Comics : Spider-Man's Christmas
This story is part of a Lookback Series: The Magic of Color
This review was first published on: May 2015.
These 17" x 22" super-sized colouring books were produced during the 1970's and 80's. This one... "Spider-Man's Christmas" was published in 1984 and was the last to feature Spider-Man. It contains either 32 pages or 24 pages, depending on which version you happened to pick up. The 24 page version had 8 pages carefully edited out of the story, with captions juggled so that it still contains a continuous narrative.
In any case, it contains an original Green Goblin story. And I really do mean original. Hang onto your hats, as this one's a doozy!
Year 1984 : SM Title
Summary: 17" x 22", 32pp/24pp
Like most books in this series, this one features 32 or 24 black and white newsprint pages. It contains a single original story, this one featuring Spider-Man, Aunt May, and the Green Goblin.
We begin with Peter Parker at the Daily Bugle with Jonah Jameson, dropping off some photos of Spider-Man catching pickpockets at the mall. Peter then heads back to the stores to buy some last minute presents for the orphans at the orphanage where Aunt May is helping out. He battles the angry Christmas crowds and wonders where the Christmas Spirit has gone to. He also muses over the Green Goblin's latest threat... to RUIN CHRISTMAS!
Wha? Huh? Has somebody confused the Green Grinch with a Marvel villain?
It certainly seems so. Peter heads to Aunt May's house, just in time to catch Aunt May heading off to deal with a crisis. The heat has been turned off at the orphanage. And Peter soon learns that the orphanage landlord is none other than... NORMAN OSBORN!
Oh no! Spider-Man races to the orphanage in time to see Aunt May bound to a chair. The Green Goblin knew that turning off the heating would bring Spider-Man running! Spider-Man is captured under a steel net (his Spider-Sense presumably being disabled by the cold, perhaps?) Now the Green Goblin is free to release his army of indestructible robot elves to steal all the presents from under children's Christmas trees, thus simultaneously wrecking the holidays, while also stealing millions of dollars in toys!
Fortunately, Spider-Man uses his webbing to hit the "raise net" lever, freeing himself and a grateful old lady. Our web-slinging hero then webs up the robots, and wraps up the villain too. Christmas is safe, thanks to Spider-Man. YAY!
I hate to go all "accountant" on you here. But I can't help but imagine that an army of independent robotic elves capable of breaking and entering and stealing must actually be worth a great deal more than any pile of toys. Surely Norman could have just sold his robot technology legally, to the U.S. military?
Then again, where's the fun in that, that wouldn't RUIN CHRISTMAS!
No, honestly. I'm not joking. That really is the story. I understand your doubt in this matter. But truly, genuinely, what I have described is a completely accurate summary of the events in this book.
The year 1984 marked the beginning of writer Suzanne Weyn's professional career. She was later the scripter of the equally out-of-context Summer Fun with the Marvel Super Heroes, before she then went on to write twenty (non-Marvel) novels (with more yet to come I'm sure).
So how did she dream up this unusual Spider-Man tale? I can offer only two theories. Either she knew nothing about Spider-Man, just made a bunch of shit up, and artist Jim Mooney (who should have known better) was laughing too hard to register any objection. Either that or... well, some kind of massive LSD party was involved and... something.
Oh, I don't know what to do. The Green Goblin turning off the heat at the orphanage? Robot elves?
Just take the five webs and get out of here before I recover.
If you're looking at buying a copy of this book on eBay, I'm afraid to say that I can't see any good way to determine if you're looking at the 24pp version or the 32pp edition without actually counting the pages. My 32pp version has a yellow binding, while my 24pp copy has red binding. But I really wouldn't rely on that. I've seen many of these books with red, blue and yellow binding tape with no obvious pattern or preference, and I certainly wouldn't guarantee any consistency.