As the day that is Christmas fast approaches, I thought it might be the best time to explore the world of holiday-themed comics. Specifically, the yearly offering from Marvel Comics. Just like its Competitor with 52 titles of fun, Marvel produces a one-shot comic every year to sum up a celebration of the season. Usually an anthology, the book covers a wide range of Marvel Heroes showing how they keep Christmas. So imagine my surprise when over the past few weeks, Marvel did not just release one holiday-themed comic, BUT TWO! That’s right. Along with the appropriately themed Holiday Special described above, there was also an offering of the naughty variety. Deadpool Max put out it’s own Christmas Special to get you in twice the Christmas spirit. So let’s waste no futher ado and take a look at these two very “special” comics.

Deadpool Max-Mas Special

Written by Dave Lapham; Art by Lapham, Kyle Baker, and Shawn Chrystal

Before I get into the plot of this issue, I would like to mention that I do not regularly read Deadpool comics. Thankfully, as long as you have a basic understanding of Deadpool and his peeps, you will not be all that lost in this stand-alone book. The story begins with DP’s sidekick, Agent Bob, having a case of the Christmas Blues. It’s Christmas Eve and he’s wanted for a boatload of crimes he didn’t commit, including mass murder and terrorism. He’s helpless to change his situation as he is unable to stop the real terrorists and clear his name. He utters the famous lines that have haunted many a Christmas parody: “ It would have been better had I never been born.” Well Deadpool is no angel, but he finds a way to grant his wish. Well, he doesn’t exactly grant it. Instead of Bob never being born, Deadpool has taken a corspe from the morgue and faked Bob’s death for him. Bob is actually thrilled when he hears this as things are now a clean slate for him and he can start over. Deadpool then breaks the news to him that  an autopsy of the body will put an end to the fake death and the man hunts for Bob will resume. He just wants to show him what the world be like if he wasn’t here. Through a collection of various holiday themed disguises, the two travel across the globe to see how Bob’s death has effected those closest to him. It’s not exactly the reaction DP is looking for to cheer up his buddy. So the merc with a mouth kind of abandons the experiment midway and has Bob accompany him to the loony bin that his wife is staying at. As they enter the asylum, they find Deadpool’s wife thinking she’s a slave-driving Santa Claus (though I’ve never seen a Santa dressed in a bikini and thigh-high stockings before) and the other patients are her elves whose job it is to produce guns for all the girls and boys. Sound confusing? It’s suppose to be. As one thing leads to another, Deadpool finds himself in a bind and Bob has to get him out of it. In the end, Bob realises that even if everyone else in the world might be better off without him, Deadpool would be up shit creek. And that’s enough for him.

Like I said, I don’t read Deadpool. If I did, I probably would’ve gotten more out of this. That being said, I really enjoyed this story. It took a done-to-death plot – The “It’s a Wonderful Life” parody – and did it in a way that it felt at least somewhat fresh. The jokes are over the top, as they should be. And the three different art styles for  each chapter of the issue are well tuned with the tale that being told. Overall, if you want a laugh and you like Christmas, this special is worth checking out.

The Marvel Holiday Comic (2011)

Written by various writers ; Art by Various Artists

Not one to break with holiday traditions, Marvel did provide their yearly Christmas anthology. And like most years, it is a mixed bag in both the characters they showcase and the quality of stories. Don’t know if this is a rite of passage at Marvel, but it always appears that the stories in these holiday specials are created by lesser-known talent. No big names ever grace the book. I guess if you’re new to the Marvel pool, you have to contribute to this annual tome. There are two gems within: “Ol’ Saint Nick”, written by Aaron Shaps with art by Sebastian Piriz, features Nick Fury breaking into a Hydra base on Christmas Eve to deliver a special message to one particular Hydra agent. The art is fun and the characterization of Fury is classic. “Chinese Food for Christmas”, written by Jamie S. Rich with art by Paco Diaz, tells the tale of the Thing, on his way to a very special super-hero get-together – Since Thing, Kitty Pryde of the X-Men, Moon Knight, Sasquatch of Alpha Flight, and Songbird of the Thunderbolts are all Jewish, they meet up on Christmas Eve to enjoy a Chinese Food buffet. On the way, Thing runs into a series of robberies and follows the trail to catch the perpetrator. Little does he know that this will lead him to a group of  kids in need of a Christmas rescue, and not the one he’s thinking of. This story is right up Rich’s alley as it’s a character piece and that’s where he excels. Diaz’ art with colors by Jean-Francois Beaulieu are also the high light of the book. But with the good, comes the bad. The book begins with the story of a villain who is having a bit of a mental break due to loosing her family around christmas. This is meant to be a heart warming tale but comes off as corny. This is followed up with a story of Wolverine taking some of his new students out to a frozen pond on the Jean Grey School grounds to dissapline them for destroying Beast’s lab. For some reason, he feels that teaching them Hockey will show them the error of their ways and help them work as a team. It doesn’t end up doing that. What it does do is give the author of the piece a chance to have Wolverine quote Canadian “treasure” Don Cherry. This is unnessary and will be lost on more than half the audience. The art on both tales are the saving grace that will get you through the first half of the book.

While some of the stories are not amazing, the book is worth reading for the Thing story alone. That being said, while it’s worth reading, I don’t know if I can say it’s worth paying for. If you want to read a fun superhero Christmas romp, track down the 2005 Marvel Holiday Special, or last year’s Larfleeze Christmas Special from DC. But if you want a good laugh with some raunchy humour, then be sure to go out and get the Deadpool Max-Mas Special, in stores now!

And if you gonna geek out, geek festive and GEEK HARD!

I leave you now with a pic that really gets me in the mood...I mean, holiday spirit.