Christmas Special: A Brief Word From Superman

Sorry kids, but the time-honored tradition of the Christmas Party trumps the Internet’s need for comics reviews tonight, so gimme a break here: It’s Christmas!

And besides, as hard as it might be to believe, there are things to consider this time of year that are slightly more important than the new issue of Iron Fist. Superman, if you’ll do the honors?



The ISB’s Favorite Charities:


Child’s Play: Helping children through the power of fun.

Reach Out And Read: Making the world a better place by teaching kids to read.

And of course…

The American Red Cross: Kicking the United Way’s ass since 1887.

Christmas Special: A Friendly Reminder From the Amazing Joy Buzzards



And that means you, Supergirl.


More information on the mystical luchadore known only as El Campeon can be found in Smith and Hipp’s Amazing Joy Buzzards, but for the story of how El Campeon rescued Santa from the talons of Black Peter–and their quest for the tag team championship in 1951–you’ll need the 2005 Image Holiday Special. Which, just so you know, also includes a Godland story, a one-page gag strip by Friend of the ISB Benito Cereno, a G-Man strip by Chris Giarrusso, and of course, girl-on-girl holiday makeouts!

Christmas Special: Season’s Greetings from J. Jonah Jameson!

All the staff at the Bugle liked Christmas a lot,
But Jonah, who signed all their paychecks, did not.

JJJ hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season,
And not even Robbie really quite knew the reason!

Perhaps it was just the cigars that he smokes?
Or maybe he’s really the meanest of blokes!

But no matter why, children, for as we’ll all soon see,
It’s in ruining Christmas where Jonah finds glee!

It starts at the party–much like most office crises–
With a group of lost children, fresh in from the ices!

Poor Miss Brant was elected as their de facto sitter,
Then a mention of Spidey set the kids all a-twitter!

“Kids?! In MY office?!” Jonah said with a growl,
“I’ll stop them from loving that menace… but.. how?”









…And that’s what made this Jonah’s best Christmas ever.


For the scenes shown above (and lots more Yuletide fun), you should check out Spider-Man’s Tangled Web twenty-one! As you can all see, it’s a heck of a book, by the team of J. Bone and–of course!–Darwyn Cooke!

Christmas Special: Santa Claus Must Die!

If you were around for last year’s round of ISB Christmas Cheer, you might recall that I celebrated my favorite holiday by throwing the spotlight on what I termed the Wildly Inappropriate Christmas Special, a theme that brought us both Tarot’s horrifying, naked romp through the snow and Batman shouting that his parents deserved to die, and I’m pretty sure those captured exactly what I was looking for.

This year, though, I decided to go in a bit of a different direction, and bring you holiday comics that I actually really love. It’s a pretty abrupt change, I know, but fortunately, I’ve found something that might make the transition a little easier.

After all…



…this one’s awesome and wildly inappropriate!

Or at least, that’s the way it looks on the surface. Given my well-documented love of Santa Claus, it might be a little surprising that one of my all-time favorite holiday comics has the Jolly Old Elf in imminent danger of swallowing a .45 caliber slug right on the cover, but that’s until you take a moment to recall that this is an issue of Garth Ennis and John McCrea’s Hitman.

Hitman, for those of you not in the know, is Ennis’s finest work, and considering the body of work that guy’s put out over the years, that’s saying something.

And besides, unless I missed a crucial scene in one of the Rankin & Bass cartoons, I don’t think the real Santa’s a shambling radioactive horror.



Come to think of it, this premise might require some explanation.

One of the recurring elements of the series that’s sadly fallen by the wayside since it ended at #60 is the way that heavy industries–usually in the form of Injun Peak Research Facility, a low-rent STAR Labs where the experiments were always resulting in the kind of accidents resulting in super-powers and an unquenchable thirst for revenge–were always giving rise to super-villains, to the point where they kept hitmen on speed dial to clean up their messes before they ended up destroying a huge chunk of Gotham City.

Thus, disgruntled janitor Bob Smurd takes a header into a vat of nuclear waste down at the power plant, and, well, see for yourself:




Did I mention that Ennis does the narration entirely in faux-Grinchian rhyme? It’s beautiful.

Anyway, needless to say, a crazed, super-powered St. Nick rolling around town blowing up last-minute shoppers on Christmas Eve is bad for everybody, so the guys at the plant do the same thing the Injun Peak boys did when they accidentally turned the entire animal population of the Gotham City Aquarium into zombies: They call Tommy Monaghan.



I mentioned the rhyming, right?



Man. I love this comic book.

So Tommy and his partner, Natt the Hat, commence tearing around Gotham on Christmas Eve, rolling up on every Santa they can find and checking them out with a geiger counter until they finally find the guy they’re looking for, which, seeing as he’s rampaging through a mall on a yuletide murder spree, isn’t as difficult as you might think.

Of course, a rampaging super-Grinch presents a whole different set of problems once you actually find him, what with all the super-strength and radioactive eye-beams and such.

Once you hit ’em with a car, however…



…they tend to go a little more quietly.

Thus, in an ending befitting one of the greatest Christmas comics of all time, Tommy and Natt ram him through a brick wall and, despite the fact that Bob pleads for mercy–and because of the fact that his pleas are lifted from Blade Runner–they gun him down, collect their fee, and buy presents.

But that’s not really what makes this one so great. No, like all Christmas stories, this one’s got a moral, and that’s where Ennis and McCrea truly shine:



And that, my friends, is the true meaning of Christmas.

Well, for me, anyway.

Maximum Clonage, Part Two: Spidey vs. Webby!

Last time, we saw the roots of Dr. Doom’s latest terrifying plot to take over the world by creating a reasonably stupid clone of Spider-Man. But what happens when it meets the genuine article?

And now, your Spidey Super Stories Moment of Joy for tonight:









Of course, you can see how it all works out for yourselves in the pages of Spidey Super Stories #25, but come on: That’s like peeking at your present before Christmas!

Christmas Special: A Holiday Treat

I don’t normally do this sort of thing for a variety of reasons, but what the heck? It’s Christmas!

So in the spirit of giving, here’s one of my all-time favorite holiday specials in its entirety: The four-page saga of “The Night Prowler” from House of Mystery #119–reprinted for your enjoyment in the wonderful DC Universe Christmas trade paperback–by the team that brought you Swamp Thing, Len Wein and Berni Wrightson.



(Click for larger images)