It’s that time of year again where comic fans sit down and get cozy for the holidays. And surely there is no better way to prep for all of the festivities than with a giant stack of holiday comics!
So whether you’re gearing up for Christmas, Hanukkah, or just looking for some winter cheer, here’s a list of some of the best yuletide funnies that the decades have to offer.
1. AMBUSH BUG STOCKING STUFFER (DC, 1986)
Writer: Robert Loren Fleming
Artists: Keith Giffen, Bob Oksner, Anthony Tollin
Arguably the most ridiculous holiday special DC has ever released. With digs at the commercial nature of Christmas, politics, the comic book industry, comic book fans, and…well, basically anything else you can think of, this gloriously irreverent, completely juvenile, hilariously sardonic mess of a comic really does make the perfect stocking stuffer.
2. JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #60 (DC, 2002)
Writer: Mark Waid
Artists: Cliff Rathburn, Paul Neary, David Baron
With the delightful sort of holiday ruckus you can expect from writer Mark Waid, Plastic Man is trying his very best to convince a friend’s son that Santa is a full member of the Justice League. And honestly, why wouldn’t he be? It takes something super to be Santa, after all. But Santa’s new powers also get introduced! And who knew Santa would need heat vision?
3. “THE SILENT NIGHT OF BATMAN” (DC, 1970)
Mike Friedrich, Neal Adams, Dick Giordano
Since 2018 and 2019 have become a big years for fans coming to terms with the idea that maybe Batman needs a break sometimes, too, this early 70’s Batman is kind of perfect. Batman — who is normally completely against the idea of standing down and letting loose — takes the time to enjoy Christmas Eve. The only reason it’s possible is because the people of Gotham — inspired by his example — keep things under control so that he can have a merry evening. Oh please. That’s touching as hell.
4. KLAUS (BOOM! STUDIOS, 2015)
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Dan Mora
It’s a common theme within the comics world to say that Santa is a superhero. It’s classic and heartwarming and carries a fantastic message. But the beauty of Klaus — aside from the actual visual beauty of Mora’s artwork — is that the story begins restrained and even-paced before ramping up to a true Robin Hood-like story where Santa is the outlaw with the ability to bring joy to people who are overcome by a fascistic state. But also, and with everything else aside, Morrison and Mora gave us the unprecedented gift of hot Santa.
5. DCU HOLIDAY BASH II (DC, 1998)
Writer: Devin Grayson
Artists: William Rosado, Sal Buscema, Lee Loughridge
Santa. Versus. Darkseid. End of.
6. HELLBOY KRAMPUSNACHT (DARK HORSE, 2017)
Writer: Mike Mignola
Artist: Adam Hughes
Taking a break from the idea of Santa, Mignola and Hughes take a welcome turn to tell a story about the central-European Christmas monster, the Krampus. And what better way to ring in the holidays than to see our beloved Hellboy pitted against the satanic spirit of Christmas?
7. SPIDER-MAN’S TANGLED WEB #21 (MARVEL, 2003)
Writer: Darwyn Cooke
Artist: Jay Bone
I really shouldn’t need to go any further after you read the name Darwin Cooke, but just in case: the premise of the story finds Spider-Man entangled in a plot that frames him as a criminal. There’s a reason that the real title for the story is “Twas the Fight Before Christmas” as the story captures the hectic feeling of rushing around and things continually going wrong on Christmas Eve.
8. FLASH GORDON HOLIDAY SPECIAL (DYNAMITE, 2014)
Writer: Dan McCoy, Elliott Kalan, Stuart Wellington
Artists: Joseph Cooper, Stephen Downey, Lara Margarida
If there’s seasonal festivities down on Earth, surely there are some in deep space as well. And thanks to this holiday themed spin-off of the 2014 Flash Gordon series, we get to find out why Dale Arden hates New Year!
9. MOON GIRL AND DEVIL DINOSAUR #37 (MARVEL, 2018)
Writer: Brandon Montclare
Artist: Gustavo Duarte
It’s just not the holidays without a dinosaur! And who better to fill in for Santa than the notoriously grinch-y Lunella Lafayette and the jolly red Devil Dinosaur when the kids of Yancy Street are in need of some yuletide joy? If Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur weren’t already one of the most charming titles from Marvel, this winter issue is the thing that should seal the deal.
10. FAITH’S WINTER WONDERLAND SPECIAL #1 (VALIANT, 2017)
Writer: Marguerite Sauvage
Artists: Francis Portela, MJ Kim
Faith remains one of the most pure figures of optimism and cheer, and that gets ramped up even more for the holiday season. This story ticks all the boxes of a traditional holiday comic while providing a fantastical all-ages read and an uplifting message about the need for imagination.
11. SUPERMAN’S CHRISTMAS ADVENTURE (DC, 1944)
Writer: Jerry Siegel
Artist: Jack Burnly
Acting as one of the very first DC holiday specials, Superman’s Christmas Adventure is, fittingly, completely wholesome and absolutely nuts in a way only golden age comics can be. But at the end of the day, when some dudes named Mr. Grouch and Mr. Meaney take their rocket-ship to the North Pole to steal Santa’s reindeer, what better way to help Santa deliver toys than having Superman be the replacement for the reindeer? (This was the golden age of comics for a reason, folks).
