Monday, December 21, 2015

MARVEL HOLIDAY SPECIAL 1993

Happy holidays!  This time we're going to look at something a little different, but not too different.  Marvel Holiday Special 1993 was an anthology book that featured several Christmas and Chanukkah themed stories.  Well, kinda.  They are set during and around those holidays, anyway.  Either way, the point was you could get multiple stories for a lower price and still enjoy them around the holidays.





"Zounds O' Silence"
WRITER: Larry Hama
PENCILER: Michael Golden
INKER: Michael Golden
COLORIST: Michael Golden
LETTERER: none







SYNOPSIS: Wolverine hacks and slashes his way through an onslaught of monsters, robots and more. He suffers damage throughout the battle, barely holding his own until finally he is blasted with flames that scorch the flesh from his adamantium bones.  Cut to a store's discount toy display that has been wrecked with a mother scolding her son, pulling him away. Toy Wolverine lies motionless and then suddenly pops his claws.

MY THOUGHTS: This story is amazingly metatextual for the time (and is not the only one in this issue either).  The use of the revelation that Wolverine is just a toy harkens back to the Twilight Zone episode "Five Characters in Search of an Exit."  It's important to remember that the Toy Biz X-Men line was a huge seller at this time, so Mr. Hama is making a pretty cute joke here, too.

Larry Hama is easily the master of "silent" stories, as seen in his work on G. I. Joe.  Michael Golden's art does not disappoint and he does an amazing job switching between comic Logan and toy Logan.




"Present Tense"
WRITER: Fabian Nicieza
PENCILER: Darick Robertson
INKER: Larry Mahlstedt
COLORIST: Joe Rosas
LETTERER: Brad Joyce







SYNOPSIS: It's Christmas Eve and Night Thrasher and Silhouette are out fighting off muggers while the rest of the New Warriors are involved in their own personal affairs. Speedball and Rage engage in some last minute shopping, Firestar calls Marvel Boy in prison, Nova visits his girlfriend and Namorita just kinda does Namorita-type stuff.  They all get together at their headquarters for a "family" holiday celebration.

MY THOUGHTS: This one is kind of a slice of life tale. There is a cute metatextual joke about Speedball buying his dad a talking Venom figure. Mostly, though, this is a good tale about how a disparate group of people like the New Warriors can be thankful for the companionship they have together.  There are some really nice moments that encourage the readers to be thankful for who they have and not necessarily what they have.  A nice message indeed.

Nicieza doesn't really stray too far from the typical New Warriors story here, with the exception of minimal costumed activities.  The art, while nothing too striking, it pretty much Marvel's house style for the time.  It sticks closely to the New Warriors book style, so no real highlights but no real complaints.
By the way, yes Shagg Namorita and Firestar are hot. Thanks for noticing.


"The Big X-Mas Blowout"
WRITER: Stan Lee and Richard Howell
PENCILER: Steve Lightle
INKER: Al Milgrom
COLORIST: Renee Witterstaetter
LETTERER: John Costanza







SYNOPSIS: Peter Parker is running late to meet up with Mary-Jane. Electro shows up and starts draining electricity all around NYC.  Spider-man has to leap into action to stop him.

MY THOUGHTS:  Pretty standard Spidey story here, especially when you realize it is a joint effort between Richard Howell and Stan "the Man" Lee.  Yes, folks, you get the feel of some '60s Spider-man stories here.  It's not one that will forever stick with you, but it's still a fun little romp.

The art isn't bad at all. I had forgotten this was the era of the Spider-mullet, though.  Sigh.  And yet, somehow Peter pulled it off then.  Oh, early '90s...


"In the Spirit of the Season"
WRITER: Carl Potts
PENCILER: Rik Levins
INKER: Al Milgrom
COLORIST: Paty Cockrum
LETTERER: Brad Joyce







SYNOPSIS:  Micro asks the Punisher to not do anything violent for 48 hours during Christmas time.  The Punisher still fights crime, but in a way where he does not actively cause anything violent to occur.

MY THOUGHTS:  There are Punisher Christmas stories? What's next, a Twisted Sister Christmas album?  Oh, there was? Years before this you say? Well, nevermind then.  *ahem*

The story itself is pretty cute. You see Frank and Micro bicker like an old married couple, you see Frank dress up like Santa to catch a thief and you even see him more or less non-violently get a major criminal arrested.

The art is pretty decent, but again pretty much Marvel house style and not anything worth writing home about.  It's nice, but no real standout panels.

"Revisionist History"
WRITER: Peter David
PENCILER: John Hebert
INKER: Mike DeCarlo
COLORIST: Glynis Oliver
LETTERER: Brad Joyce







SYNOPSIS:  Dr. Samson has been asked to come to his old Hebrew School and tell the students the story of Chanukkah and why it is celebrated. The students ask odd questions and gets bored, so he decides to tell a livelier version of the tale.  Hilarity ensues.

