Sunday, December 18, 2016
Big Dumb Lists: Ten Naughty and Nice Christmas Comics
It's that time of year again and being an adult, I miss the agonizing stretch in December a kid writhes through in wait for Christmas Day. Being a grown-up, the countdown to Christmas flies, to the point children cannot understand why we panic, rush and miss the glory and moreover, the fun of the season. We decorate and we pause just enough to admire our festive handiwork before making out our guest lists, party menus and of course, the mad dashes to accumulate presents--hopefully at genuine discounts, since you have to do proper math to make sure the stocking wool's not being pulled over your eyes by humbug retailers. In this zany digital age, the new urgency (beyond the looming question mark of potential Christmas bonuses) is to click and shop for gifts with calculations of timely arrivals upon our doorsteps. It's a new dynamic and Santa himself must be leery of Amazon's upcoming drones, no doubt one of them bearing the nickname "Rudolph" to spite.
Being that I'm obsessed with comics, Christmas gives me the opportunity (like Halloween) to dig around for holiday-themed books and ease the tension of a season that once gave me weeks of joy. Nowadays, December makes me fear I'm going to miss watching Christmas Vacation for the third year in a row because one, it's too inappropriate at times for little ones and two, we all expect that proverbial magic of the season to erase the grind of life. Life doesn't stop just because Nat King Cole's waxing nostalgic about chestnuts on an open fire over the radio, his slow tempo all but ordering us to jerk the cogs of our spinning wheels to a blissful crawl.
So here are a bunch of Christmas comics, some naughty and some nice. Some are borderline like Ambush Bug: Stocking Stuffer, Elvira's Haunted Holidays or even Batman # 239. Some are outright funny and some force us to realize bad guys do their damnedest to destroy people's holiday seasons for their own selfish reasons...all of it being yuletide escapism to chase off those sugar plum fairies nagging at us to buy just one more gift for someone who inadvertently missed the cut. As I flagged in my post about 2016's comics that rocked me, Grant Morrison's Klaus miniseries was all the adventure and spectacle you could ask for in a comic--with tremendous heart, to-boot. You'll want to go get that extra pestering gift after reading Klaus.
Let's start with ten hitting the nice list:
1. Captain Marvel Adventures # 19: Helping Santa faster than you can say "SHAZAM!" times two...
2. Batman # 45: Let's spread some holiday cheer, chum!
3. Avengers Annual # 1 (2013): A wonderful and hilarious holiday-themed respite from the strenuous and frankly boring "Infinity" story line.
4. Action Comics # 105: Because Santa needs a little Kryptonian nudge at certain chimneys after scarfing bucket loads of sugar cookies all night.
5. Archie Giant Series # 512: Archie's Christmas Stocking: Even ginger swingers can have the best of both worlds to warm his hearth.
6. The Tick: Big Red 'n Green Christmas Spectacle: He's a bumbling buffoon, but never question Tick's big heart.
7. Christmas With the Super-Heroes # 2: Don't you wish your office party was this high profile? Someone had better put Mera on alert, though; methinks Aquaman has other designs in mind, using that toy wagon as his cover.
8. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles # 65: Mikey's Christmas spectacular was indeed that. Cowabunga and then some.
9. Sgt. Rock # 414: Once in a while, beauty and a truce between enemies in the holiday spirit does resonate.
10. Marvel Holiday Special # 1: Read it with the Brian Setzer Orchestra's Boogie Woogie Christmas spinning and you'll get ripe in the mood.
Aaaaaaaand...the naughty list:
1. The Vault of Horror # 35: For better or worse, here is where the killer Santa genre was founded. The ending of "And All Through the House" still packs a wallop, no matter how many times you've read it or seen the Tales from the Crypt t.v. adaptation.
2. Panic # 1: Ah, those rubes back in the day at EC Comics. Tell me this cover didn't leave scars upon you the first time you saw it.
3. Spectacular Spider-Man # 112: This one did a number on me back in the day. St. Nick The Terminator on the cover, Peter Parker thwarting a store Santa stalker...and the most gratuitous (non-superhero) butt close-ups in a single issue for its time.
4. Flash # 87: And bah humbug to you too, jerks.
5. Iron Man # 254: Spymaster as Santa Claus...you dirty bastard.
6. Grimm Fairy Tales 2011 Holiday Edition: Now you know what Robert Brian Wilson from Silent Night, Deadly Night would say: "NAUUUUUGHTYYYY!"
7. Jonah Hex # 34: Speaking of orphanages gone wrong during the holidays, even Santa needs an enforcer to negate the evil tidings of Santa impostors.
8. JLA # 60: Seriously? That's just wrong. A parental nightmare trying to explain this visual to a youngster tripping across it.
9. Spawn # 39: And this image (pun intended, heh) would give anybody nightmares, maybe even the Pumpkin King himself.
10. Avengers # 24 (variant cover): I don't care what it may look like; Deadpool is never up to any good.