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A Very Merry X-Mas! - 'Between the Cracks'

Welcome to the first installment of A Very Merry X-Mas, where I count down my 24 favorite X-Men (or X-Men related) Christmas stories!

The first story on the list, "Between the Cracks," was the first Christmas story from the Generation X comic book series, which was an X-Men spin-off that launched in 1994 about the next generation of mutants. Essentially, the X-Men had long stopped being about its original purpose, which was a school for mutants. It had been so far past that that Marvel actually launched a second X-Men-related series in the early 1980s called New Mutants, about Professor X taking in a new class of young mutants. Well, by the 1990s, those mutants were now no longer in school anymore, either, as they went on their own and formed the paramilitary team known as X-Force. So there was a gap for a new book about mutant teens being taught at a school for mutants. So Marvel launched Generation X, which starred Banshee and Emma Frost as the new co-headmasters of this new school and Jubilee, a young mutant who had been sort of kind of part of the X-Men already, as his first student.

The book was written by then-Uncanny X-Men writer, Scott Lobdell, and was drawn by the very "hot" art team of the time, Chris Bachalo and Mark Buckingham, who had just finished a distinguished run at DC Comics working on their Vertigo books (first Shade the Changing Man, which actually predated the Vertigo term, and then the first Death miniseries, a spinoff from Sandman).

The fourth issue of the series was the book's first Christmas story, which was cleverly demonstrated by a unique approach that this series had at the time, which was to do borders with themes to match the issue. In this instance, the pages all have Christmas-y borders.

While a good story, "Beneath the Cracks" is relatively low on the countdown because it really isn't very Christmas-y at all. It's blatantly stated to be "An X-Mas Tale," but that's just because the book is set at Christmastime, with the Generation X kids going on a field trip up to Maine (the book was set in Massachusetts normally).

While there, they come across a hostage situation, where an apparent mutant who had been thrown out of his class at school has taken the class hostage in a futile attempt to be let back into class. The sad thing is that his teacher had actually fought to get him back into class, but in all the chaos, the teacher's heart gave out on him...

Adding to the chaos, the Orphan-Maker showed up to take the kid into its custody. The Orphan-Maker was a villain who would collect mutant kids whose parents did not appreciate them (in the Orphan-Maker's mind) and typically then kill the parents, thus making the kids orphans. The Orphan-Maker was here to take Elliot home...

Banshee and most of the team fought against the Orphan-Maker while Jubilee found a way into the school, but when she burst into the classroom, she had a sad discovery...

Banshee and the others defeated the Orphan-Maker and kept the villain from killing Elliot's parents, but, well, the teacher died and, as it turned out, Elliot wasn't even a mutant, he was just born with a disfigurement...

So....Merry Christmas?

Weird, right? Not really Christmas-themed at all, no?

But hey, Jubilee looks adorable in her Santa hat! That's something!

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