12. GREEN LANTERN: THE ANIMATED SERIES #8 (DC, 2012)
Writer: Ivan Cohen
Artist: Luciano Vecchio
I bet you didn’t know Hal Jordan was Jewish! Wait…Hal Jordan is Jewish? Well, it certainly looks that way as this title sees Hal using the story of Hanukkah to help save an entire alien race!
13. GIANT DAYS HOLIDAY SPECIAL #1 (BOOM! STUDIOS, 2016)
Writer: John Allison
Artists: Max Sarin, Lissa Treiman
John Allison writes a holiday special that is light on the literal aspects of Christmas while sticking to the wonderful message of the season in a very It’s a Wonderful Life way. Set in the style of Marvel’s What If…? comics, the basic premise revolves around Esther, Daisy, and Susan had never met in their first year of university. Things are topsy turvy, but by the end of the tale each of the friends realizes just how much their friendship contributes to their lives. Awww!!
14. DC HOLIDAY SPECIAL #1 (DC, 2017)
Though this entire special is utterly delightful, The Sgt. Rock Hanukkah story from writer Tom King and artist Francesco Frankavilla is the story that truly shines. Told through the lens of WWII, a Jewish-American private and a Nazi officer are trapped together after an explosion, and the Jewish private is suffering from a horrible wound. However, he has the Nazi held at gunpoint the entire time; and just like the same light that refuses to go out, the private refuses to die. It’s entirely touching and a beautiful homage to Sgt. Rock creator Joe Kubert’s legacy of the title, including the message that even the horrors of war have honor and nobility to be found in it.
15. MARVEL HOLIDAY SPECIAL (MARVEL, 2005)
Writer: Jeff Parker, Mike Carey, Shaenon Garrity
Artists: Mike Perkins, Roger Langridge, Reilly Brown
What says Christmas more than a comic where the antagonist is an evil robot version of Santa created by Virgie Hanlon? Nothing! But when the robot decides to reek havoc on the Avengers Christmas party, Spider-Man comes up with the best plan to save the day. But lets be honest: the real gift of this title was a very touching speech from Captain America about the importance of believing in something during this time of the year. Wholesome AF, par usual.
16. SENSATIONAL SHE-HULK #8 (MARVEL, 1989)
Writer/Artist: John Byrne
If you’ve never been introduced to the wackiness that was John Byrne in the 1980’s, I will go no further than to let you know that while She-Hulk is in the middle of a case involving a serial killer, she is visited by Nick St. Christopher — a jolly, chimney-climbing, teleporting little man who is…apparently the world’s greatest detective? Yes. Yes, good.
17. LOBO PARAMILITARY CHRISTMAS SPECIAL (DC, 1991)
Writer: Keith Giffen, Alan Grant
Artist: Simon Bisley
So if the Easter Bunny were to say…put out a hit on Santa Claus in a fit of jealousy, who would you say is the best person to execute the job? Lobo, obviously. And once at the North Pole, but after successfully decapitating Santa, Lobo loads up Santa’s sleigh to drop some holly jolly nuclear weaponry all over the world. That’s the spirit.
18. KRAMPUS (IMAGE, 2014)
Writer: Brian Jones
Artist: Dean Kotz
If the idea of there being a Secret Society of Santa Clauses isn’t enough to entice you into this bizarre story, maybe you’ll be more interested when all of their Santa powers are stolen and the only person who can help them is the child-punishing demon of Christmas lore, the Krampus. It just gets better as the Krampus is understandably a bit of a Grinch, but that comes with some biting wit, great one-liners, and some pretty nasty commentary in this modern take.
19. CHRISTMAS WITH THE SUPER-HEROES #1 (DC, 1988)
Writers: E. Nelson Bridwell, Mike Friedrich, Bob Haney, Paul Levitz, Dennis O’Neil, et al
Artists: Neal Adams, Nick Cary, Dick Dillin, Jose Luis, Frank Miller, et al
While the first of Christmas With The Super-Heroes is objectively an entirely wonderful collection of wintery-themed tales, the stand-out stories remain “Wanted: Santa Claus — Dead or Alive” featuring Frank Miller’s first-ever solo swing at Batman that has the Dark Knight hunting down a former thief dressed as Santa. But, more importantly, “The Teen Titans Swinigng Christmas Carol”, that stands as an astoundingly gauche pop art masterpiece as the Teen Titans reenact the famous Christmas Carol story by Charles Dickens. We’re getting camp for Christmas!
20. BATMAN ADVENTURES HOLIDAY SPECIAL (DC, 1995)
Writer: Paul Dini, Bruce Timm
Artist: Bruce Timm
Spinning off of the popular series from Tim and Dini, the four stories collected in these pages show Gotham being terrorized by the very best of Batman’s villain roster. However, the one that really stands out is the one for Harley and Ivy, which is so full of gags and slapstick [and low-key femme flirting energy] that it just had to be adapted for the show itself later on.
Didn’t see your favorite on here? Let us know! I for one am always looking for some new favorite holiday comics, so let us know what yours are in the comments!
Happy Holidays, all!