MY THOUGHTS:  No, really, HILARITY ensues.  This is the comic relief story here, but I'll be damned if it doesn't deliver that promise ten times over.  Peter David's story (which seems to be based on somewhat true events) allows Samson to exchange the facts for more creative details, like saying there were androids and advanced weaponry in the story.  The cutest details are when Wolverine and the Hulk show up to help the Jews fight and the fact that they try to light the lamps with motor oil.

The art is wonderful.  It flows from serious comic book superheroes to slapstick elements to distraught children when Samson finally answers them on why Jews don't have Santa.

Trust me when I say that this and the following story are the entire reason to buy the book if nothing else.


"Yule Memory"
WRITER: Jim Starlin
PENCILER: Ron Lim
INKER: Terry Austin
COLORIST: Tom Vincent
LETTERER: Brad Joyce







SYNOPSIS: While cleaning out some old storage, Thanos comes across a doll that once belonged to Gamora when she was a child. He recounts the tale of her upbringing involving the doll, including the time she saved his life from an assassination attempt by throwing the doll at the attacker. The doll got damaged in the process and he rewards her for saving his life. After the story Thanos tells his robots to dispose of the doll and Thanos becomes angered that he was once merciful and that he still feels anything other than hatred for a memory.

MY THOUGHTS:  Aside from the stuff about presents this story really doesn't have a lot to do with holiday-type stuff, but damn it all to hell if this story won't make you cry!  When it comes to stories about Marvel's space characters Jim Starlin and Ron Lim are exactly who you want handling the script and art.

So many touching moments.  Thanos tells Gamora that he is far too busy to bother going to the lagoon with Gamora when she asks. After she saves him he changes his mind and tells her to get ready. But the true moment comes from Gamora and her doll.  Really, folks, every damn time I read this one I tear up when young Gamora cradles her damaged doll. Thanos offers to replace it with a new one but she just fights back her own tears and meekly tells him that her dolly will be OK. Excuse me.  Sniffle.


"Holiday on Ice"
WRITER: Sholly Fisch
PENCILER: Tom Morgan
INKER: Tom Morgan
COLORIST: Ed Lazellari
LETTERER: Brad Joyce







SYNOPSIS: Near Christmas, an ex-con attempts to find work, but his background keeps him from it. He puts on a colleagues old Blizzard costume and tries his hand at villainy. Iron Man tries to stop him, but after learning the whole story decides to give the ex-con a job at Stark Industries.

MY THOUGHTS:  This is a pretty sweet little story.  There are some cute moments and a nice message.  The art is actually a little bulky.  I mean the characters.  They are are far too large to be convincing, but I guess proportions aren't everything, right?  Over all, this one is about on the same level as the Spider-man one above--they are OK stories, but largely forgettable.  Although, this one does have a pretty clever closing panel.


"Rapt Lamb"
WRITER: Ann Nocenti
PENCILER: Tom Grindberg
INKER: Fred Fredricks
COLORIST: Evelyn Stein
LETTERER: Brad Joyce







SYNOPSIS:  Daredevil is trying his best to deliver a toy to charity for Christmas, but keeps having to stop along the way to do the hero thing. The entire story is told from the point of view of the tiny toy lamb.

MY THOUGHTS:  This story is pretty darn clever.  The lamb tells us all sorts of wonderful observations throughout the adventure.  Daredevil's staunch Catholicism comes through beautifully in this story and in the fact that he wants to give an innocent lamb for Christmas, an allegory for the birth of Christ.  I am forever confused on the reaction of the lady who takes the gift on behalf of charity, though. I can never tell if she thinks it is a lovely gift or that she doesn't understand the gesture and instead expects him to bring toys.

The art, once again, is strongly Marvel house style.  It isn't a bad thing.  Everything flows pretty smoothly, and remember we are experiencing the adventure with the lamb, not Daredevil.


OVERALL:  Brad Joyce probably paid for all his presents with this one issue. OK, probably not, but he did get tons of lettering work. Wow.

Don't expect too much bang for you buck here, but you still get what you paid for and more.  Aside from the stories there were pin-ups of various series.  The majority of the house style art is pretty much expected, especially in an anthology book like this.  Many of these stories were pretty much "Hey, I need you people to write me some holiday pages for these characters. Go go go!"  It's a cash grab, but a lot of the stories tell a message so I am OK with it.  I hope that some of you out there had this book and enjoyed the stories as much as I did.  Over the years I have come to appreciate some of them for different reasons, but they will all always be worth reading and rereading in years to come, even if just to enjoy the memories.
Oh, and in case you hadn't guessed, HAPPY HOLIDAYS to all of you out there from the Coffee & Comics Blog.  I am so very thankful for each and every one of you who take the time to read my words, so all the best to you and yours these days and all the others too.

3 comments:

  1. What a fantastic round-up. I can see myself enjoying lots here, especially PAD's. I've never liked Thanos but who knows... And I never realised Sholly Fisch had been around so long. Happy Christmas!

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    1. Here's hoping your local back issue bins have a copy. I also highly recommend the 1992 special. Both are easily worth the dollar (or quid or whatever) that a local shop is probably charging (if not lower). Happy Christmas to you as well sir and happy hunting.

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