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Marvel’s Christmas-Themed House Ads From The ’80s Are Bizarrely Jolly

It’s not often that I run across a piece of comic book Christmas ephemera that I’ve never heard of, but a conversation with my cowriter, Chad Bowers, included five magical words that blew my mind: Iron Man’s Santa Claus Armor.

Sadly, this didn’t actually appear in a story, but it did point me in the direction of a pretty weird (and pretty awesome) bit of Yuletide cheer. Back in the ’80s, the house ads for Marvel’s subscription service in comics that hit shelves in December were always holiday-specific. The prices may have changed over the past few decades, but the images of caroling supervillains, Spider-Stockings hung by the fireplace, and, yes, Santa Claus armor, are still pretty awesome. Check them out after the cut!For Christmas 1980, things were pretty simple, althogh that is definitely a wreath I would like to hang on my door:

In 1981, readers were treated to a very emphatic Benjamin J. Grimm, who seems to be wearing a hat and coat, but no pants:

For 1982 and 1983, Marvel dropped one of the most memorable images on us, featuring a trio of villains (or at least two villains and Magneto’s disembodied head) shilling for their comics as Christmas carolers. Dr Doom is just going for it, man:

In 1984, we got this bit of magic which, come April, I intend to identify as a leaked picture from the set of Iron Man 3. You have been warned:

In 1985, things were at their weidest, with Peter Parker taking a very inappropriate time for a sales pitch:

After pantsless Things, crooning Dooms and metal Santa hats, 1986 and 1987’s ad was decidedly understated. Still a pretty cool image:

And in 1988, Wolverine didn’t look quite as cheery as someone with a sack of toys probably should:

Sadly, by 1989, the ads had shifted back to just using stock art of the characters without a single Santa hat. Still, the ones we got were pretty neat — if they cleaned up the art and got rid of those offers for Psi-Force and Moon Knight, they could have some pretty nice greeting cards!

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