For as long as there have been comic books being sold in the United States, publishers have been doing Christmas comics. “Superman’s Christmas Adventure” was published over 75 years ago. Since Christmas comics have become so ubiquitous, though, there have been so many different types that some of them stand out as particularly bizarre.
This doesn’t always mean bad, of course, as many amazing comic book stories have been written over the years that would be classified as “bizarre” or “crazy” (heck, when you boil down the idea of a guy running around with red underwear over his tights and a big “S” on his chest, many comic book characters can be seen as “crazy”). Sometimes, though, “crazy” is the same as “bad.” Here, then, are the 15 craziest Christmas comic book stories ever told. See if you can figure out which ones were naughty and which ones are nice.
15. Jingle Bombs!
An interesting thing about the “Marvel Age” of comics that you might not have noticed is that Stan Lee was not a fan of doing holiday stories. There are almost no Christmas celebrations in Marvel’s superhero line of comics during the 1960s. It was not until the 1970s that a Christmas comics began to appear with a little more frequency in a couple of the books, most notably the very first issue of “Marvel Team-Up.” However, just because Christmas comics were beginning to appear doesn’t mean that Marvel was getting sentimental.
In “Jingle Bombs” from “Luke Cage, Hero for Hire” #7 (by Steve Englehart, George Tuska and Billy Graham), Luke Cage encountered three strange men in an early 1970s send-up of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” with one seemingly from the past, one from the present and one from the future, all of whom were sure that society needed to be destroyed. Luke Cage passed the tests of each one, but after it was revealed that all three men were really one insane guy, the villain decided he was still going to nuke New York City. In the end, though, he was distracted by someone coming down the chimney, allowing Luke Cage to knock him out and save the day. Was it really Santa Claus? Nope, it was a burglar trying to rob the apartment!
14. Ambush Bug’s Stocking Stuffer
After appearing as a villain in a couple of Superman stories in “DC Comics Presents” and “Action Comics,” DC Comics turned Ambush Bug into a superhero and gave him his own mini-series by Keith Giffen, Robert Loren Fleming and Bob Oksner that mostly just made fun of the DC Universe. He also gained his own sidekick, Cheeks the Toy Wonder, who, of course, was just a doll. Cheeks later died and was brought back to life as a zombie.
However, after Giffen and Fleming tried to end the story with Cheeks being a zombie, they were accosted by Julius Schwartz, the editor of the book, who insisted that they finish the story and use up all the pages they were hired to use. Then Jonni DC, who was in charge of DC Continuity, showed up to get rid of the zombie toys as they had no part in the “modern, serious” DC Universe. She then forced Ambush Bug to take part in a linear, non-metafictional comic book story. When that was done, Giffen and Fleming had burned Ambush Bug’s home down, just to mess with him. Don’t feel bad, though, as everything ended up happily, because Santa Claus reunited him with his partner by accidentally dropping a brand new Cheeks doll at Ambush Bug’s feet.
13. Present Tense
When the Ty Templeton short story, “Present Tense,” opened up in 1997’s “DC Holiday Bash II,” it showed the dangerous world of Apokolips with its guard up. Their efforts were to no avail, however, for their defensive perimeter had been breached! A foot soldier reported this news to the mighty Darkseid, ruler of Apokolips, and it was only through the despot’s great “mercy” that the soldier was merely burned alive rather than being outright atomized. Another soldier told Darkseid that not only had the perimeter been breached, but also their target was now in the room with them!
Who was this mysterious target? Why, none other than Santa Claus himself! Hilariously enough, Santa Claus determined that he had to visit everyone on his “Naughty or Nice” list, even if that meant fighting through missiles and lasers and force fields. Good ol’ Saint Nick then promptly checked his list and saw that, yep, the evil Darkseid was in fact “naughty” this year. He then gave him his coal and got the heck out of there. A hilarious story by the great Templeton.
12. The Santa Contract
In “Hitman” #22 (by Garth Ennis, John McCrea and Steve Pugh), a worker at a Gotham City nuclear power plant was tragically knocked into a vat of radioactive material by a drunken Santa Clause at the office Christmas party. Instead of dying, the chemicals gave him superpowers. He briefly considered becoming a superhero, but upon realizing that his powers were more supervillan-like instead (he could burn people alive with his radioactive hands), he decided to embrace villainy. He took the office Santa Claus’ costume and traveled to the mall to ruin Christmas.
Tommy Monaghan and his friend, Natt, were hired by the owner of the plant (who, of course, was drawn just like Montgomery Burns from “The Simpsons”) to kill the villain. They did so, but not before he had already killed a dozen or so people. It’s a bleak story by Ennis, especially since the whole thing was written as if it were a Dr. Seuss story.
11. Merry Freakin’ Christmas!
In the 2008 “Marvel Holiday Special”, Fred Van Lente and Sanford Greene delivered a delightfully bizarre story where Deadpool infiltrated Santa Claus’ workshop at the North Pole. Why? He was there to gain access to Santa Claus’ top-secret “Naughty or Nice?” list. However, Santa Claus interrupted Deadpool before he could complete his mission and the two soon began to fight each other.
