Yesterday, I wrote about Marvel’s special reprints of holiday-themed stories in the mid-1970s. Throughout the 1980s, although Marvel’s business boomed and a few holiday stories were released in the regular monthly titles, the annual special reprints of holiday stories fell by the wayside.
However, Marvel rectified this in the early 1990s as they released a series of annual Marvel Holiday Specials from 1991-1996. These were new collections of mostly original holiday stories. However, they were released in standard comicbook size as opposed to the oversized editions of the 1970s. They also carried on the tradition of clever wraparound covers, as seen below from the 1993 Marvel Holiday Special by popular comics artist Art Adams.
However, the late 1990s resulted in a major comics market bust, and even Marvel itself had to file for bankruptcy. Subsequently, these holiday-only books were understandably cut. But it wasn’t too long until Marvel got back on its feet and new holiday books were released.
Marvel Holiday Special resumed annual publication in 2004 and was revisited through 2011. Again, the holiday books sported clever covers and a plethora of Marvel’s most popular heroes.
For some still-to-be-explained reason, the annual holiday special for 2009 was renamed Marvel Holiday Spectacular and featured the relative newcomer Red Hulk alongside the classic green Hulk. Well, I guess green and red are the traditional Christmas colors. Also in 2009, Marvel collected many of their holiday stories into a digital series starting with the Marvel Digital Holiday Special. They released four digital collections of previous holiday stories as Marvel Holiday Magazine and have continued releasing them since.
Marvel also continued to publish printed holiday specials, including two Gwenpool holiday specials in 2015 and 2016. It seems that this popular new character is an ideal subject for holiday books.
Doubtless Marvel will continue to produce holiday-themed comics for decades to come. They make great gifts and aren’t particularly tied to any ongoing continuity, making them perfect entry points into the merry, mixed-up Marvel universe. So, whether you’re celebrating Hanukkah with Ben Grimm or Christmas with the Avengers, Marvel has just the right mix of holiday madness for you. Over 50 years of holiday Marvel magic is out there for every True Believer to read!