Ho, ho, ho, Merry : wait a minute! As I sit and write this, it is Nov. 8 and we are still a little over six weeks away from Christmas.
Now, I know that Christmas items are already popping up in stores, and related advertising is showing on television. The holiday sales season gets longer every year, and while annoying, I can live with that. However, I have a bone to pick with Marvel Comics.
This past week, they released the Marvel Holiday Magazine in comic book shops. Now, I understand that comic book shops get issues earlier than regular newsstands, and usually this is a good thing. However, in the case of holiday special issues, perhaps those should be released to the specialty shops a bit closer to the time that they are released to other vendors. I’m not trying to be like Scrooge here, but six weeks is just too far out to expect readers to want to read about Doctor Doom as Santa Claus and Nightcrawler as one of Santa’s elves.
As for the issue itself, I was not terribly impressed. Perhaps some of that is due to the feeling that it is too early, but that’s not the only problem. The issue is magazine size, and that aspect is nice. Rather than just one or two stories, a magazine allows for several stories and features. The question then becomes if the content is worth the time, effort and money. For me, the answer is no.
A number of the stories in this magazine are reprints of previously released content, some that are truly classics. This is something that while eluded to on the front cover (with the statement plus a never-before-seen X-Mas) I don’t believe was emphasized enough on the cover. Readers should know how much of the content is new when purchasing a magazine such as this.
Even in the table of contents, it is not clear which stories are reprints and which are new. Would it have really hurt the editors to have put the original year of release in the story description?
I will say that the choice of the classic stories Tis the Season and I’ll Be Doom for Christmas was a good one. A number of different heroes and teams are featured in truly heartwarming scenes. The stories were a bit cheesy, but that works in this type of magazine.
Also on the cover is the statement featuring merry Marvel’s biggest heroes and a partial list of heroes and teams that appear in the issue. Now, not everyone has the same favorites, and I daresay that every title, team and hero that has appeared for more than just one or two issues probably has someone who truly loves them.
However, I was disappointed to discover that out of an issue that has 104 pages, 40 of those pages are stories about the Great Lakes Avengers (reprinting the one-shot GLX-Mas Special from 2005). I’m sure there are many GLA fans out there, but let’s be honest: How many of today’s readers have even heard of that team?
To have almost half of the issue composed of a reprint of stories featuring a little known, seldom used team that is seen as mostly comic relief is truly sad. I felt as if the cover were misleading about the contents.
The highlight of the issue for me was the story X-Mas which featured not just the X-Men, but also the recently departed Nightcrawler. While initially a bit sad to see Kurt featured in this story, as I read it, I came to realize that this could be seen as a last holiday present from Marvel to the scores of fans who truly miss and mourn this beloved character. This story shows Kurt as his best, not just being your average hero, but sincerely caring about the people they are helping.
All in all, the Marvel Holiday Magazine was released too early, and some of its content was not exactly consistent with what the cover indicated. Quite frankly, this is not the kind of thing I have come to expect from Marvel Comics.
If you have not yet purchased this magazine, I would skip it. If you really want it for your collection, wait about a month and perhaps you’ll be able to better enjoy the good points of the issue.