X-Mas with the X-Men

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Dec 16, 2018, 10:31 AM EST (Updated)

The X-Men are not generally known for their upbeat attitudes in life, so it might come as a surprise that they seem to really embrace Christmas as much as they do. On the other hand, people who have gone through significant trauma in life can get really gung-ho about the opportunities they have to forget their woes, so maybe it isn’t all that shocking that a team consisting of perpetually bleak characters would embrace Christmas with their whole hearts.

The X-Men features a diverse cast of people from all over the world, but most of their holiday stories centralize Christmas, likely because "X-Mas" is a pretty solid pun that never gets old. In fact, this is a team that has been having heartwarming Christmas moments on the regular since at least the early ‘80s and a sprawling cast of characters for about that long, so there are an awful lot of holiday tales in there. Although the X-Men have what would be termed as an at best atypical view on what Christmas actually is and how to celebrate it, everyone deserves a winter break, and the X-Men just might deserve one even more than most. Here are some of their most heartwarming romps into the world of holiday cheer.

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Uncanny X-Men #98/Marvel Holiday Special (1991)

Uncanny X-Men #98 begins with the X-Men going shopping at a mall during Christmas time, but they get attacked by Sentinels and Jean Grey, Wolverine, and Banshee are kidnapped to outer space. That story is amazing and it definitely features Jean Grey calling the villain of the story a Nazi and telling Wolverine that he’ll do what she says or else. It is well worth your time, but not that much Christmas happens in it.

That is until years later, when 1991's Marvel Holiday Special took a deeper look at the events in question, meaning that they essentially shoehorned in a Christmas story where once there had been none. It turns out that right before all the Sentinel stuff happened, the X-Men were also lowkey attacked while shopping by the early ‘80s version of The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, featuring such infamous villains as, um, Unus The Untouchable. What? You know him, right? It... doesn't matter if you don't, he just fights with Colossus for a while then they take off. The X-Men get it together just in time for half the team to be kidnapped and taken off world. They just forget to mention that any of this happened. Ever.

Here’s the thing - the X-Men can’t go to the mall. I mean, they do, but they can’t. They just can’t. It comes up again later. It never works out for them, and they should just stop trying. Now that online shopping exists, one hopes that the X-Men probably depend on that instead. They would genuinely be doing the world a favor if they just stuck to shopping at home. They get attacked in their house a lot too, but they get attacked every time they leave their house  way more.


X-Men: The Animated Series - "Have Yourself A Morlock Little Christmas"

It has been discussed at length that X Men: The Animated Series and its X-Mas episode both have a special place in the hearts of at least one FANGRRL, but no list would be complete without it. This is one very special X-Mas episode that hits all the marks for a great Christmas story: a Scrooge (Wolverine), orphans (Morlocks), comedic relief (Gambit and Jean Grey), and a well-meaning protagonist (Jubilee).

Wolverine is very angry at Christmas, but Jubilee talks him and Storm into taking her to the mall (uh… oh…) so she can buy everyone presents. Even though Jubilee is just trying desperately to fit in and enjoy her holiday, Wolverine absolutely refuses to lighten up. The group of subterranean mutants known as Morlocks shows up attempting to steal medicine to take back to their home in the literal sewer system of NYC. The X-Men are moved by their need and help them by using their limitless access to Xavier’s trust fund to help them. Just kidding, Wolverine insults them a lot for being poor and the others grudgingly agree to go check out their story to make sure they’re not lying just to get free medicine.

It turns out that a young kid really is dying, but more importantly, the X-Men and the Morlocks have drama with each other, so that takes up most of their attention. Almost by accident, the day is saved, and the X-Men decide to have Christmas dinner in the sewers just so they don’t have to invite the Morlocks to the gigantic mansion they live in that is specifically designed to help mutants in need because Wolverine is surprisingly classist.


Uncanny X-Men #365 - "Ghost of Christmas Present"

Most X-Men get a raw deal from life in general, but our friend Colossus gets screwed over so often that you start to wonder if there isn’t an ancient curse on him and, well, his whole entire family. Case in point: his younger sister Illyana, who was literally kidnapped by demons, raised in a Hell dimension, underwent not one traumatic death but two, and then shows up to lowkey haunt Colossus’ bedroom for this issue.

