Marvel Madness

That Time J Jonah Jameson Experienced a Christmas Carol

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Well folks, it’s December here on Marvel Madness, which means that it’s time to talk about Marvel’s various insane attempts to bring Holiday joy to their comics. I’ve been talking about Christmas stories here for the last few years, and they’ve been a pretty consistent source of insane Marvel nonsense, and one of the most fertile sources of those stories were the fun little Marvel Holiday Specials that they used to put out each year. Just a series of strange vignettes, themed to the holidays, and featuring some very strange stories featuring some very unexpected characters. I feel like the creators were given pretty free reign to pick whatever silly character they love to tell whatever weird story that they wanted to tell, as long as it was holiday themed. I’ve done several of these stories, and they’ve always been fun, but when I began looking up the various potential stories to tackle this year, I came across one that I was completely stunned I hadn’t found before. Because this year I’m sharing a short story with one of my favorite Marel characters of all time J Jonah Jameson. And, like so many stories that attempt to take well known characters and make it feel like Christmas, it’s a loose retelling of A Christmas Carol. That’s right, who’s ready for some J Jonah Jameson as Ebeneezer Scrooge action?

The story begins with Jonah angrily storming around the offices of the Daily Bugle, watching as everyone is decorating for a Christmas party where the employees are responsible for absolutely everything. He’s complaining about the whole thing, not exactly liking Christmas, and getting into a debate with Peter Parker about the whole holiday. He doesn’t want to have to pay people for a holiday, and he generally seems against all sorts of holiday cheer. We also learn the very unsurprising fact that Jonah doesn’t help with the holiday party at all, and has the employees pay for the catering and booze. He only helps by not charging them for the utilities they use. And, while Jonah is in mid-tirade he gets word that an incident involving supervillains has begun on the docks, which they picked up over the police scanner. Jonah immediately sends Peter out to take pictures, and then heads into his office to start checking the local news channels to see if they’ve been scooped by them. Which, is apparently a well-known euphemism among the Bugle staff for Jonah taking a quick nap. And, as Jonah snores on the couch in his office, he’s suddenly accosted by a surprising visitor.

 

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So, yeah, we’re officially in our Christmas Carol riff, and that means we’re going to have to start things off with an appearance from Jacob Marley. Which, is weirdly taking the form of Norman Osborn. You would think that it maybe would have been someone who worked with Jonah, but there really isn’t a solid partner of Jonah’s who could fill that role other than Joe Robertson, but he’s not dead, so I guess that’s doesn’t track. Regardless, he’s here to tell Jonah about being chained down by obsession and hatred, letting it dominate your life until you’re a bitter shell of a man. Which, does track pretty well with Jonah and his all-consuming Spider-Man hatred.

Norman then starts threatening Jonah, telling him that he’s heading down a similar path, unless he radically changes his ways. And, while Jonah is busy having terrible nightmares of ghosts and goblins, we see that things are escalating pretty terribly with the thing going on at the docks. Ben Urich is there, hiding behind a box, and watching as the Avengers deal with a mysterious force bubble that’s slowly growing, nothing the heroes are able to do to stop it’s destructive path. And, while Ben is loudly talking with the folks at the Bugle, asking if Ben can somehow get a quote from Captain America. And, hearing someone in the newsroom say “Captain America” manages to seep into Jonah’s ears, causing Captain America to show up in his dream. Which obviously means that he’s here to be Jonah’s Ghost of Christmas Past, sending Jonah down a trip through memory lane.

 

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Jonah seems pretty comfortable with Cap, since he’s the only masked hero that he actually respects and appreciates. Which, certainly helps Jonah get vulnerable when they take a trip into the past, seeing a young Jonah spend all of the money he earned selling newspapers to buy his mother a fancy hat that she wanted, giving Jonah a genuinely heart-warming Christmas memory, and a reminder that he hasn’t always been a stingy jerk. But, while this does give Jonah a momentary bit of joy, he quickly slips back into anger and confusion, still believing that this is all some strange con, full of illusions.

And, to rub it into Jonah that this is all real, Cap transports them to Jonah’s old room, where little Jonah is sitting reading comic books about the various heroes of the World War II era, showing that Jonah used to be a huge fan of heroes, a fan of these masked crime-fighters who righted wrongs. All until a masked man killed his first wife, and he became the man he is today. Jonah insists that costumed heroes are the greatest threat to the world, and rails against them, even when Cap shows him memories of New York a few Christmases ago when the X-Men fought the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants as they attempted to take over the world. Cap tries to explain that these hated heroes risked everything to save people, knowing that no one would even know about it. And, that does kind of strike Jonah a bit, but before he can really come to terms with this minor revelation he gets his next visitor. And it’s great.

