Today we take a look at whether J. Jonah Jameson would risk his own life to uncover Spider-Man’s secret identity.
It’s our annual Comics Should Be Good Advent Calendar! Every day until Christmas Eve, you can click on the current day’s Advent Calendar post and the Advent Calendar will be displayed with the door open for that particular day and you can see what the “treat” will be for that day! You can click here to view previous advent calendar items. This year’s theme is a Very Dope 90s Christmas! Every day will be a 90s Christmas comic, possibly stories with a specific 90s (depends if I can think of 24).
This year’s advent calendar, where the grunge Santa hands out a ’90s gift, like a Tamagotchi, while posing with four superheroes wearing the most ’90s costumes around, belongs to Nick Perks.
And now (a little late) Day 21 opens (once opened, the door will contain a panel from the featured story)…
Today we look at 1996’s “Not a Creature Was Stirring” from Marvel’s 1996 Holiday Special by Mark Waid, Pat Olliffe and Brett Breeding
One of the things that doesn’t play out so much in the whole “J. Jonah Jameson is way too obsessed with Spider-Man” angle is Peter Parker’s role in perpetuating Jameson’s anger at Spider-Man. I don’t just mean the fact that Peter sells pictures of himself for money or that Peter has even taken pictures of himself over the years (which really doesn’t get the attention it deserves, and kudos to Mark Waid for finally getting the man is who said “yeah, no, Spider-Man editing news photos, even for noble reasons, would never fly” during the Brand New Day era), but I mean how Peter’s worst personality issues are magnified when he hangs out with Jameson. You have the journalistic ethical stuff, but you can also see how much fun Peter takes messing with him. I don’t blame him, of course, but at the same time, as evidenced by this excellent short story by Mark Waid, Peter’s indulgence in his feuds with Jameson often gets Peter into whole new problems (and for a man who routinely fights super villains, he really doesn’t need NEW effort).
For example, the story begins with Peter taking pictures of Jameson distributing toys to needy children, using toys that are clearly very outdated. Jameson then chides Peter for the bonus he promised him for coming out on Christmas Eve to take the publicity photos. And then there’s the thing, because Jameson messed with Peter, Peter decides he should mess with Jameson. But Peter is specifically mad at Jameson for letting Peter take publicity photos while Peter is supposed to spend Christmas Eve with his wife. So when the gig is over and Jameson Peter stiffens up (only giving him bus ticket home), DOES Peter go home as he ONLY complained? Or does he follow Jameson to a warehouse full of old, cheap toys? You bet, he’ll do it later. And for what purpose? He clearly has no way of using the information he learned here, so…what was the point? Just to satisfy his curiosity about where Jameson got the toys? Who cares? Mary Jane is home! She’s probably wearing unrealistically skinny lingerie! So that’s what I mean about Peter being his own worst enemy sometimes when it comes to Jameson.
And of course, the roof of the warehouse collapses under Spider-Man’s weight and he and Jameson are both trapped and may freeze to death on Christmas Eve. But there is a twiiiiiiiist…
You see, Jameson grabbed for Spider-Man’s mask when he fell on him and he has it now. Spidey has used the last of his webbing (I’m sure Waid appreciated writing a “Spider-Man touches web fluid” story. It’s like a rite of passage) to create a temporary mask.
However, Jameson knows Spider-Man’s webs well enough that he knows they will dissolve in about an hour (I’ve always wondered about that a bit, by the way, there’s a comic book that shows what Spider-Man’s webs look like) right before it’s like “all good to be gone” or does it dissolve slowly?), so despite the fact that he can move a beam that allows Spider-Man to free them, he’d rather wait an hour and discover the secret identity of Spider-Man…
(And yes, since Jameson later learned Spider-Man’s secret identity, these old secret identity stories are losing a bit of a reread ommph, but that’s neither here nor there).
Jameson waits for a while, but eventually, as he begins to lose sensation in his toes, he agrees to save Spider-Man, as long as Spider-Man promises not to tell anyone that Jameson saved him. James is okay with that deal…
But then, of course, it turns out that a TV news helicopter came out to cover the collapsed warehouse, only to find, and report live on TV, that J. Jonah Jameson just saved Spider-Man’s life…
By the way, the light from the helicopter that initially looked like a poinsettia reminds me of the sort of thing Denny O’Neil would do in these Christmas stories and we all know Waid was a fan of those stories (since he paid tribute to them in the Flash Christmas Story that opened up this look at 90s Christmas comics), so that’s nice.
The story ends with the Daily Globe clearly going along with the story and Jameson pays the needy kids of the past five dollars for every copy of the Daily Globe they can find so he can destroy them. That seems like a HUGE financial outlay, doesn’t it?
Even though this story is generally very well done, I think it probably would have been better if we had seen Jameson say something to the kids in the beginning, when he’s Santa Claus, about a clever businessman or something, because otherwise The kid’s comment isn’t exactly a recall.
But either way it’s still a really good story and Olliffe and Breeding have done a masterful job as always as they are both two top pros.