Celebrating New Year’s With Joe Kelly Comics

In Drawing Crazy Patterns, I spotlight at least five scenes/moments from within comic book stories that fit under a specific theme (basically, stuff that happens frequently in comics). Today, on New Year’s Day, we look at Joe Kelly’s long history of comic books set during New Year’s.

Often, when we talk about recurring bits, they come to us obviously. You know, like “”focused totality of my psychic powers” or “Ah’m pretty much invulnerable while Ah’m blastin’.” Much rarer, then, are the recurring bits that really aren’t obvious at all until you look back and say, “Wow, Joe Kelly sure does like to write about New Year’s a lot.” New Year’s, you see, has long been the forgotten comic book holiday. If you’re a monthly comic book and you want to do a holiday issue in December, you’re not going to go for New Year’s Eve, you’re going to go for Christmas. And if you DO do a Christmas issue in December, the odds are that you’ll not want to spend a SECOND issue on a less famous holiday the next month, ya know? So there have not been a whole lot of New Year’s comic book stories over the years. Which is what makes it so interesting that Joe Kelly alone has written FIVE comic books set during New Year’s.

We open with X-Men #73, from Kelly’s run on X-Men (Joe Casey assisted Kelly on the story. The art was by Jeff Johnson and Dan Panosian). The issue is a bit of a fill-in story, but with sort of a framing sequence of Beast putting up a sing for the team to make their New Year’s resolutions…

Here are the final resolutions…

Fun stuff.

Kelly moved from X-Men to Action Comics as part of the big Superman creative changeover in 1999. Kelly took over Action Comics. Early on in his stint on the book, they had a big crossover when 1999 turned into 2000, taking the worries over “Y2K” into a special one-shot, “Superman: YDK,” with art by Butch Guice and Will Conrad…

The whole problem was started by Brainiac 2.5!

It led to a whole crossover when Brainiac 13 showed up at the end of the issue!

It’s a really good issue, by the way. Kelly goes back into the history of Metropolis to show stories of New Year’s past (mostly involving Luthor’s ancestors). The whole digitally constructed Brainiac 13 wasn’t as cool, though (some things don’t age well).

A year later, in Action Comics #774 (art by Eric Canete), after Lex Luthor won the 2000 Presidential Election in the DC Universe, Superman is trying to avoid New Year’s with his in-laws (General Sam Lane was going to be part of Luthor’s administration) but his friend, J’onn J’onnz, convinced him to celebrate New Year’s….

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Finally, in Joe Kelly’s final issue of his Action Comics run, it was also a New Year’s story, with Superman and Lois celebrating 19 New Year’s celebrations in a single day!

Superman also helps people along the way. The art in the issue is by a whole bunch of different artists. It ends with a throwback to the first villain that Superman fought in Kelly’s Action Comics run…

Very heartwarming stuff.

Finally, a story from when Joe Kelly was part of the Amazing Spider-Man “brain trust” (the “brain trust” was a group of writers who co-wrote Amazing Spider-Man when it was coming out three times a month. They would trade off arcs. When Kelly joined, the group was Joe Kelly, Mark Waid, Marc Guggenheim, and Dan Slott. Eventually, they just reduced the release schedule to twice a month and had Slott be the sole writer). Amazing Spider-Man #617 was drawn by Max Fiumara and Fabio D’Auria and it was set during New Year’s…

The issue was a heartwarming story that involved the Rhino being challenged by a new Rhino. However, the former Rhino had found love and Spider-Man convinced him that there is honor in passing up a fight to help the one you love…

Of course, this being comics, she gets murdered later, but in the short term, this issue was very sweet!

Happy New Year’s, everyone!

That’s it for this installment! Feel free to write me at brianc@cbr.com with suggestions for future Drawing Crazy Patterns!