Archive for christmas comics

Christmas Comics Cavalcade: Spider-Man Holiday Special 1994

Posted in christmas comics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 20, 2016 by Christopher Pearce


1994-1995 was a weird time to be a Spider-Man fan. Marvel Comics was in the midst of an almost three year long storyline wherein Peter Parker found out that he had been cloned. That clone, previously absent from Spider-Man stories for decades, returned under the name Ben Reilly and eventually took on the super-hero identity of The Scarlet Spider. The Clone Saga (as it became known) was by most accounts a colossal misstep for the Spider-Man franchise of books. Fans were disengaged from the shenanigans and became apoplectic when, in a shocking twist, it was revealed that the Spider-Man/Peter Parker character they had been following for years was in fact, the clone… and Ben Reilly was the TRUE, original Spider-Man. Ben then took over the prime Spidey gig, allowing Peter Parker and his wife Mary Jane a quiet retirement… for about 6 or 8 months before readers practically demanded that the ship be righted with the Peter character who had been front and center for most of the comic’s run returning to his role as Spider-Man.

Sound stupid and confusing? Welcome to superhero comics in the 1990’s!


I tell you all that to explain that today we’ll be looking at the Spider-Man Holiday Special, published in 1995 by Marvel Comics. Cover price was $2.99… I got this for a quarter at a comic book convention.

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Christmas Comic Cavalcade: The Batman Adventures Holiday Special (DC Comics, 1995)

Posted in christmas comics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 20, 2014 by Christopher Pearce


This week, we’re looking at The Batman Adventures Holiday Special, published by DC Comics in 1995. Cover price was $2.95. I picked this up for $5 dollars at a comic convention this past April.


When I would shop for presents for my family as a teenager, I’d often treat myself to a comic book from the spinner rack at Waldenbooks. If possible, I would try to find a comic that was reflective of the holiday season. Indeed, some of my favorite comics of all time are collections of yuletide stories featuring superheroes (I’ve talked about many of these books before here on the Cavalcade). This comic was one of those purchases and it’s a great one.

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Christmas Comics Cavalcade: Comico Christmas Special

Posted in christmas comics with tags , , , , , , , , on December 24, 2013 by Christopher Pearce


On this Christmas Eve, let’s look at Comico Christmas Special, a one shot published in 1988. Comico was a independent publisher in the 1980’s perhaps best known for being the home of Matt Wagner’s Grendel, although the company published a wide variety of titles during their fifteen year history including The Rocketeer and several licensed properties.


Indeed, Rocketeer creators Dave Stevens provided the atmospheric cover.

All the stories in this collection are written by Doug Wheeler, a comic artist and writer who is best known for his tenure on DC Comics’ Swamp Thing after Rich Veitch left the book due to creative conflicts with editors. Besides this comic’s yuletide connotations, I wanted to take a look at this book because it’s a pretty broad, sweeping look at the holidays from one specific point of view. Whatever there is to be said about the artists in this book, it’s clear that this is entirely a Doug Wheeler joint. So what did he have to say about Christmas? Well… quite a lot, actually!

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Christmas Comics Cavalcade: Superman #165 (DC Comics)

Posted in christmas comics with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 21, 2013 by Christopher Pearce


This week we’ll be looking at Superman #165, published in December of 2001 by DC Comics. The book was written by Jeph Loeb and was something of an all-star “jam” issue featuring a who’s who of popular superhero comic artists. Cover prices was $2.25.


Superman’s been involved with some great Christmas stories in his 75 year history, but this one is different in that it’s highly connected with several ongoing stories within the Superman family of titles. In brief: Lex Luthor has just been elected President of the United States of America. Superman is obviously quite conflicted about this development and spends this issue visiting with the various members of the Justice League to get their take on the recent election results.

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Christmas Comics Cavalcade: X-O Manowar #26 (Valiant Comics)

Posted in christmas comics with tags , , , , , , , on December 14, 2013 by Christopher Pearce


This week on the Christmas Comics Cavalcade, we’re looking at X-O Manowar #26, written by Rob Johnson and Jorge Gonzalez, with artwork from Rik Levins and Mike DeCarlo, published by Valiant Comics in December of 1993. Cover price was $2.25.