It turns out that Colossus has been leaving out art and someone has been filling out words for it. At the same time, he’s had troubled dreams and keeps feeling a ghost-like presence in his room. Despite the fact that the X-Men have 1) died and came back from the dead multiple times, 2) been to Asgard, and 3) lived the most bonkers lives imaginable, the idea that there is a ghost haunting Colossus is where they draw the line. Storm walks into his bedroom to gently chide him for waking her up with his pesky little night terrors, and when he tells her he’s being haunted she smiles condescendingly and tells him to stop drinking so much coffee before bedtime. This is just one of the many reasons Storm is the greatest X-Man - she is a true Scully and not even remotely here for your ghosts. A disheartened Colossus tells the story again to Kitty Pryde and Nightcrawler, both of which rag on him for drinking too much coffee. Again, many of these people have been to deep space and fought alongside aliens to gain control over a reality eating crystal, but ghosts are simply outlandish.

This all resolves a lot more neatly than one might expect, but seldom is Colossus the focal point of X-Men stories, so this is a nice look at his very intense inner world, and a return to focus on his interest in art. Colossus had at this point been with the team for years, but his need for solitude and his poetic soul had always set him slightly apart from the rest of the team. Giving him the spotlight for this issue was a great choice and the story rates among the best of its era.


Uncanny X-Men #148 - "Demons"

Kitty Pryde has always been an interesting character, and for a lot of fans, she really helped to define the mid-’80s run of Uncanny X-Men. Introduced to the team as a 13-year-old, Kitty was emblematic of kids that don’t fit in with people their own age and adopt friends of older age groups while struggling to work out their own social awkwardness. She was the point of view character for some time, and Uncanny X-Men #148 was one of the early instances of that.

The X-Men all have holiday plans, so the first part of the story is mostly just them all trying to leave the mansion while Kitty waves them off, excited to get in some alone time. Once they’re gone, she thinks about her parents and her role on the team. Eventually, she gets bored and goes to work out, only to be attacked by a rogue alien that had been watching her from the margins throughout the story. This story is a lot of fun, and it shows Kitty using all of her skill to escape with her life while ever so slightly wrecking the mansion. Let’s face it, you can’t really “latchkey kid” the X-Men. This is a group that needs constant supervision.

One important thing in Kitty Pryde’s life is her Jewish heritage, so you occasionally see her pop up in a predominantly Christmas-oriented story to let everyone know that she’s cool with it and just likes hanging out with her friends and family regardless of their faith. Most Jewish people are probably fairly used to having this discourse with their chosen family, but it is a shame that we so seldom see Kitty’s celebrations of or interactions with her heritage beyond that. All of it aside, she appears in most X-Men holiday stories, and she is consistently delightful in every one of them.


Generation X #4 - "Between The Cracks"

Generation X saw a recent reboot that was pretty amazing, but the series originally began in 1994, the exact moment when that team name would be the absolute most relevant. Although it saw a lot of changeups in the creative team over its run and wasn’t always the most consistent title, it holds up fairly well, in no small part due to the presence of a regular cast of characters that included X-Men greats like Banshee, Emma Frost, and Jubilee matched up with newcomers like Chamber, Husk, M, Skin, and Sync.

This story is bleak and even Jubilee has a pretty rough time trying to have fun with it, so bear with us. Well before shootings became commonplace, this story gave us the tale of Elliot, a young man who believes himself to be a mutant, mercilessly teased at school and more or less emotionally abandoned by his family, holding up a school. The police aren’t exactly sympathetic, but when classic ‘80s villains Nanny and the Orphan Maker show up, things get drastic. Jubilee sneaks into the classroom to talk it out with Elliot, who isn’t a mutant after all. Rather, he is disabled, and his disability has caused him to be persecuted.

The mutant metaphor comes under question at times due to the fact that the team is supposedly persecuted for their genetic mutations but also comprised of stunningly beautiful characters with passing privilege. This story was one of the few to examine that, and, while not flawless, it remains an interesting, heart-wrenching Christmas tale with an uncomfortable level of prescience of the modern age.