The 5 Most Insane Christmas Comics Of All Time
Despite the fact that a good chunk of my floorspace is taken up with long boxes and bookshelves, I consider myself more of a "reader" than a "collector," except for two things I hoard shamelessly: Christmas comics and Abraham Lincoln appearances. If I see Santa Claus or our 16th President in a comic book, I buy it -- no questions asked.
And as a result, I've picked up my share of Christmas stories that are truly bizarre -- and considering this is a weird little sub-genre that routinely features stories about Ultron being reprogrammed to give out toys, Batman stopping all crime in Gotham City by singing "Joy to the World" with the GCPD choir, and a Jack Kirby tale entitled "Santa's War Against the Seal Men," that's saying something. So this year, I've rifled through the comics under my tree to bring you The Five Most Insane Christmas Comics of All Time!
When you start talking about weird holiday comics, The Lobo Paramilitary Christmas Special is the one that always comes up, and with good reason.
For those of you who aren't familiar with him, Lobo -- who first appeared in a comic where he looked like the illegitimate child of Ace Frehley and the Solid Gold dancers -- was an interstellar bounty hunter who rose to prominence as a parody of the ultra-violent anti-heroes that were gaining popularity in the '80s, but was then embraced by the same audience he was spoofing, which caused him to go even more over the top until the lines were completely blurred. Even his origin, in which he's the last of his race because he killed everyone else on his home planet in what's clearly a joke about how to make a super-badass version of Superman, is still cited in comic shop arguments as the #1 reason why he could totally beat up the Punisher. In other words, he was Deadpool before Deadpool was cool.
And in this comic, the Easter Bunny hires him to kill Santa Claus.
I am 90% certain this was done just so that Keith Giffen and Simon Bisley could high five over the fact that they were getting super-serious metalheads to buy a comic in which the hero took orders from the Easter Bunny. Either way, Lobo takes the deal and what follows is the wholesale slaughter of the elves at the North Pole in a sequence of pages so gloriously, evisceratingly violent that you'd swear you were reading Infinite Crisis.
Eventually, he makes it to Santa Himself, who -- just like in all the stories you heard growing up -- lives with a gorilla.
Santa challenges Lobo to a knife fight and -- this being a Lobo comic -- Lobo not only wins, but uses Santa's list, sleigh and reindeer to drop nuclear warheads on every child in the world. And then, in the framing sequence, a man kills his family with a shotgun. And then Lobo literally gives the reader the middle finger.
That One Guy With The Ponytail hailed it as "the best f---in' Christmas story, like, ever, man," just before he got a tattoo of barbed wire around his bicep.
Back before they hit the big time with The Walking Dead, Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore created Battle Pope, which was essentially an exercise in seeing just how blasphemous a comic could be without literally bursting into flames the second it was printed.
The series followed the post-apocalyptic adventures of Pope Oswald Leopold II, who -- after being the latest in a line of pontiffs trained to fight by Bruce Lee -- was condemned for his hard-drinking, womanizing ways by being left out of Heaven when Judgment Day came and demons overtook the Earth. And his sidekick is Jesus, who is... well, I don't want to dis a guy on his birthday, but Kirkman and Moore's version is not what you'd call very bright.
And as for the Christmas special, well, it's a lot like what you'd expect from a comic where the Pope gives Jesus a blow-up doll for Christmas on the cover, except slightly more sacrilegious,
In addition to the Pope and Jesus, this one (as you might expect), focuses on Santa Claus, who as it turns out has a long-standing feud with the Messiah. Jesus is mad at Santa for overshadowing His birthday with presents and candy canes, while Santa has beef with Jesus because of the thing where His Dad damned him to eternal torment along with the rest of the world.
Fortunately, Santa apologizes and Jesus forgives him -- that's pretty much His deal, after all -- and they all get to spend Christmas with Mary, who came down from Heaven to visit Her Son:
Seriously, the fact that Kirkman achieved massive creative success after this comic was published rather than a record for the highest number of times one human body has ever been struck by lightning is the kind of argument for atheism that Richard Dawkins dreams of.
