Comics : Marvel Holiday Special 2007
This review was first published on: 2008.
The third story "Secret Santa" is a "Loners" tie-in tale that manages to find new boundaries of maudlin and sentimental, and push them in uninteresting directions. Spider-Man isn't in that tale (other than a "Reference" of a Spidey doll held by a toddler waiting in line to see Santa). That means we can jump straight to this fourth story - "The Meaning of Christmas".
Marvel Holiday Special 2007 (Story 4)
Summary: Spider-Man Cameo
Lester works for the Daily Bugle, in their Features department. His department head tells him that he's fired unless he comes up with something spectacular by 6pm. So Lester heads off to see Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four. Seems Lester previously interviewed Reed, and Reed agrees to see him again now.
Reed has a prototype teleporter, and sends Lester off to various places to see how Christmas is celebrated by... The Inhumans, the Asgardians, Silver Surfer, Namor, and various other one-panel cameos including an Alternate Universe Spider-Man. One of those he visits is the Skrulls.
Lester returns with his report, and his supervisor thanks him for the information and agrees to hire him for another year. The supervisor (Irving Griffen, perhaps an in-joke?) acts oddly, and we soon discover why. He's a Skrull spy, whose top-secret mission is to discover the true meaning of Christmas.
This is only a six page story, and it does a passable job of getting through it all. It's pretty silly stuff, and a few of the gags fall a bit flat, but the final gag - the idea that the Skulls are spying on Christmas, is actually quite clever, and goes a long way to redeeming some of the earlier weak spots.
Far from perfect, but the twist in the tail is enough to justify this one. Let's give it a perfectly adequate three webs, and wrap up the Marvel Holiday Special for another year.
In Asagard, Volstagg is celebrating Christmas by drinking mead. One of his fellows says "Volstagg, we're pre-christian gods, you knew that, right?"
Of course, this gag falls a bit flat when you know that Christmas is actually a pre-Christian festival, one that was simply picked up and adapted by the Christians. Those early Christians were very good at doing that sort of thing. Most of their festivals are derived from pagan ceremonies, usually tied to natural planetary cycles. In this case, the Winter Solstice (shortest day) which occurs around the 21st of December.