Valiant Comics was an outfit which began by publishing new stories featuring classic Gold Key/Western characters like Magnus: Robot Fighter and Solar: Man of the Atom, eventually extending into brand new characters specifically created for the company. Print runs on the early Valiant comics were relatively low for the era, especially on those original properties. This spurred massive collector interest in the books and for about five years, Valiant gave Marvel and DC Comics a run for their money in terms of market share. Ultimately, Valiant sunk into a morass of intellectual property missteps and irrevelency when the comic company was bought by video game giant Acclaim.

Most of Valiant’s stable of characters were not regular reading for me as a kid, but I was a fan of X-O Manowar. The high concept of the series involved Aric of Dacia, a Visgoth warrior who was abducted by aliens. During his abduction, he came into possession of a highly advanced, sentient alien battle armor. He escaped his captors with the armor but as a consequence, ended up displaced in the 20th century. X-O Manowar was essentially “Conan as Iron Man,” which made for a fitfully fun read.

One of the hallmarks of the Valiant Universe was an incredibly tight inter-company continuity between titles. While Marvel and DC comics were curating a continuity between dozens of titles, the overseers of Valiant only had to worry about coordinating a maximum of 12 books. To wit, something that happened in X-O Manowar would become a plot point in Bloodshot or Eternal Warrior, and so on. In the go-go collector market of the 1990’s, this attention to continuity detail encouraged comic buyers to keep apace with EVERY one of Valiant’s titles, lest they miss out on some small aspect of the story. As such, all of Valiant’s comics in December of 1993 were holiday themed issues with a decent amount of continuity between them. I had originally (and over ambitiously) wanted to look at a whole BUNCH of the holiday themed titles published in this month, but I decided to focus on X-O this year. Perhaps we’ll look at some of the others sometime in the future.

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Christmas Comics Cavalcade: Force Works #8 (Marvel Comics)

Posted in christmas comics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 7, 2013 by Christopher Pearce


In the inaugural week of 2013’s Christmas Comics Cavalcade, we’ll be looking at Force Works #8, a holiday themed issue of the superhero team series published by Marvel Comics in 1994.


This book was written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, with art from Stu Johnson and Don Hudson.

It’s weird to think this in 2013 but The Avengers haven’t always been such a big deal. While the team is now the preeminent name in superhero comics and movies today, the property had major ups and downs over the years. The early to mid 1990’s were a particularly fallow period for Avengers comics creatively… which is from whence this week’s yuletide-themed comic hails.

By the mid-1980’s, The Avengers’ place as the center of the Marvel Universe had been usurped by The Uncanny X-Men and its’ various spin-offs and successors. By the early ’90’s, the various X-titles had become sales juggernauts. Force Works seems to be the Avengers’ answer to the success of X-Force. The title was meant to replace West Coast Avengers and high concept for the book was a trope that genre comic writers rake up every few years: the proactive superhero. Force Works was to be the team that stopped disasters WAY before they happened rather than waiting for the super-villain to attack. This approach is rarely successful; much of the fun of superhero comic is in the over-the-top theatrics; covert teams seeking to circumvent that process rarely generate a lot of interest from readers.

This was the 1990’s, remember – most comic readers (myself included) would buy ANY new comic series that had a number one issue… even better if it had some kind of cover enhancement. For the record, Force Works #1 had a pop-up 3-D cover that was one of the stupider of those things.

…but we’re not talking about Force Works #1… we’re talking about #8, and look at that cover! Surely everyone can anticipate what this comic’s going to be about before you even begin reading it, yes? That distinctive pointy cowl… that suggestive hand posture… even the phrasing on the book, “Guess Who’s Coming to X-Mas Dinner?”  C’mon. That’s Wolverine, y’all! Wolverine was a big goddamn deal in the 1990’s and just a brief cameo from the character would shoot a book’s sales into the stratosphere.

