When you think about characters that are well-suited for saving Christmas, it's hard to come up with one more perfect for the job than Michelangelo the Ninja Turtle. Not only has he been making some pretty significant appearances under the tree for a solid thirty years, but of the four brothers who make up the team, Mikey's the one who's full of childlike wonder and the sense of fun that allow one to be swept up by Christmas magic.
That's probably why he's the character who ended up starring in the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Christmas issue back in 1985, in which he befriends a kitty cat, brings joy to a bunch of orphans, and actually Saves Christmas. Which, you know, also involves hijacking a truck and crashing through at least two NYPD roadblocks. Saving Christmas can be complicated, folks.
Sakura Tsukuba's Sweet Rein tells the story of Kurumi, a teenage girl who discovers that she's a Santa Claus when she encounters Kaito, a wispy and beautiful boy who is also sometimes a reindeer, and who is quite literally bound to her with an invisible rein that compels him to obey her commands. Also, they are in love.
It is, without question, the single most bonkers premise I have ever encountered in a lifetime of reading Christmas comics, and I've saved the second volume for an entire year waiting to read it. And folks... it does not disappoint.
The weird thing about Santa Mythology is that while we're all pretty solid on what he does now --- you know, the North Pole, the elves, the sleigh and the toys, all that good stuff --- the origin story is a lot harder to pin down. I suspect this has a lot to do with the fact that our modern idea of Santa Claus has been cobbled together from sources as disparate as a the life of a 4th-century saint, an advertising campaign for Coca-Cola, the stories of Thor's dad, and a series of stop-motion animated specials, but still. It leaves a lot up in the air.
Which is how you end up with stuff like "Santa's First Christmas Trip," in which we get an origin for the jolly old saint that takes the basic premise of "hefty toymaker delivers his wares to children" and goes right off the rails to banditry, frostbite, and the unanswered mystery of Santa's little brother.
After roughly four million installments of this column, it's probably pretty clear that I have a deep and abiding love the stranger side of old comics. That's one of the reasons that we're living in the best possible time to read comics, in an era when there are folks out there with a focus on digital preservation and archiving, which has given rise to an entire cottage industry of books like I Shall Destroy All The Civilized Planets, The League of Regrettable Superheroes, and Boody that put the focus on to the forgotten heroes of eras past. The latest entry into that shelf full of bizarre anthologies is Super Weird Heroes, an anthology curated by Craig Yoe, and folks, it kicks off with a doozy.
See, the book opens up with one of many heroes who took the name "Atlas." What sets this guy apart, though, is that unlike all these other Silver Age long-underwear characters all of his super-powers are real! For... certain values of real.
Thanksgiving is just over the horizon, and that means that it's time once again for the annual bout of anxiety about spending time with your relatives. If it gets bad this year, though, maybe you can take a little comfort in knowing that even Supergirl has problems dealing with her family when they come to town .
It's not Superman who's the hassle --- although you really have to think that the conversation about him just dropping her off at an orphanage an hour after she landed on her new home planet had to be awkward, and for better or worse, Argo City's utter cosmic destruction headed off any difficult conversations with her parents well before they could be a real problem. No, it's her conniving older sister Kranna who's so hard to deal with.
So let's talk about the Jimmy Olsen Fan Club for a minute.
I love Jimmy Olsen, and I will go to bat for him as being one of the single greatest comic book characters of all time, but even I am occasionally mystified by the fact that in the canon of the Silver Age, he had a worldwide fan club whose members thrilled to his every adventure, purely by virtue of just being Some Guy Who Knew Superman. I mean, Lois had a fan club, too, but that makes sense. She's an ace reporter and a go-getter. But I've read a lot of Jimmy Olsen comics in my day, and I don't know that I've ever seen any indication that he's actually any good at his job.
Perhaps the weirdest thing about the Jimmy Olsen Fan Club isn't that it exists, but that it once inadvertently caused Jimmy, Superman, and Supergirl to screw up so bad that it took a dozen tiny Supermen to fix it.
Every October, I like to scour my own archives for the spookiest back issues available, but this year, one found me. It's like something out of a scary movie --- I went to my barber for a haircut and, mixed in with the regular magazines in the waiting area, they had an issue of The Brave and the Bold. It was one that I'd never read before, a terrifying team-up between Batman and the Spectre where they confront a mad sorcerer who wields the eldritch power of the Dragon God.
And when I looked up from reading it, I discovered that the barber shop had closed down... ten years ago this very night!
With the season of spookiness upon us, I thought for sure that the one thing I was guaranteed to get from 75 years of seafaring adventures was a story where Aquaman had to fight a ghost ship. It's one of those things that feels like it has to have happened at some point, but... here we are. As near as I can tell --- and please tell me if I'm wrong about this --- there has never actually been a story where Aquaman took on an undead crew of pirates out for blood and vengeance.
The closest we ever got was a story where he actually teamed up with one instead --- and even that didn't happen until 2011.
Moonchild was one of the strips that ran in Misty, which was originally conceived by Mills as a sister title for 2000 AD, complementing the sci-fi directed primarily at boys with supernatural spookiness aimed at girls. Unfortunately, Misty wasn't as successful, and was later merged with a similar title, Tammy, before finally getting the axe in the mid-'80s.
The good news, though, is that thirty years after its last issue, Misty finally saw a reprint this year, and while its take on the popular horror of the day isn't quite as over-the-top as, say, Judge Dredd's take on America as a concept, it's still well worth checking out.
It's finally October, friends and neighbors, and that means that it's the spookiest time of year: Halloween Season! That frightfully fun time of year when we turn our attention to stories about Draculas, Frankensteins, and the various other haints that perplex our favorite heroes --- and believe it or not, that's actually a little more difficult than it sounds. The same years that produced the comics I often focus on for Bizarro Back Issues --- the height of the Silver Age --- were also the years when the Comics Code Authority put a stranglehold on supernatural content, giving us two solid decades without a single wolfman to speak of.
And yet, they somehow let this story where Supergirl uses demonic skeleton magic to turn into a full-on Satan slide right through in the pages of Action Comics.
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