on Darkseid, seek out the DCU Holiday Bash II from 1998. It’s only two pages but it’s better than a piece of coal in your stocking. If you’re looking for a story that’s always overlooked, pick up Starman #27 and enjoy ‘Christmas Knight’ by the fire.

Switching things to a more traditional take, DC Special Series #21, ‘Wanted: Santa Claus: Dead or Alive’ may be my personal favorite. Actually, this makes a lot of “Best Lists” and with good reason. Not only does Batman knock a dude out by throwing a Christmas tree at him (Seriously), this was Frank Miller’s first time working with Batman. Frank was 23 at the time but you could see the seeds of his future here. Or maybe I’m reading too much into it.

Superman: Peace on Earth is a beautiful read that’s set during the holiday season and Clark Kent reflects on the poverty suffered by so many throughout the world and decides to use his vast power to feed the starving and impoverished masses. But as Superman sets out to accomplish the impossible, he encounters unexpected resistance to his humanitarian efforts. Great stuff.

Another personal favorite of mine is 1995’s The Batman Adventures Holiday Special. It’s a simple tale from Paul Dini and Ronnie Del Carmen and was even made into an animated episode. Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn get into some shenanigans when Ivy hypnotizes Bruce Wayne with a poisoned kiss. Which seems to happen a lot to poor Bruce. Batman saves the day but not before a massive shopping spree is committed on his credit card.

Moving on, the only thing I have to say about the story ‘Yes, Tyrone, There Is a Santa Claus’ from the DC Infinite Holiday Special is: Batman with a jetpack and Bat-Santa.

Batman’s had a number of adventures during the season and it’s hard to pick just a few but back in 1970, Batman #219 is a feel good tale of joy. No, really. ‘The Silent Night of Batman’ is about the villains in Gotham taking a break from robbing and committing crimes so Batman can enjoy some peace and quiet. Commissioner Gordon and Bats spend Christmas Eve together and the Dark Knight goes caroling. A far cry from Batman Returns

Keeping with movie sequels, when I saw Spider-Man 3 back in 2007, the Sandman story rang familiar to me. That’s because it was very similar to the very first issue of Marvel Team-Up way back in 1972. Spidey and the Human Torch team up to take up Sandman. It’s pretty basic: The heroes fight Sandman, he gets the upper hand and escapes, they find him…but wait. What’s this? He’s visiting his mother on her deathbed and asks the heroes to help him save face in front of her since she doesn’t know he’s a bad guy. Spider-Man being Spider-Man gives Sandman’s mom the present he bought for his girlfriend. A feel good moment, to be sure. Sandman agrees to go peacefully but escapes while Spidey and Torch talk about doing good deeds in the hall. They aren’t too concerned because it’s the holidays and all.

For the adventurous among you, seek out a short Spider-Man story from Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man Annual #1 called ‘Leah’. A touching story of a young, sick homeless girl that has a lot of love for Spider-Man. The ending will stick with you long after the holidays are over. It’s a wonderful example of the power comic books have.

I enjoy simple tales. Like ‘T’was the Fight Before Xmas’ from Spider-Man’s Tangled Web #21. Peter Parker goes to the mall on Christmas Eve to get something for J. Jonah Jameson’s wife. Crystal, Wasp, and Invisible Woman are also shopping at the mall and Mr. Flash Thompson is there dressed as Spider-Man, selling Spider-Man action figures. Looks like a recipe for Christmas trouble. Puppet Master controls Medusa and Flash and starts causing chaos at the mall (as if he needed them to do that! Christmas Eve at the mall is crazy enough!) and this gets the attention of the Fantastic Four. Bottomline, it’s light-hearted and cartoonish fun.

The Hulk was involved in a few well done stories, one of them being 1990’s ‘Rhino Plastered’ that ran in Incredible Hulk #378. The creative team alone is enough to get your interest with Peter David, Kurt Busiek, Bill Jaaska, and Jeff Albrecht. It’s a flashback tale starring the gray Hulk and the supervillain Rhinoak, who has taken a job as a mall Santa. It has bratty kids, a cool fight between Santa-Rhino and Hulk, and a cheesy ending. Just what you need from a Christmas Special.

You’d think the X-Men would have plenty of Christmas classics (Same thing with the Fantastic Four) but the only two I can really recall are Uncanny X-Men #230 and Uncanny X-Men #340. I wasn’t a big Longshot fan but did like this story in #230 about how he could tell the story of any object he touches. Once he proves it to his teammates by using some stolen merchandise, the team makes it their priority to return the items to the rightful owners. And it happens to be on Christmas. Aww.

In issue #340, Joseph is able to give Rogue a Christmas kiss with the assistance of some power-dampening tech.

Finally, it just isn’t holiday cheer with the Ultimate Warrior’s Christmas Special. I’ll leave it up to you to decide if I’m being serious or not.

Well, I could sit here all day but I’ll turn it over to you all. What holiday tales warm your heart?

That’s all the time I have. See you next week!