02nd Dec2020

eBuying Comics: Week 48

by Ian Wells

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Okay well only the first week of December but 2020 has been horrendous, so lets take the small victories. For a lot of people 2020 has been tough. Lockdowns, tier systems, furlough and social distancing. We have never experienced anything like this before. I hope in those challenging times the good people of Nerdly have kept you entertained. The comics industry itself has felt the effects of 2020. There were mass layoffs over at DC and countless books from all across the board have faced cancellation. A lot of the challenges thrown up by the pandemic have been met with exciting opportunities. The last two weeks in the pages of ‘eBuying comics’ I have done my little bit to help. This week I will be even more merry (’tis the season after all!) and be running down a few Christmas related comics. I don’t want to call the list ‘alternate’ as it contains a lot of mainstream books. I will say the list isn’t for Christmas purists. There are numerous Disney or Peanuts Christmas collections for them to sink their teeth into. This list caters more towards the type of people that count Die Hard as a Christmas movie. Actually lets take a moment to talk Christmas movies before we get into the comics. I just don’t know where people get off on saying Die Hard isn’t a Christmas movie. Die Hard and its brilliant sequel are both set on Christmas Eve for starters. At thier center is a story about a husband and wife just wanting to be home for the holidays. If Home Alone is a perfectly acceptable Christmas movie than so is Die Hard! What is the criteria for being a Christmas movie anyway? Just being set over the holidays? If so Ghostbusters 2, Batman Returns and Ronin are all valid inclusions. How about movies that are always on over the holidays but aren’t remotely festive? I’m thinking along the lines of any Indiana Jones installment, E.T. and a good Connery or Moore era James Bond movie. I first saw Cliffhanger one Christmas Eve and I always remember that whenever I watch it again. Plus it has a s*!t load of snow. Lastly I would like to add Into the Spider-Verse (I stole this from someone on my Twitter feed) and Batman: Mask of The Phantasm into the mix. The first BTAS movie had its original theatrical release over the festive period and didn’t raise many eyebrows. The fact that since then it has become a firm fan favourite and is met with critical acclaim makes it top three Batman movies of all time easily. The fact it has that little link to the festive period makes it feel like the ‘Lil Bat that Christmas forgot. Now comics…

As always all valuations are supplied by comicspriceguide.com and are for 9.8 NM/M raw copies.

Carrying on with the Bat theme he may not immediately seem like the type of character to have a lot of time for Christmas. Crime after all doesn’t take a vacation and neither does Batman. You could argue Batman or is it Bruce has some similarities with Scrooge if you swap vigilantism for crime fighting, it’s a stretch I’ll admit. First up is #184 of’ The Brave and The Bold’. Mike W. Barr and Jim Aparo team for a story titled ‘Batman’s Last Christmas.’ It kind of plays along the Scrooge trope with Batman coming to the conclusion his father would not be pleased with how he has conducted himself and thus decided to give up the cape and cowl. Worth seeking out for a good festive read and not overly expensive with £9 the current calculation for 9.8 raw grade. Next up is ‘Batman: The Long Halloween’ #3 by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale. The twelve issue max series covers a year in Batman’s early career so it was obvious it would cross X-Mas at some point and this issue is also the introduction of Joker into the plot. It brings home a modest valuation of £4.20. With the success of Batman The Animated Series an companion comic series was never to far behind. ‘Batman Adventures Holiday Special’ #1 came out in 1994. Apart from having all the usual suspects providing writing or pencils including Bruce Timm, Paul Dini, Kevin Altieri and Glenn Murakami this issues biggest claim to fame is having the ‘Harley and Ivy’ story eventually adapted into an episode of the series. Everyone knows Harley Quinn is big news, DC’s answer to Deadpool in a way so this festive one shot will set you back around the £30. Which brings us to the most expensive comic on the list. ‘DC Special Series’ #21. DC Special ran for four years between 1977 and 1981 so what makes it’s twenty first issue so special? Frank Miller on art duties for his first ever Batman story! Other legends are present in this anthology issue including Garcia Lopez, Kanigher, O’Neil and Ayers.All of whom contribute to the £60 valuation. But the money is in the beginning of the Batman/Miller love affair. The story is also available in another festive anthology. ‘Christmas With The Super Heroes’ #1 from 1988 is much more afffordable at £4.20. The Miller pencilled story was penned by Denny O’ Neil and it sees Batman on the trail of a crook who works as a department store Santa. This issue not only started Miller’s career on Batman it also I suspect started a trend for Christmas comics set in department stores. Just two examples I found are Hulk #378 (£3.15) by Peter David and Bill Jaska. The Bob McLeod cover tells you everything you need to know Gray Hulk vs Rhino in full Santa garb! Then there is Wolverine #49 (£4.50) from the third volume. The story sees Logan come to the aid of a millionaires spoilt daughter and teach her the real meaning of Christmas.