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christmas comic cavalcade: extreme super christmas special (image comics)

Posted in christmas comics with tags , , , , , , , on December 1, 2012 by Christopher Pearce

This week, we’re looking at Extreme Super Christmas Special, published in 1994 by Image Comics.

Cover price was $2.95.

I was a bit leery of jumping back into the Image Comics waters after last year’s dreadful Gen 13: A Christmas Caper, but it’s the holiday season, right? It’s a time for making peace and moving on. I figured it was worth a shot… even though just typing the name of this comic makes me want to punch someone in the face. Extreme Super Christmas Special? Give me a break!

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christmas comic cavalcade: terror inc. #8 (marvel comics)

Posted in christmas comics with tags , , , , , on November 24, 2012 by Christopher Pearce

This week at the CCC, we’re looking at Terror Inc. #8, published by Marvel Comics in 1993.

Cover price was $1.75.

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odds and ends: the stand, the strand, and other stuff

Posted in odds and ends with tags , , , , , , , , on August 3, 2012 by Christopher Pearce

I probably should have mentioned this earlier, but I’m horrible about promoting myself. I’m going to be teaching a class about drawing comics for 6th, 7th, and 8th graders on Saturday, August 11th at Pop Revolution Gallery and Framing. The class is going to involve lessons on designing characters, brainstorming ideas, and drawing finished comics. Check out the website!



I’m still enjoying it, but it’s been years since I’ve hit upon a novel where, no matter how much I read, there still seems to be 200 pages left to go.

I suppose part of my slow-going stems from trying to read Dune while visiting the beach with my family. With two young children, you get to read about a paragraph and a half before you have to look up and tell the younger one to stop eating sand, or the older one not to feed the younger one sand, no matter how much the younger one says that he likes it.

Ellen’s been reading The Stand for the first time and I’m sort of jealous of her. I’ve been trying to get her to read the book for years; it’s one of my favorites and I’ve probably read it about 10 times. Through a series of goofy circumstances I detailed here, she started the book while we were down the shore. I’m a little jealous of her getting to read a book I’ve read so many times with new eyes!


Ellen and I also managed to see both of the big superhero movies to come out in the last month. We took in The Amazing Spider-Man while we were down the shore and saw The Dark Knight Rises last weekend.

Comparing the two flicks doesn’t really do either justice; they’re both aiming for different targets and the methods and means by which they hit those marks will obviously not be the same. That being said, I felt the same way about both movies. They were good but flawed. Just thought I’d mention.


One more book thing, and then I’m done. While in New York City, I visited my favorite bookstore, The Strand. I was a bit disappointed with what I found- somewhere between my yearly visits, The Strand has changed from a pure used book store to a true book store. You can pick up brand new books for full price! Heresy! The best part about going to The Strand as a teenager was buying books dirt cheap! I guess I can’t fault the place for wanting to make a buck, but it seems a little sad to me.

The Strand does still have the used books you understand, they’ve just scaled back quite a bit. I managed to find one out of print comic collection for which I’ve been searching for what seems like years.

Published in 2000, A DC Universe Christmas collects many of DC Comics’ most famous Yuletide stories. You all know I’m a big fan of Christmas comics, so when I heard this existed, I immediately started scouring used book stores and comic conventions to no joy. My favorite Superman/Christmas story is not collected here, but there are many other great stories to enjoy, including an early Frank Miller take on Batman and a weird Legion of Super-Heroes tale where the LoSH try to hunt down the star that hung over Bethlehem on the First Christmas!

Like I said, it’s out of print and I had a hard time running it down… but if you have the means and the interest, it’s a nice package.

christmas comics cavalcade: ant man’s big christmas

Posted in christmas comics with tags , , , , , , , , on December 17, 2011 by Christopher Pearce

Today we’re looking at Ant Man’s Big Christmas, a one shot from Marvel Comics‘ Marvel Knights imprint, published in 2000. It’s a square bound, prestige format book with a $5.95 price tag.

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