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Comics

Comic Books Celebrate the Holiday Season

batmanBelieve it or not, even comic books like to get into the holiday spirit. From short stories to reinventions of familiar tales, comic book creators work hard to bring season greetings to fans.

One of the first holiday specials to look at is “Marvel Holiday Special 2011.” Now this isn’t the first time Marvel has produced a special one-shot of stories set around Christmas time. Characters from Spider-Man, the Hulk, and the X-Men have been featured in these tales, fighting trouble while preparing for the holidays.

According to spider-fan.org, “In the early 90’s, Marvel started running a ‘Marvel Holiday Special,’ featuring a few Christmassy…type stories. That ran out of steam after a half-dozen issues, but they started up again in 2004 and have carried on ever since.”

In addition to print publication, “Marvel Holiday Special 2011” was also offered to fans online as a four-part series through Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited.

In “Marvel Holiday Special 2011,” one of the stories involves Wolverine playing hockey (issue #1). Another has Spider-Man in pursuit of a criminal on Christmas (issue #2) while the Thing has his holiday meal interrupted by super powered trouble (issue #4). These stories are a nice break from the heavy melodrama present throughout the year.

While Marvel is busy having fun with their special, things are a bit more serious at DC Comics. Their holiday book in the spotlight this year is “Batman: Noel” by superstar artist Lee Bermejo (who was also written about in last week’s column regarding “Lex Luthor: Man of Steel” and “Joker”). Unlike his previous works, in this original graphic novel Bermejo takes up duties as both writer and artist.

“Batman: Noel” places the Caped Crusader in Ebenezer Scrooge’s shoes from Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol,” as Batman confronts his past, present, and future around Christmas time. Along the way, spirits in the form of characters like Superman and Catwoman visit Batman to discuss his life as Gotham’s crime fighter.

While talking to comicbookresources.com about “Batman: Noel,” Bermejo explained why “A Christmas Carol” could easily be placed in Batman’s world and how this interpretation is unique.

He said, “I think everybody’s familiar with ‘A Christmas Carol’ at this point, but the great thing about that – and I think the reason for that – is that thematically it’s got something universal. I thought that it would be interesting to play with those classic ideas but use DC characters. And I think it’s important to note too that this isn’t an adaptation….It’s its own story that mirrors the structure of ‘A Christmas Carol,’ and you have a narrator that’s telling you the story of ‘A Christmas Carol’ almost as if he was telling it to someone else.”

Although “Batman: Noel” is DC’s holiday book for 2011, it isn’t the only time they’ve published a book centering on and/or celebrating holidays. Just like the “Marvel Holiday Special” one-shots, DC has printed stories featuring heroes like Superman and Wonder Woman in the “DC Universe Holiday Special” series.

While there isn’t one this year, “DC Universe Holiday Special 2010” featured a Thanksgiving story with Superman and even a Hanukkah tale with bounty hunter Jonah Hex searching for the person that murdered a rabbi. Unlike Marvel, DC’s specials tend to cover all holidays around this time of year rather than just the major December festivals.
The last comic book to discuss is Bongo Comics’ “The Simpsons Winter Wingding” #6. It’s an annual book that comes out around November/December to celebrate winter and the holidays.

This isn’t the only “Simpsons” book that celebrates seasons or holidays as Bongo also publishes a summer annual (“The Simpsons Summer Shindig) and a Halloween special like the TV show (“Bart Simpson’ Treehouse of Horror”).

According to a synopsis on tfaw.com, stories in the new “Simpsons Winter Wingding” include “Bart makes an important archaeological discovery when he finds a frozen caveman in Lake Springfield. And after a mail-order mix-up, Homer’s Christmas gifts to the family get delivered to different residences throughout Springfield - with surprising results!”

The site also mentions a story featuring Grandpa Simpson telling another of his wacky stories and Bart shoveling snow to make money.

Overall,“Simpsons” fans can rest assured this lovable yet goofy family will keep them laughing page after page.
While movies and TV produce new holiday stories yearly, these comics show that there are just as many exciting and fun tales to be read dealing with heroes or animated families.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Photo courtesy of comicscontinuum.com

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