Marvel Holiday Special 2004 Review


Reviewer: Paul Sebert

Thanksgiving has come and gone, and Merry-makers at Marvel have given us three comics in one for the low price of $3.99. That’ just a dollar more than your typical issue of Wolverine, and two dollars less than an issue of Maxim for those of you still keeping score Yes it‘s enough to warm even Jesse Baker‘s black heart. Two sizes two small as it might be.

Or it would be if these stories were actually any good. Let’s take a look at these stories one-by-one.

Story Title: Jona’s Holiday Carol

Written by: Tom DeFalco
Penciled by: Takeshi Miyazawa
Colored by: Christina Strain
Lettered by: Clem Robins
Grinch: Ralph Macchio
Dog With Antlers: Nick Lowe
Editor In Chief: Joe Quesada
Publisher: Marvel Comics

*Gulp* If there’s three words that can send chills of dread up my spine it’s “Writer Tom DeFalco.” Yes I know he did some good Spider-Man stuff in the 80s, and I know there are a lot of people who like Spider-Girl but”¦ a lot of the guy’s stuff, particularly his Fantastic Four run makes me break out in hives.

So I’m glad to say this isn’t the case in this instance. In this case Tom D. takes a story concept that essentially writes itself and rolls with it for all it’s worth. As you probably guessed by the title is a retelling of the Charles Dickens classic centered around the office of The Daily Bugle with J. Jonah Jameson as Scrooge, Norman Osborn as Jacob Marley, and Peter Parker in a breakthrough role as both Bob Cratchet and Tiny Tim. I suppose the continuity-minded fan boy in me would like to point out that Parker no longer works for the Bugle, and that Luke Cage and Jessica Jones would have made a nice Mr. & Ms. Cratchet but”¦ really some things don’t invite over-analyzation.

The real star of this piece is artist Takeshi Miyazawa, the artist best known for his run on the soon-to-be returning critical darling Mary Jane. Miyazawa’s art is always a joy to behold and getting to watch him draw renditions of not only the Daily Bugle crew, numerous Marvel Superheroes is a real treat. The Avengers, The Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, and The X-Men all manage to make cameos. The art’s good, clean, and with a softer touch than the typical Marvel slugfest that’s perfect for the material.

The Final Word: Not a contender for a year-end award by a long-shot, but an amusing enough little revision of the holiday institution in it’s own right that makes me really excited about the next round of Mary Jane.

Final Rating: 7.0

Story Title: An X-Man X-Mas

Written by: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Penciled by: Roger Cruz
Inked by: Victor Olazaba
Colored by: Chris Sotomayor
Lettered by: Clem Robins
Editors: Nick Lowe, Ralph Macchio, Joe Quesada

I’m enjoying this so far but I honestly hope this special doesn’t sell too well because odds are pretty good we’ll have an ongoing mutant spin-off title launched under the name “X-Mas” next year.

But seriously folks, it’s hard not to like a short story which opens with Bobby Drake using his powers to ensure a white Christmas and has Logan sings the “Batman smells” version of Jingle bells.

Our story begins with the start of the Xavier Academy for Gifted Yout’s winter break. Everyone, both student and faculty alike has left the school to spend “X-Mas” with their family. Everyone except Kitty Pryde who’s not in this story and is presumably celebrating Chanukah. Oh and there’s one unlucky lad by the name of Kevin (who you might know from New X-Men: Academy X/New Mutants) who sadly enough was disowned by his family.

Stepping in to the rescue is Emma Frost and Scott Summers, who selflessly put aside their Marvel Max-rated holiday vacation plans to help the lad. Not that Emma’s exactly happy about the situation.

Sacasa’s tale is a slight but enjoyable little holiday piece marked by solid characterization. Roger Cruz’s art on the other hand feels technically sound but is stylistically bland and feels a bit stiff and ridged.

The Final Word: Another enjoyable little tale this time around. Alas I just didn’t feel the love for the art on this one which brings it’s score down a notch.

Final Rating: 6.5

Story Title: The True Meaning Of

Writer: Robert Aguirre-Sacasa
Pencils: Ducan Rouleau
Inks: Aaron Sowd
Colors: Morry Hollowell
Lettering: Clem Robins
Editors: Nick Lowe, Ralph Macchio, Dan Buckley

Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa must really be drinking in deeply from the cup of Holiday Cheer as he’s contributed a second Christmas story to this
collection and it’s my favorite of the batch. And he’s joined by former Superman & JLA pencil pusher Duncan Rouleau.

After a year of solidly earning my respect on ‘4′ Sacasa here manages to pull off quite a trick making a story revolving around Franklin Richards that makes the child come across as highly believable and likeable. The story revolves around Franklin’s search for just what the holidays mean and just what he believes in.

The characterization is spot-on on and shows a surprising amount of depth for a story of this nature. Johnny Storm’s unapologetic defense of yuletide commercialism is shallow, yet surprisingly pragmatic and touching at the same time. Meanwhile Ben Grimm’s viewpoint of the holidays as a time of inner reflection, and atonement for past deeds is a definitive portrayal of the character. The plot ultimately boils down to a father/son discussion between Franklin and Reed Richards which I won’t spoil.

Duncan Rouleau’s artistic renditions of The Thing, and Mr. Fantastic are among the best I’ve ever seen. He’s got a very crisp clean style that’s a tad more cartoonish than Michael Wieringo, which works out well in terms of the story’s tone.

Final Word: THE best story of the batch, and easily the best holiday related comic you’ll read this year. ‘nuff said.

Final Rating: 9.0

Cumulative score below.