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Darwyn Cooke and Spider-Man ring in Day 15 of the Popverse Comics Advent Calendar 2022

It's time for that holiday staple, the office party (Sorry, Pete)

Popverse Comics Advent Calendar
Image credit: Marvel Entertainment

Every day of December counting down to Christmas Day, Popverse is hijacking the grand tradition of the Advent Calendar to share a moment from a holiday comic of yore. What else could you want from a classic combination of comic books and the yuletide gaze? Today, it’s the turn of 2003’s Spider-Man's Tangled Web #21, a celebration of Spider-Man and his amazing friends from the iconic Darwyn Cooke titled, of course, '’Twas the Fight Before Xmas!'

Popverse Comics Advent Calendar
Image credit: Marvel Entertainment

While this joyful yuletide confection does, in fact, offer a fight that takes place before Christmas — in classic Marvel fashion, it’s a guest-star-filled saturnalia as the Puppet Master turns a bunch of heroes against each other as a distraction from his latest crime — it would be untrue to say that the superhero slugfest is where the action of this particular story truly lies. For that, dear friends, we have to head to the Daily Bugle’s holiday party.

Yes, that’s right! The office holiday party — that awkward collection of multiple social interactions that all parties would rather forget almost as soon as they happen, as everyone steps outside of their traditional work roles to reveal that, yes, their sense of rhythm and judging when to stop indulging is just as bad as you might have expected. (Look, I’ve attended some bad office parties in my time, I admit; I might be biased.) And if the usual holiday parties are bad, imagine how much worse they’d be if you worked alongside J. Jonah Jameson!

It’s the Daily Bugle office party subplot where the story really shines, and I suspect where Darwyn Cooke and J. Bone’s hearts really lay when creating this issue; it’s easy to see why, considering just how great the Spider-Man supporting cast is. Jameson alone is the sort of character anyone could spend an entire holiday issue on, given that he’s part Ebeneezer Scrooge and part Grinch, but with more need to be loved, feared, and respected than either of them combined. Really, the Puppet Master can go hang; the true holiday gift of this issue is the chance to see JJJ at this time of year and discover that, yeah, he really is just as bad as you’d suspected. Ho ho ho!

Want more? You can read the entire story in Spider-Man's Tangled Web #21, available via Comixology and on Marvel Unlimited.

Stuff those stockings and fill those empty spaces under the tree with Popverse's recommended gifts for friends, loved ones, and yourself.

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About the Author
Graeme McMillan avatar

Graeme McMillan

Staff Writer

Popverse staff writer Graeme McMillan (he/him) has been writing about comics, culture, and comics culture on the internet for close to two decades at this point, which is terrifying to admit. He completely understands if you have problems understanding his accent.