 

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Aw hell yeah. It’s the Thing, everyone. Which, is a little weird, since Ben Grimm is one of the few prominent Jewish superheroes, which makes it a little weird that he’s here starring in a Christmas story. But, whatever, he’s here to rough Jonah up and take him for some trips through Christmas present. And, he’s not here to reassure Jonah and show him nice fuzzy memories, he’s here to pick Jonah up and toss him around town, seeing what various people are currently up to for Christmas. And, weirdly, their first trip is to the Baxter Building, where the rest of the Fantastic Four are busy roasting chestnuts and passing out presents. And, Jonah doesn’t really get too impressed by it, realizing that the Thing is just trying to show him that superheroes are like regular people too sometimes, which isn’t really something he’s overly interested in.

So, Ben brings them to their next stop, which just so happens to be Aunt May’s house. Jonah recognizes May and Mary Jane as “Parker’s people,” and seems surprised that they’re spending Christmas Eve together, alone. Until Ben tells him that Peter is off getting pictures of the dock battle, like Jonah told him too. Jonah realizes that he frequently sends Peter off to very dangerous situations, meaning May and MJ are often put in this position. And that tinge of guilt is made much worse when Ben transports them out to the dock, where things have escalated quite a bit. The Avengers are now fighting the Wrecking Crew, and things are getting quite violent. Which, is made so much worse when Jonah spots Peter, about to be crushed by one of the Wrecking Crew.

 

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But, before we see the gruesome death of Peter Parker, Ben Grim whisks Jonah away for one last vision of Christmas present. And folks, it’s a doozy. Because the Thing ends up taking them to a sleazy bar somewhere in Manhattan, full of extremely sad looking individuals, drinking their misery away on Christmas Eve. Jonah is disgusted that he’s here, and has no idea who he could possibly know that would be in such a dive, when Ben brings him face to face with famed astronaut/werewolf, John Jonah Jameson, III. That’s right, according to this magic dream Jonah son is in New York, without him knowing, and is spending Christmas falling off the wagon and drinking alone, because he knows his father is such an unpleasant person that he wouldn’t want to spend the holidays with him.

So, that’s pretty bleak. And Jonah is very depressed at this point. But, it’s also the end of his journey with the Thing of Christmas Present. And, much like the appearance of Captain America, his next visitor is heralded by a conversation going on in the newsroom. Because things are escalating quite quickly at the dock battle, and Ben Urich is loudly keeping everyone informed of the action. Including the fact that Spider-Man has just shown up to help out. Which, means that the Ghost of Christmas Future is going to be our Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man. Of course. Which, as you can guess, is not exactly something that Jonah is pleased about.

 

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So, much to Jonah’s consternation, Spider-Man grabs him by the seat of his pants, and throws him into the future. And, they head straight to a snowy park, where Jonah finds himself face to face with a large statue of a group of superheroes. In fact, it’s all the heroes who were at the docks. Because they apparently died from fighting that mysterious orb. And, in the face of that destruction, Jonah finds himself with one question. Did Peter Parker survive the incident? And, Spider-Man doesn’t have to answer that, leading Jonah to break down in tears. They then head to where Aunt May and Mary Jane are currently living, dealing with the death of Peter. And, it’s pretty sad.

We also learn that in the future, without Peter’s amazing pictures, the Bugle has gone out of business, and their building is about to be turned into apartments. And, what’s more, with the Avengers and Spider-Man killed in the explosion, the world has now fallen into chaos. There aren’t enough superheros, and the various villains have decided to act together, taking down whatever heroes are left, and leading to a state of constant chaos. Oh, we also learn that John Jameson has become homeless, but the reasoning for that isn’t exactly made clear. But, that last bit of horror is enough to shake Jonah out of his dream, coming into consciousness in his office. Jonah races out of his office, and find Peter Parker there, alive and well. Because, the dock incident actually went off without a hitch, and everything’s fine now. Oh, and John Jameson has shown up, ready to spend the holidays with his father. So, everything’s going great, and in lieu of a Christmas goose, Jonah proudly announces that he’s going to happily pay for the Bugle Christmas party. Well, until he gets the tab at the end of the night.

 

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This was maybe a little more schmaltzy than most of the Marvel Madness posts I usually make, but I still liked this story quite a bit. I adore J Jonah Jameson, and the idea of putting him into A Christmas Carol in the Scrooge role is really great. It works perfectly, especially with Peter Parker put into the Bob Cratchet position. I also really liked seeing Captain America, the Thing, and Spider-Man places onto the various ghosts in the story. The Thing maybe tracks the least, especially because Jonah doesn’t really have that much of a relationship with him, but the other two are great. I love the way that Cap is the only superhero that Jonah respects, kind of revealing the whole hypocrisy of his whole hatred, and he works really well as a representation of nostalgia. And, while it’s a little obvious, Spider-Man being the ghost of Christmas future, being the representation of everything that could be wrong with Jonah’s future. I don’t super buy the idea of Jonah being so powerfully moved by the potential death of Peter Parker, but it ends up working well the in the story. I have a very goofy story to be hitting later in the month, but it felt right to do something a little more emotional here at the beginning of the month. Can’t we all just appreciate a happy J Jonah Jameson?

 

 

“Jonah’s Holiday Carol” was written by Tom DeFalco, penciled and inked by Takeshi Miyazawa, lettered by Clem Robins, colored by Christina Strain, and edited by Ralph Macchio, 2004.

 

 

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