Over on one of my other blogs (Texas Pop Culture), I like to look back to when our favorite comic book superheroes visited my home state of Texas to punch, fly, swing and smash their way across familiar landmarks in the search for justice. With the holidays fast approaching, I thought the most recent issue I looked at would be nice to feature here as well so let's take a trip back to 1983 to when our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man spent "Christmas in Dallas"!
This one was another freebie from the Dallas Times Herald and the once great newspaper gets a cameo on the first page by setting the scene and kicking off the story. A mysterious and sinister set of hands peruse the news of the day in a conspicuously evil manner...
This issue is a sort of sequel or follow-up to a previous story where Spider-Man teamed up with the Dallas Cowboys and Dallas millionaire Stanley Mudge. On this particular yuletide season, Mudge is throwing a party to raise money for orphans and wanted to treat his old pals J. Jonah Jameson and Peter Parker to the festivities. He and his son Mark (also from the previous story) even show up to the airport to greet the traveling New Yorkers.
Don't forget about that anti-gravity device...it might be relevant down the line. So while the gang heads back Mudge's ranch, those sinister hands from the first page reveal that they belong to none other than the Kingpin! The sinister crime boss frequently finds himself to be Daredevil's perennial punching bag in Hell's Kitchen but he's come to Texas to pick on someone his own size:
What?!? He cold cocks Santa?!? Now that's how you establish evil intent from an antagonist. Although there is the possibility that the unconscious Kris Kringle is just a Santa impersonator. The story never really makes it clear. But what is clear is that he was on his way to the Charity Ball and that the Kingpin (who has been steadily climbing up the rankings on the naughty list for many years now) will be taking his place...and it won't be to spread holiday cheer.
Well things go pretty much how you'd expect them to go. The Kingpin attacks. His henchman take hostages. But before the rich party goers were able to be ransomed off, Spidey swings into action! Even Mudge pitches in with the help of the new version of his anti-gravity invention (remember that thing from before?).
Looks like the Christmas party can resume. Alls well that ends well: J. Jonah gets flummoxed, Peter gets a free ride home in Mudge's private jet to spend Christmas with his aunt and, I assume, a lot of money was raised at that charity ball for the orphans and whatnot (remember that thing from before?).
While it was a fun adventure, I have to say I was a little disappointed with this one. Dallas (and by default, all of Texas) was really only a part of the story in name only. Not even a quick skyline panel. But at the time it was free so I can't really be too hard on it. And in the spirit of the holiday season I'll leave you with a present...the Spider-Man Christmas Tree Word Hunt that was toward the back of the book! Happy hunting!