Pretty much everyone in the entertainment business tries to cash in — I mean celebrate — the holiday season. There are Christmas movies, Christmas albums and most TV shows air holiday themed episodes this month. So it will come as no surprise to learn that comic book publishers also engage in the practice.
The first Christmas-related comic I remember was “The Man Who Murdered Santa Claus” (cheery title, right?) from a 1974 issue of Justice League. I don’t remember anything about the story and I no longer have my copy. I’m sure the League brought the murderer to justice (that is their job after all). It probably wasn’t the real Santa anyway. At least I hope it wasn’t.
The oldest Christmas comic in my collection is the Marvel Treasury Edition Giant Superhero Holiday Grab-Bag from 1976. It cost a whopping $1.50 and I can’t believe my parents let me buy it. I suspect my dad had nothing to do with it and mom was always a softie. Besides, it was Christmas.
The book reprinted four comics that had nothing to do with Christmas, but there was a framing sequence tying them together that followed the holiday theme. I think I bought it primarily for the Avengers story.
You wouldn’t think Batman would be the subject of many holiday stories — what with him being all dark knighty — but there have probably been more Christmas Batman stories than any other superhero.
Perhaps the best known of the bunch is “Silent Night of the Batman,” another 70s-era story in which the Caped Crusader spends the night singing carols with the night shift at the Gotham City Police Department (yes, Batman used to be in good with the GCPD. Simpler times.) while waiting for emergency calls to come in. But none do because there’s no crime on Christmas Eve — not even in Gotham City!
Yes, it’s ridiculously corny, but aren’t all Christmas specials?
This week a new comic was added to my holiday reading list. It’s always a good thing when new things come along that are worthy of being added to one’s Christmas traditions.
I’m referring to the sixth issue of hawkeye, the ridiculously good comic by Matt Fraction and David Aja. As has been the case throughout its short run, the book tells a simple story about Clint Barton’s life outside The Avengers.
This month it looks at six days in a life during mid-December. Over the course of the week Clint beats up some bad guys with Wolverine and Spider-Man; calls on Tony Stark to help set up his DVR; watches Christmas specials with some kids in his apartment building; and faces off against some thugs who threaten his neighborhood. It’s funny and clever and poignant and moving and, yes, corny. And the art is so pretty.
hawkeye 6 is available in any self-respecting comic shop now. It’s the perfect stocking stuffer — although you really shouldn’t bend a comic book to stick in a stocking.
Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a joyous-ass Kwanzaa, bro.