The Punisher: Red X-Mas
by Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, & Mark Texeira
Punisher kills bob bosses. Mob bosses wives hire assassin to eliminate Punisher. Punisher defeats assassin, takes revenge on wives. Sounds like just about every boring Punisher story you've ever read, right? The only thing that makes this an X-mas story is the fact that Frank is posing as a sidewalk Santa in the opening scene. Yes, it's nice to see art by Texeira, but there's really no good reason for this comic to exist.
Rating: 1.5 (of 5)
by Chris Claremont, Salvador Larroca & Danny Miki
It's Christmas at Xavier's, and Claremont uses the opportunity to check in with just about everyone who is currently affiliated with the X-Men. It's not so much a story as it is a series of vignettes, but this is the sort of thing that Claremont is good at, and he does it well. Larroca's art is great as always, and I particularly enjoyed the entry of The Beast dressed as Santa Claus. I'm feeling the Christmas love.
Rating: 3 (of 5)
Jingle Belle #2
by Paul Dini, Jose Garibaldi, & J. Bone
The main story features a mystery writer who--haunted by a brief encounter in his childhood--puts off writing his next best-seller to research a book about Santa's ellusive daughter. Dini's story works wonderfully, giving a sense of depth and history to a character who is often presented as flighty. Garibaldi's art works very well, especially the WWII flashback sequence. Dini's back-up story about Christmas in Mutant, Texas is senseless fluff, but it doesn't distract from the strength of the lead story.
Rating: 3.5 (of 5)
Sabrina, the Teenage Witch #63
by Tania Del Rio & Jim Amash
It's not really a holiday story, but "Cabin Fever" features a winter-time story with the gang and Aunt Hilda (as chaperone) taking a vacation to a cabin in the woods. Harvey and Shinji get trapped in a blizzard, and I'll be darned if Del Rio isn't making an effort to actualyl move the characters forward. There's a tendency with Archie comics to keep things status quo, but hopefully the manga influence that Del Rio is bringing to this series will break out of that mold.
Rating: 3 (of 5)