'Holiday Wars': Don't let your babies grow up to be Santa

What's this affection we have for personifications of popular holidays? Santa can't just be this weird elf who lives in the North Pole and breaks all laws of physics to shimmy down a chimney that's too small for him. No, that guy is literally Christmas. If little children were to, say, stop believing in him, he'd up and disappear like Tinkerbell in Peter Pan. If Christmas doesn't exist, Santa doesn't exist. Hence, he attains this almost god-like status, presiding over the other holidays like Zeus on Mount Olympus.

The idea has been explored in more popular venues, such as Jack Skellington as the long-limbed King of Halloween in The Nightmare Before Christmas and Santa Claus as a jovial, sword-wielding Cossack in The Rise of the Guardians. (No, not the one with the owls.) If anything, drawing on familiar properties allows creators to fancifully tweak characters that have long been in the public domain. A surly Easter Bunny played by Hugh Jackman? Who would've heard of such a thing? Webcomics are represented as well. The most notorious is probably the Christmas adventures that Bun-Bun would have in the pages of Sluggy Freelance.

In Holiday Wars, by Scott King, Michael Odom, Guiseppe Pica and Aturo Said (Volume 1), the personification of holidays is front and center. So what fuels this horrible holiday-on-holiday violence? Basically the core tenets of most stories of this genre: that Santa is beloved, Christmas is the most popular holiday by far, and the Easter Bunny is a total jerk. (It's got to be those creepy buckteeth.) After the old gods left Earth, the popular holidays band together to keep order and to ward off malevolent spirits, thereby protecting humanity.

The Easter Bunny, however, wanted some of that sweet immortality. Knowing of the Easter Bunny's betrayal ahead of time, Santa hides what he most desires --- The Holiday Spirit --- and blesses young Tegan with a sweet snowflake tat. Plus, she has the gift that lets her find the Holiday Spirit. It's a fairly long and involved story played relatively straight, with a heavy dose of Tolkien-style world building. At times, Holiday Wars resembles Neil Gaiman's Sandman output: dusting off old myths and applying modern sensibilities to them. A recent arc, for example, sees Chinese holidays outright denying help to the Western holidays, which they blame for their own diminishing importance.

Of course, it isn't all serious, as there's a limit to how grim you can possibly be when human personifications of holidays are having adventures. Is there a character representing Super Bowl Sunday? You bet. Also keeping things from getting too serious is Odom's art style, which have elements of a Saturday morning cartoon (though, fair warning, it is bloodier).

However, Holiday Wars isn't one of those comics that are easy to pick up from the middle: The third volume, which began recently, is awash in elements that demand backstory. (A Native American deity even shows up. What? That's not a holiday.) Fortunately, all of it is available for free online. Not a fan of reading comics on the big screen, Father Time? Not to fear: A print version is available for purchase on Amazon.

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