Well folks, we’re rapidly approaching the holiday season, which means it’s time for me to start breaking out some Christmas articles. Now, I’m not nearly the fan of Christmas as I am of Halloween, so things won’t be quite as jolly as they were spooky in October, but there’s still some fun and weird stuff for me to bring up here on the site. And, just like last year, I have some special Marvel stories to discuss this month. I’ve found two very enjoyable Christmas-related Marvel comics to talk about this year, and we’ll be starting things off with another entry from the terrific Marvel Holiday Special comics that Marvel put out back in the early 2000’s. Last year we got to enjoy a story where a lonely woman accidentally transformed an Ultron unit into Santa Claus and watched as he attempted to kill the Avengers. It was a hoot. And, I don’t know if I managed to find a story that tops that one, but I certainly found one that was weirder. Because, we’re about to talk about Fin Fang Foom, and how he worked with Doctor Strange’s assistant Wong to save New York during Christmas-time. Buckle up.
The story begins in the tumultuous days before Christmas in New York city. The city is bustling with people doing their best to get their presents while generally acting like assholes to each other. And, among these racing and raging citizens is Wong, loyal assistant to Doctor Strange, the Sorcerer Supreme. Wong is walking around the busy streets, doing his shopping, and commenting on how different New York is from Tibet. Which, yeah Wong, not exactly a deep insight. He watches the crude Americans storm around, and even gets pushed into an alley by some racist guy, which is when he runs into a weird man in a trench coat and a fedora. But, this isn’t a story about how Wong meets a flasher. Or even the Thing, who also wanders around in a flasher outfit. No, the person in his trench coat is Fin Fang Foom.
Okay. So, if you aren’t familiar with Fin Fang Foom, I’ll try to explain his backstory as simply as possible. He looks like a dragon, but he’s actually an alien being from a planet called Kakaranathara. His people look like dragons, but they also have some shape-shifting abilities, which lets them drastically change their size depending on what the story requires. His people came to Earth and settled in ancient China where they were treated like gods. Most of his kind either died or left Earth, but Fin Fang Foom stayed on Earth to become a legend. Sometimes he’s good, sometimes he’s evil, and sometimes he’s very animalistic and sticks superheroes in his little purple pants. He’s complicated. And, he’s hanging out in a New York alleyway while Wong stands starstruck.
Wong is apparently a huge Fin Fang Foom fan, and promptly beings fanboying while Fin Fang Foom couldn’t care less. Foom has a head-cold of some kind, causing some fiery sneezes, and he really doesn’t want to waste time talking to some annoying human. But, Wong doesn’t give up. He keeps following the dragon, trying to talk to him about his many famous exploits, much to Fin Fang Foom’s chagrin. And, while they’re walking through the streets they don’t notice a large flatbed truck heading down the street, towing a massive Santa statue. We do see a police officer come and yell at the truck, but when he does that the driver takes out a ray-gun and blasts the cop. So, with their cover blown, they decide to drop the pretenses, and activate the Santa sculpture. Because it’s not just a sculpture. It’s a robot. And who are these guys?
Yep! A small splinter-cell of Hydra have built a massive evil robot, designed it to look like Santa Claus, and then had it become a Hydra Santa so that it can destroy New York. Oh, Hydra. Not exactly the brightest bulbs. But, they’re apparently quite good at building deadly Santa robots, because this one quickly starts to destroy everything in its path. Which is really starting to bother Wong. He decides that he’s going to fight the Santa, and any of the Hydra goons he can get his hands on, but he’s afraid that he won’t be enough. Wong’s a gifted martial artist, but maybe not exactly equipped to fight a mech. But, you know who is capable of doing such a thing? Fin Fang Foom.
Unfortunately He Whose Limbs Shatter Mountains and Whose Back Scrapes the Sun is not very interested in helping Wong. He’s far too busy being a grumpy curmudgeon, and is preoccupied with his cold. Plus, he says that he hates the smell of humans, and in general dislikes the entire race, so he’s fine with just walking off and letting this giant robot kill as many humans as possible, because then there’ll be less to bother him. Wong is pretty horrified by this notion, but there’s clearly no changing the mind of this giant dragon. So, he says goodbye to his disappointing hero, and goes off to fight the hordes of Hydra on his own. And he does okay. Wong’s a very gifted fighter, but he’s extremely out-numbered, and eventually a Hydra thug gets the drop on him and lands a sucker punch. But, right as the Hydra soldier is about to execute Wong, something wonderful happens.
Surprise, surprise, Fin Fang Foom had a change of heart and comes to Wong’s rescue. Wong assumes that this was all some sort of test, to prove his bravery before Fin Fang Foom would help him. But, apparently it was just that the dragon felt sorry for Wong. But, regardless of the why, he’s here to help now, and with his mighty powers they’re able to make short work of the Hydra soldiers. He’s even able to strap the Santa back onto the truck, and then use his fiery sneezes to ignite the truck’s gas tank, destroying the horrible robot. So, things seem to have worked themselves out. The robot’s destroyed, Wong’s mythical hero lived up to his hype, and Christmas is saved!
Well, until a second, completely unrelated group of Hydra shows up. They aren’t here for backup though. This is a separate group of Hydra soldiers, and they just so happened to have their Christmas-themed terrorism plot planned for the same time. And theirs involves anti-mater tinsel. Wong and Fin Fang Foom watch as the two Hydra factions insult each other, until Foom grows bored and instigates a fight. Wong and Fin Fang Foom then step back while the two Hydra factions fight each other, until they’re able to swoop in at the end and take them both out of commission. And, after another thrilling fight, they finish off the hordes of Hydra and watch as some SHIELD agents come to arrest them. Wong then thanks his legendary hero, and asks him why he helped, if he disdains humans so much. Fin Fang Foom doubles down on the idea that humans are horrible, but also adds that no one should ever have to fight alone. Wong is honored to have fought alongside such a figure, and offers to cook him a meal, and let him relax at the Sanctum Sanctorum, but Fin Fang Foom clearly doesn’t feel comfortable having a closer relationship with a mortal, so he politely excuses himself, and the two heroes go their separate ways.
This story is a goddamn delight. Just like all of these Holiday stories, it’s a short tale, just part of an anthology. But a lot of silly and fun details get packed into these few pages. The idea to take Wong and Fin Fang Foom, two characters that I think it would be charitable to refer to as C-List and make them the stars of a Christmas story is ridiculous, and yet it works so wonderfully. Fin Fang Foom is such an absurd character, and I’m kind of shocked I’ve never discussed him before on the site. Personally my favorite version of the character will always be the insane one that appeared in the pages of the glorious NextWave, but he’s a lot of fun in this story as well as the grumpy old monster who doesn’t care about humanity. And, seeing him begrudgingly help Wong, the rare human who was kind to him and who displayed a selfless need to do right, was very enjoyable. I also love to see a completely silly version of Hydra, where a turf war breaks out between two shitty factions who can’t communicate with each other. Plus it’s all bolstered by Roger Langridge’s fun and cartoony penciling that perfectly accentuated the goofy tone that this whole story tells. It’s not the deepest story, but we got to see a mythical dragon in a trench coat destroy a Hydra-themed Santa Claus robot, so I’ll take it.
“How Fin Fang Foom Saved Christmas” was written by Scott Gray, penciled by Roger Langridge, colored by Soto Color’s J Brown, and lettered by Dave Lanphear, 2006.
Categories: Marvel Madness