Things were interrupted when the abominable snowman burst into the workshop and Deadpool saved Santa Claus’ life by impaling the snowman with a giant sharpened candy cane. When they took a breather, Santa inquired as to why Deadpool was there and it turned out that ‘Pool had been hired by an evil billionaire to erase his name from Santa’s Naughty list. Santa, however, outbid the bad guy by giving Deadpool the Pez dispensers he had always wanted, leading the issue to end with Deadpool climbing down the bad guy’s chimney to dispense some lead justice.
10. Merry Christmas, Justice League — Now Die!
Mark Waid‘s final issue of his way too short run on “JLA” was a Christmas story for issue #60, with art by Cliff Rathburn and Paul Neary. The story opened with Plastic Man visiting his friend Woozy, Woozy’s sister and her son. The boy was being put down to sleep, so Plastic Man told him a story of how Santa Claus became a member of the Justice League. According to Plastic Man’s story, the villain Neron came up with a plot where he would give kids presents the day before Christmas and that all of his presents would have a dangerous twist to them.
The Justice League tried to take him down, but Neron’s magical powers were too much for them, so he ended up transforming them all into coal. However, Santa Claus ended up saving the day by arriving with a present for Neron: socks and underwear! The awful present distracted Neron enough for Santa to defeat him and save the League. They then made him a member of the team. Woozy’s nephew didn’t buy it until, shockingly enough, Santa Claus flew by his window in a jetpack! As it turned out, it was just Martian Manhunter helping out, but still awesome!
9. A Miracle A Few Blocks Down From 32nd Street
In the classic 1991 “Marvel Holiday Special,” Scott Lobdell was joined by Dave Cockrum, the co-creator of most of the All-New, All-Different X-Men (namely Storm, Colossus, Nightcrawler and Thunderbird) to tell a lost X-Men Christmas classic (Joe Rubinstein inked the story). The X-Men were hanging out at the X-Mansion trimming their Christmas tree when they were alerted by Cerebro that a very powerful mutant was in a New York City department store. The X-Men showed up to look for it, but instead ran into the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants!
The two teams fought until the Brotherhood was suddenly turned into action figures. As it turned out, the powerful mutant was the department store Santa Claus! Before the X-Men could inquire anything more about him, he teleported them away and erased their memories of the encounter. They then ended up at the ice skating rink at Rockefeller Plaza. This is when we realized that this story was set right before the eventful Christmas in “X-Men” #98 (which kicked off the three-part storyline where the X-Men were kidnapped by Sentinels and Jean Grey ended up becoming the Phoenix to save all of her friends).
8. The Last Christmas
Before they took the comic book world by storm with their run on “Deadpool”, Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn first showed off their writing chops on the Image Comics mini-series “The Last Christmas” in 2006. The mini-series was drawn by future star writer, Rick Remender, with inks by Hilary Barta. It tells the story of Santa Claus losing his wife and thus deciding to pull back from society in the wake of an apocalyptic event.
Years pass, and humanity has been reduced to puny numbers because most of the people on Earth are now zombies. Santa Claus, who is powered by people’s belief in him, has almost reached the point where he can end his life, but one little boy refuses to stop believing in him. Santa decides that he has to find that little boy and end this so that he can finally die. However, once Santa is pulled back into society, he finds his Christmas spirit and determines that he has to wipe out the zombie horde, so Santa and his elves go zombie hunting!
7. The Big Red Slay
Santa the Barbarian began life as simply a joke that was part of a “Wizard: The Guide to Comics” giveaway. Drawn by Rob Liefeld, the character appeared as a trading card in 1993. However, like many other joke characters, the character had a bit of a resonance with readers, so three years later, Liefeld gave him his own comic book from his Maximum comic book company. Written by Dan Fraga and Robert Loren Fleming, and drawn by Pop Mhan, the comic book is an over-the-top violent ode to the notion of Santa Claus as a violent barbarian.
The comic has two stories. In the first one, Santa is distraught to learn that the “Nice” part of the “Naughty or Nice” list has been reduced to just a handful of names, so he determined that coal wasn’t enough of a deterrent and decides that swords and axes would have to fill in. In the second story, Santa took on his own elves, who turned on him and tried to kill him with a giant robot. It’s all very, very violent.
6. Yes, Virginia, There Is A Santron
In this delightfully odd Christmas story from the “2005 Marvel Holiday Special” by Jeff Parker, Reilly Brown and Pat Christopher, a brilliant young woman who has trouble relating to the rest of the world dealt with the absence of a “real” Santa Claus in the world (which messed with her head, as she believed in Saint Nick) by creating a robotic Santa using an old Ultron body as the base of the creation. However, when she powered her project up, the Ultron programming kicked in, resulting in a Santron that wanted to kill the Avengers, (although in all fairness, it wanted everyone else to have a Merry Christmas).
Eventually, young Virgina helped the Avengers defeat her “Santron” and Captain America gave a beautiful speech about how there is a Santa Claus, so long as there are good people and love in the world. As Wolverine noted in the issue, while wiping a tear from his eye, Captain America sure is great at giving inspirational speeches.
