Christmas Special: A Marvel Comics Christmas, Part Two
Yesterday at the store, my pal Jim--known to most of you message-board lurkers out there as CapVsBats, stopped by, and we exchanged presents. He got me Sex and the City Season 1 on DVD. Apparently, I looked a little puzzled, and he felt the need to explain himself.
"You're always saying you don't understand women," he said, "so I figured this would help."
That sentence alone makes it a great gift.
In return, I got him what may actually be the perfect Christmas gift for anyone who likes anything: Essential Marvel Two-In-One.
Kevin described it as five hundred pages of the Thing + _____ = Beatdown, but that's not the reason it should be at the top of your Holiday wishlist this year.
It should be there because it features the most ass-kickingest Christmas story ever printed.
"Silent Night, Deadly Night"
Writer: Steve Gerber
Pencils and Cover: Sal Buscema and Mike Esposito
I've always had the feeling that the story of the birth of Christ would be better if it had a super-powered orange rock monster and a flame-headed demon from the depths of Hell itself, but now I know for sure. And it is.
Our story kicks off in the Arizona Desert on Christmas Eve, with the Ghost Rider taking a sharp curve and narrowly avoiding a skull bike-on-Camel collision as he meets the Three Wise Men. Yes, those Three Wise Men. On camels. I told you this was the best Christmas comic ever, and I mean it.
The Ghost Rider of this story is the same version that we last saw kicking it with the Legion of Monsters--he's got the flaming skull, but it's Johnny Blaze calling the shots. That's why when the Three Kings explain that they're riding towards a newly-shining star, Ghost Rider stands around in slackjawed silence and doesn't give the Magi a gift of soul-eating Hellfire. They invite the Rider to join up on the trip, but since the Skull Cycle is a heck of a lot faster than a camel, Johnny decides to ride ahead and check it out.
See, over in his own title, Johnny's been saved by Jesus. I mean, he hasn't been baptized or anything, there's literally this mysterious bearded guy who pops up with wise advice from time to time and helps him fight Satan. Johnny, whose religious education extends only to some books on the occult that he found laying around a stuntman's Winnebago, never quite makes the connection, but he takes off in an awfully big hurry to find this kid everybody's talking about.
Oh, and he also drops a bit of casual racism:
Well, he did grow up in a carnival. And besides, he's not exactly thinking clear:
Meanwhile, back in New York, Benjamin J. Grimm, the ever-lovin' blue-eyed Thing himself, is helping Reed Richards build a telescope so he can check out the new star that appeared on Christmas Eve. Reed, of course, admonishes Ben to be careful with the lens, like he always does, which just begs the question as to why the smartest guy in the world gets his friend the giant rock monster to help him move fragile equipment around anyway. They get the telescope together, and Ben offers to go check out the town the star's pointing to while Reed enjoys his Christmas party with the rest of the FF. But alas, such is the life of a Jew on Christmas.
Back in the town, Ghost Rider pokes around and finds that the residents "don't look like Semitic types at all. They seem to be--American Indians!" Wyatt Wingfoot's people, to be exact, but before he can make any sense of this discovery, Ghost Rider runs across the mastermind of the whole thing outside of the Manger and is smacked out of town. The Thing arrives, mistaking the Ghost Rider's flaming skull for a flare, and the two of them decide that the best way to get into the ersatz Bethlehem would be by knocking out two of the Wise Men and sneaking around in their clothes.
I'll go through that one more time: This comic's plot centers around The Thing and and the Ghost Rider dressing up as the Three Wise Men in order to sneak into the manger where the possible second coming of Jesus Christ lays, no crib for a bed.
ATTENTION, BALTHAZAR: YOU ARE NOW FREAKING OUT.
As it turns out, the whole thing's a plot by the Miracle Man, last seen in 1961's Fantastic Four #3, who decided that the best way to achieve godlike status would be to use his own mystical power to immaculately create the new Messiah. Unfortunately, his plan doesn't go quite as well as he thought it would. Ghost Rider runs off to save Jesus II from a fire, while the Thing goes head to head with the Miracle Man, and, well, you know what time it is:
And true to the spirit of Christmas, violence solves everything. Things around the reservation go back to normal, Wyatt Wingfoot agrees to look after the immaculately conceived infant who has the soul of an ancient mystic, and the next issue box advertises the Thing and Iron Fist in "kung fu action as you've never seen it before--and may never want to again!"
Now that is how you write a Christmas team-up.
More ISB Stocking Stuffers:
| Ant Man's Big Christmas |
| Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose #17 |
| Santa Saves the DC Universe! |
| The Worst Christmas Song Ever |
| A Marvel Comics Christmas Part One: Marvel Team-Up #127 |