Mark Andrew Smith and Dan Hipp's Amazing Joy Buzzards are a three-man band -- including a half-yeti bass player -- that travels around the world rocking out and having adventures that would make Josie and the Pussycats jealous. In a lot of ways, it's Smith and Hipp's answer to Hanna Barbera cartoons like Jabberjaw and the far more obscure (but way more awesome) Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kids, except that instead of having a talking animal sidekick, they have an unstoppable mystical luchador named El Campeon that they can summon in times of trouble by shouting "Go El Campeon Go!"
So basically, it's the best comic book ever.
And in the 2005 Image Comics Holiday Special, it was revealed that Biff, Gabe and Stevo aren't the only ones who can summon El Campeon:
Yes, when Santa Claus is attacked for his Christmas magic by Black Peter -- depicted in the story as a Trent Reznoresque sinister counterpart to St. Nick who hauls allegedly wicked children off to work in his mine until they turn into trolls -- Santa summons El Campeon, and together they beat the living cranberries out of the usurper.
As for just why Santa has the ability to call a Mexican Wrestler Genie to aid him in times of trouble, that's simple:
They used to be the Tag Team Champions, back when Santa was an underground pro wrestler. That thing I said about this being the best comic ever still applies.
I don't even think I need to explain this one. In fact...
I'm not even sure I could explain this one.
Up to this point, the comics we've discussed have all been relatively recent, but if you want to hit the real heights of storytelling madness, you've got to go to the Golden Age, and outside the work of Fletcher Hanks, it rarely gets more insane than the original Wonder Woman stories.
There are actually a quite a few weird Golden Age Wonder Woman Christmas stories, but while most people would go for the one narrated by a tree where Wonder Woman gets spanked with a door by Nazis, I prefer the outright kookiness of Sensation Comics #38, in which she attempts to trick poor children into believing in Santa Claus. It might sound like a pretty standard plot, but I've looked, and trust me: there aren't a lot of Christmas stories that involve both bondage and kids being menaced with dynamite. Usually it's just one or the other.
The whole thing starts with Wonder Woman in her civilian identity hearing from an underprivileged street urchin that, after years of holiday neglect, has decided that there ain't no Santy Claus. Clearly, this Scroogery cannot stand, and thus WW resolves to bring toys to him to convince him that there's good in the universe after all.
And to do this, she of course relies on her invisible plane:
The invisible plane is unquestionably the dumbest vehicle in comics history -- up to and including the Justice Jogger -- and here's why: Not only is it an airplane that can only fly if Wonder Woman hauls it up on the roof and throws it into the air herself with her lasso tied around her waist so that she can be dragged through the air, it's friggin' invisible, and yet Wonder Woman still needs to hide it in a barn. If I had an invisible plane, I would assume that keeping it hidden would be taken care of.
Also, it's worth noting that Wonder Woman trimmed her costume with white fur for Christmas, which is something I really think her current costume could benefit from.
Anyway, Wonder Woman goes to the kids' tenement to give them presents, and she's promptly brained by the kid's mother, who mistook her for her brother-in-law, a mobster with the truly awesome name of Joe Bamko. Unfortunately, Joe has the kids in a secret basement where they've been tied up on a case of TNT, and -- this being a Golden Age Wonder Woman comic -- Wonder Woman is immediately tied up and given orders:
Then they break into a gigantic vault of gold (which for some reason is right next door to the tenement building) and make Wonder Woman bend over and carry their haul out on her back:
And then they give her a golden shower.
By which I mean they shower her with actual gold bars in an attempt to kill her and cover their crime. Wait, what did you think I was talking about?
Rather than freeing herself, Wonder Woman makes sure to protect the kids until she's eventually freed by Steve Trevor, and then she goes to punch people until everything works out okay, which it does:
And so, we all learn a little about the True Meaning of Christmas and the love people can have for each other, and a whole lot about William Moulton Marston's and the love he had for stories where Wonder Woman was tied up and made to obey. Merry Christmas, everybody!