5. Santa Claus VS. The Illuminati
In the “Marvel Holiday Special” in 2008, Brian Reed and Val Semeiks were the creative team on a story where Santa Claus visited the Illuminati for help. The Illuminati, of course, was the secretive group of major Marvel superheroes who were controlling the Marvel Universe from behind the scenes, consisting of Mister Fantastic, Iron Man, Namor, Professor X, Black Bolt and Doctor Strange. Santa had discovered that all of his reindeer were secretly Skrulls in disguise so he needed help delivering his toys. He asked if he could borrow the Infinity Gauntlet, which the Illuminati were safekeeping.
They agreed (this is Santa Claus, after all) but, as the saying goes, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, so Santa went power mad. Luckily, Namor was able to knock some sense into him via a snowball to the noggin. The Illuminati then found an alternate way of assisting the jolly ol’ elf: Iron Man built him robotic reindeer.
4. I’ll Be Doom For Christmas
In “What The…?” #10, Scott Lobdell, John Byrne and Jade Moede put together the adorable tale, “I’ll Be Doom for Christmas.” Like Darkseid, Doctor Doom was waiting for Santa Claus at his castle, only Doom managed to capture him. However, in capturing Santa, he also injured him enough so that jolly ol’ Saint Nick would not be able to complete his annual mission that night, so Doctor Doom had to take over.
Naturally, when the superheroes all saw Doctor Doom doing Santa’s job, they all figured that he was up to no good. After tracking Doom, they eventually all attacked him. While he was fighting them, a little girl wandered over and wanted to know why Kris Kringle was fighting all of the superheroes. Everyone stopped and Doom explained that they were not fighting, but rather that they were all his helpers. He finished the rest of the deliveries and returned to Santa, who was now well enough to leave, but not before giving Doom the present he always wanted.
3. Yes, Tyrone, There Is A Santa Claus
Kelley Puckett and Pete Woods put together this bizarrely wonderful story in “DC Infinite Holiday Special” #1, in which a young boy wrote into the Daily Planet asking if there was really a Santa Claus or not. The Daily Planet published the boy’s letter and it got a lot of attention. Superman decided that he would surprise the boy by building a sleigh, put a bunch of toys in it, and dress up in a special Santa Claus version of his Superman costume.
However, on the way there, Batman stopped Superman and explained that this was a waste of his powers. After all, at the same time that he would be giving the kid presents, surely there would be other disasters around the world. Was he going to let people die just so that he could give presents to some kid? Superman sullenly agreed and left to use his powers around the globe.
In the end, though, Superman figured that he might as well quickly stop by just to give the kid the presents. But when he did, who did he see, but Bat-Santa getting all of the glory! And thus, one of the great endings of a Christmas comic ever: Superman punching Batman (along with a symbol denoting that it was an out-of-continuity Elseworlds story).
2. Lobo: Paramilitary Christmas Special
In this twisted classic by Keith Giffen, Alan Grant and Simon Bisley, Lobo was hired by the Easter Bunny to take care of his biggest rival in the world of holiday cheer, Santa Claus. Thus, the Main Man traveled to the North Pole, where he was greeted by armed elves. Lobo then proceeded to tear them apart in a gruesome series of pages where the elves were torn literally limb from limb.
With the elves out of the way, Lobo came face to face with Saint Nick, or “Kris,” as he liked to be called. He was there with his roommate, a giant gorilla because, hey, why not? He challenged Lobo to a knife duel to the death. Lobo took him up on the challenge and after a bloody battle, Lobo decapitated Santa Claus! Lobo then took Santa’s sleigh and his list of addresses for all the children in the world and then dropped a bunch of bombs on the poor little tykes. Truly one of the more disturbing endings to a Christmas story you’ll ever read.
1. Warrior X-Mas Special
Really, it’s odd enough that the late, great professional wrestling superstar, the Ultimate Warrior, had his own comic book to begin with. However, as strange as the other issues of his series are (and they are very strange), none of them quite hold a candle to the “Warrior X-Mas Special”, written by the Warrior himself and drawn by a number of artists.
You see, rather than a straightforward Christmas tale, this comic book was actually a series of pin-ups accompanied by text pieces by the Warrior. The pin-ups were disturbing, like our featured image of Warrior putting on Santa’s red stockings next to the naked and unconscious Claus. The text pieces, though, were even more disturbing. They were written in almost illegible font and once you actually managed to read them, you were better off not even bothering. Here is a snippet from this page, “Up till then you had faith. Life was good. Barney was your beagle, the best friend you ever had, not some purple dinosaur and Santa Claus was the epitomy of ultra-exclusive customer service. A bad-ass dude who always got the job done. Oh sure, he forgot a thing or two on your list once in a while, but hell your list was 65 pages long and you knew he had your buddies to take care of as well. Remember, life is the challenge. What to do…???”
Clearly, this is the craziest Christmas comic book ever made.
What do you think is the craziest Christmas comic book story out there? Let us know in the comments!
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