Sticking with Wolverine we move into the X-Men section of the list. After all Christmas should be spent with family and the X-Men were hash tagging family before the Fast and Furious franchise made it a meme. Uncanny X-Men #205 is described by many as the ‘Die Hard’ of X-Men Christmas comics. Wolverine takes on the roll of John McClane facing off in New York City against Hans… I mean Lady Deathstrike. Obviously it is written by Chris ‘Uncanny’ Claremont but the pencils, inks and colours by Barry Windsor Smith are what makes this issue a tour de force. It recently appeared in my X-Men mega sale but went unsold, so I can tuck up in bed with it one more time before the big day. Watch out for it in the new year because my was half price of its valuation at 9.8 for £10.50. Uncanny X-Men #143 brings us our second most expensive comic on the list at £45. Two key factors play into this high valuation. It was the last issue of X-Men dream team Chris Claremont and John Byrne working together. More importantly it is Kitty Pryde getting left home alone before some smart ass kid hit the big screen. This issue went a long way to solidifying Kitty’s popularity and legend status. If you  like the family element of Christmas and have a pining for ‘Outback era’ X-Men then Uncanny X-Men #230 (£4.20) is the comic for you. Marc Silvestri joins Claremont to tell the story of the teams first X-Mas in their new Reavers hideout as they use Gateway to return a bounty of stolen goods all in one night!

Back on the side of the loners Daredevil has four notable Christmas-centric issues. Kicking off with #206 (£6) by O’Neil and Mazzucchelli with a brilliant cover by Ed Hannigan. The plot revolving round a tribe of savages may not scream Christmas but there is a Christmas party scene where Kingpin and Daredevil have a truce of sorts… no spoilers its Christmas after all. Just twenty three issues later it is X-Mas again in New York for Daredevil. Mazzucchelli too returns, this time joined by Daredevi master scribe Frank Miller for the third installment of the epic ‘Born Again’. In #229 (£5.25) who can forget the sight of Turk dressed as ‘Ol Saint Nick shanking a forlorn Matt Murdock? Ann Nocenti and John Romita Jnr had a very successful and popular run on Daredevil in the late 80’s. #253 again another issue coming in at £4.20 is a dual story of how DD and Kingpin are spending the holidays. The cover is Romita gold. I have this issue but I really need more of the Nocenti run in my collection!

Next up is a selection of books I can only describe as odds and ends but in the kindest possible way. In 2001 Spider-Man featured in his own anthology series called ‘Spider-Man’s Tangled Web.’ The series would have a plethora of the industries biggest names working on Spidey. None come much bigger, or well love and respected than Darwyn Cooke. He wrote and drew a Christmas story in the series penultimate issue #21. Pick this up if you want an education in visual story telling. Just based on the cover I would say if you know a kid who loves ‘Into the Spider-Verse’ gift them this comic. Even a top grade valuation is inexpensive at £3.70. Again if you want top story telling and beautiful visuals seek out the Hellboy Christmas Special (£4.20). Same price but bigger issue! More bang for your buck as Hellboy regular Mike Mignola is joined by Steve Purcell, Gary Gianni and Geof Darrow. In the same fantasy vain as Hellboy is the Vertigo series Fables. #56 (£3.15) is one of only comics on the list to have an actual appearance of the man in red himself. Which brings us onto the oddist of odd balls on the list. A character that screams everything but Christmas. Even the title is amazing. I give you Lobo’s Paramilitary Christmas Special #1 by Keith Giffen and Alan Grant. How many other Christmas comics feature the word paramilitary? How many Christmas comics see the jolly fat man placed firmly in the cross hairs of DC’s ‘Main Man’? Only one can survive!

Last but by no means least two issues of IDW’s current Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles run that do that very festive thing and warm the cockles of your heart. Both issues come in at £4.20 and £4.30 respectively. They are #5 and #89. Both are written by Tom Waltz and Kevin Eastman with art by Michael Dialynas and Mateus Santolouco. The IDW series does a brillaint job of making all the past elements of TMNT whether it be from the cartoons, movies or other comics feel fresh again. #5 is the debut of the coloured bandanas and it is so beautiful in its simplicity thats all I need to say. Oh apart from read it! #89 is a very different story but while it takes place between two major story arcs that sees the brothers at odds with their own father it still manages to tug at the heart strings and deliver some very familiar festive scenarios all readers would have experienced at some point! Top marks!

If you do one thing this festive period, gift someone some cool comics. Oh do two things actually. Go read some cool comics yourself!


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