Comic Christmas stories
When I say “Christmas special,” you probably think of television, either an annual program headlined by various and sundry celebrities or an episode of a series that airs when December rolls around.
But another episodic medium – comic books – has its share of holiday installments as well.
On many occasions, various heroes and villains have encountered Santa Claus himself. For example, the 1998 “Generation X Holiday Special” finds erstwhile X-Man Jubilee face to face with the jolly old elf as her team takes on Nanny and Orphan-Maker, with a bullied mutant child caught in the middle.
In the 2010 “Green Lantern: Larfleeze Christmas Special,” the greedy Orange Lantern, avatar of avarice, goes looking for St. Nick when he doesn’t get everything on his Christmas list.
Superstar writer Grant Morrison made Santa into a superhero with “Klaus,” a story that draws on the Viking and Siberian roots of the character and recasts him as a sword-wielding warrior. If you’re not familiar with Morrison’s work, trust me, this wouldn’t make the top five list of bizarre things he’s done.
The X-Men stepped into Santa’s boots in one of my personal favorite yuletide tales, “Twas the Night,” in “Uncanny X-Men” #230.
Having recently taken over the Australian Outback base of the cybernetic Reavers, the team discovers a load of stolen items the villains had hoarded over the years. Using Longshot’s power to read the psychic imprints left on objects and the mysterious Gateway’s teleportational abilities, the team returns most of the loot … on Christmas Eve.
If that seems a little too sweet for you, there are plenty of comics that go in the opposite direction. Perhaps the mainstream epitome of that is 1991’s “Lobo Paramilitary Christmas Special,” the cover of which features the Czarnian bounty hunter standing over a battered and wounded Santa. The ultraviolent Lobo, admittedly a satire on the violent comics of the time, has never been my cup of tea, but News Editor Terry Estep assures me it was “funny and disturbing on many, many levels.”
My most memorable comic Christmas story has less to do with Santa Claus than the namesake of the holiday. Sort of.
In 1974’s “Marvel Two-in-One” #8, Howard the Duck creator Steve Gerber penned “Silent Night … Deadly Night,” which completely lives up to its billing on the cover as “Easily the most off-beat holiday extravaganza of them all.”
Giving the perpetually busy Mister Fantastic the night of Christmas Eve off to spend with his family, the Thing goes to Arizona to investigate strange happenings at a Native American reservation in Arizona that’s home to longtime Fantastic Four ally Wyatt Wingfoot. The Thing stumbles upon Ghost Rider – perhaps the least Christmas-y “hero” this side of Lobo – and they discover a plot by obscure FF villain Miracle Man to take over the world by recreating the Nativity on the reservation.
A theological scholar Miracle Man is not. But like so many Gerber stories, it’s a weirdly fun experience.
Evan Bevins is the writer of the webcomic “Support Group.”