Another week closer to Christmas and here I am, back again, to take you on a journey to the land of Christmas Comics. Now as you may remember from last week’s installment, there are many Christmas comics in the world and so very many of them are not worth reading. But amongst the pile of hard to read offerings there are a small few that take the magical season that is the Holidays and place it on the comics page where it stays for all time. Last time, I showed the best of the best that Marvel has to offer on the Christmas front. This week, I want to take a look at some of the other publishers and see how they’ve kept Christmas over the years. What follows are Christmas comics from DC, Dark Horse and even Image. Join me as we go further down the rabbit hole to find the spirit of Christmas in the four colour world of comics!
Christmas Knight (Starman #27 – December 1996)
Creative Team: James Robinson (writer), Steve Yeowell (artist), Tony Harris (cover artist)
One of my absolute favourite series from the 90s that still holds up today would have to be James Robinson’s Starman for DC Comics. A Series that not only weaved together the somewhat convoluted history of the various heroes that had taken the name Starman in the DCU but also a fantastic journey through the life of a hero that payed tributes to everyone from Charles Dickens to Tom Waits. Issue #27 is a pretty special issue indeed as it covers Christmas in the context that only Jack Knight (the protagonist who was sometimes his own worst antagonist) could. While on his way to the O’Dare family Christmas, Jack befriends a wayward Santa who’s down on his luck. The two end up deciding to spread the holiday spirit by cleaning up the alleyways of Opal City. A heartwarming tale that while a stand alone issue, fits perfectly into the ongoing adventures of this reluctant Starman. Steve Yeowell delivers on the art chores and Robinson brings the right amount of sentiment without over selling the usual charm of the comic. If you’re looking for a superhero tale to brighten your spirits this Christmas, you can’t really go wrong with this one.
The Goon: A Christmas Story (The Goon #3 – December 2002)
Creative Team: Eric Powell (writer and artist)
If you’re a fan of It’s a Wonderful Life, Child Hungry Elves and foul mouthed Santas, The Goon: A Christmas Story is for you. Originally published by Exploding Albatross Funnybooks but later released in The Goon Vol. 1 Trade from Dark Horse, the story told here is a simple one. It’s Christmas Eve and Goon and Frankie are enjoying themselves at Norton’s Pub. Frankie uses his trading abilities to score himself a cool space helmet while Goon is having a tender moment with a lady. This tender moment is interupted when word gets out about a few missing kids and only The Goon can find ’em. The results are an eventual showdown with two goblin-like creatures that turn out to be Santa’s elves. This elves like to eat humans and it takes a stern talking to and beating from Santa for them to cough up the kids (they have much slower digestive systems so the children are regurgitated without harm). The story ends with a fantastic exchange between Santa and Frankie on why he never got anything for Christmas. This is without a doubt the most balls-to-the-wall fun Christmas comic you will every read. The Goon is good reading.
Orange You Glad It’s Christmas?! (Green Lantern: The Larfleeze Christmas Special One Shot – December 2010)
Creative Team: Geoff Johns (writer), Brett Booth (artist)
If you were following the Green Lantern series while Geoff Johns was writing it, you probably know all about Larfleeze, the weilder of the Orange Lantern and Ring who wants everything for himself. The embodiement of Avarice and Greed, Larfleeze wants it all, so when he finds out about a Man with a sleigh and reindeer who will bring you your heart’s desire as long as you write him a nice letter before December 24th, he moves to Earth and sets up a homestead. So what happens when he mails his extremely long Christmas list to Santa and doesn’t get it? Needless to say he’s not happy and Hal Jordan has to step in to try to teach him a lesson about putting others before oneself. But does the lesson sink in? For fans of GL, this was a nice rest stop on the always advancing storylines that made the Johns run popular. But even if you’re just a casual fan of the DCU, you owe it to yourself to check this story out. It’s funny, heartwarming at points and drawn beautifully by Brett Booth. You need to get your hands on this…..but don’t be surprised if I steal it from you. MINE!
Happy (Happy #1-4 – October 2012 – January 2013)
Creative Team: Grant Morrison (writer), Darick Robertson (artist)
Leave to Grant Morrison to write a fucked up story that uses Christmas as its backdrop. Published by Image Comics, Happy is the story of Nick Sax, a down on his luck ex-cop turned criminal who’s known for handling all your murding needs at the right price. After a hit gone wrong, both cops and crooks are on his tail. At the same time, a sicko in a Santa outfit is stealing kids to do horrible things to them. Oddly enough, Nick is the only one who has a chance at finding these kids. Why? Well, he’s the only other person on this planet that can see Happy, a flying blue horse with feathers who’s also one of the abducted girls’ imaginary friend. What happens next appears to be a mash up of a hardcore crime thriller, a buddy cop film and the carebears. I can’t explain it any better than that. If you’re not that into Christmas but would like a bit of sprinkled into your next comic (the whole story takes place on Christmas Eve) you might want to check this out. As always, Morrison packs a punch in his storytelling unlike anyone else.
Masks and Mobsters X-Mas Special (Masks and Mobsters #5 – December 2012)
Creative Team: Joshua Williamson (writer), Mike Henderson (artist)
Our final entry is one that I came across only recently. Originally put out by Monkeybrain Comics, this anthology series about a town where the mob is taking the fight to Superheros has had it’s first few issues collected and released through Image in a sleek yet minimalist hardcover. I picked up the collected edition and one story that caught my eye right away was the X-Mas Special. It’s a quiet night in the city on Christmas Eve and two low end mobsters have been sent to execute a hit on a man who has lost the Christmas spirit. You may know of the guy when you see him. He’s the one who’s needs to be visited by his dead partner and three spirits to get that he should be kind to his fellow man? Yeah, that guy. It doesn’t matter who he is when it comes to these two hitmen. A job’s a job. But the aforementioned dead partner and those three ghosts may have a problem with them completing their work. A nice little look into the Dickens classic from the outside in, this story is a quick read that will stay with you a long time.
So those are my picks for great Christmas Comics. I hope you’ve enjoyed my look to the Spirit of Comics’ Christmas Past and maybe you found a few funnybooks you’re interested in checking out. Happy Holidays and Happy Reading!
If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!