Marvel Holiday Special 2004
by Tom DeFalco, Roberto Aguire-Sacasa, Takeshi Miyazawa, Roger Cruz & Victor Olazaba, Duncan Rouleau & Aaron Sowd
The opening story by DeFalco & Miyazawa is a re-telling of A Christmas Carol, with J. Jonah Jameson filling the Scrooge role. It works pretty well, as DeFalco uses the occasion to look at the roots of Jameson's dislike of vigilantes, but there have been so many re-tellings of the story through the decades that it loses any sense of drama. The two shorter back-up stories are both written by Aguire-Sacasa: The first is an X-Men tale feature Scott and Emma staying at the school over the holiday break to look after a mutant who can't go home, while the second has Franklin Richards asking the members of the Fantastic Four about their holiday traditions. Both stories are okay, though the FF suffers from what comes across as religious wishy-washiness from both Sue and Reed (Franklin's a bright enough boy that surely he's asked his parents about their religious beliefs before, I would think.) I did like Ben Grimm's line about he and Kitty Pride being the only two openly Jewish super-heroes.
Rating: 2.5 (of 5)
Jingle Belle #1
by Paul Dini, Jose Garibaldi, & Stephanie Gladden
If it's holiday time, it must be time for another round of Paul Dini's Jingle Belle, the tales of Santa Claus's not-quite-naughty but not-quite-nice daughter. In the opening story, Belle is miffed that no one in the real world knows who she is, so she concocts to star in her very own Christmas special. There are some fun scenes with thinly-disguised versions of characters from the classic Rankin-Bass shows, and when the network suits show up to meddle one gets the feeling that Dini is drawing on his own experiences with Hollywood. The back-up story is about Polly Green, one of Belle's friends, who is a teenage suburban witch (a la Sabrina). Fun ensues as Polly teaches her greedy family a lesson about fulfilling every desire. The only mystery with this series is why Dark Horse would schedule it so that the later issues will come out after December.
Rating: 3 (of 5)
Spider-Man's Tangled Web #21
by Darwyn Cooke & J. Bone
Peter Parker has brought some lost field trip kids to the Daily Bugle Christmas party; meanwhile, Sue Storm, Janet Van Dyne & Crystal are Christmas shopping at Macy's where Flash Thompson is dressed up as a dpartment store Spidey & The Puppet Master is staging a robbery. If that all sounds like wacky fun mayhem to you, then you're absolutely right. Darwyn Cooke merges a 60's vibe with modern storytelling to bring us a fun tale of holiday hi-jinks. So hunt through the back-issue bin (or find it in the Spider-Man's Tangled Web, vol. 4 collection) and give yourself a holiday treat.
Rating: 3.5 (of 5)