Quick comic comments holiday edition

December 17, 2005

At this time of year, I’m always on the lookout for something a little caustic to cut the taste of artificial sweetener in the air. Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris is a reliable tonic, and I keep my fingers crossed that NPR will air the readings of the stories again so I can hear Julia Sweeney’s rendition of “Seasons Greetings to Our Friends and Family!”

Last week, the comics shop provided a couple of seasonal satires. One worked much better than the other.

I had a mixed reaction to Dan Slott’s GLA mini-series, feeling that it couldn’t quite decide if it was a satire of a grim super-hero comic or just a grim super-hero comic. But Slott’s GLX-mas Special (Marvel) is a real treat. It features the grade-Z super-team in stories that are alternately funny, wistful, barbed, and clever. Slott gives a hilarious spin to recent recruit Squirrel Girl with nice art by Matt Haley. Paul Grist’s pencils on the Doorman story are a welcome addition, and Ty Templeton does sturdy work on the continuing saga of poor Grasshopper. It’s a fun mix of styles and tones, with just enough sentiment to balance out the snark.

I’m less taken with Paul Dini’s Jingle Belle: The Fight Before Christmas (Dark Horse). Dini is one of the most reliably funny writers in comics, but these stories about Santa’s daughter fall a bit flat. In the lead tale, Jingle and feline rival Tashi put their differences aside to give their friends a moment in the spotlight. Then it deteriorates into a predictable catfight when a boy gets thrown into the mix. “Oh, Christmas Tree” doesn’t have much in the way of ambitious satire (Bush is a dimwit), and even an incontinent yak can’t quite bring the funny. My favorite of the stories was the sweet “Hot Rod Lemming,” largely for the psychedelic children’s book art of Jose Garibaldi.