Credits: Joseph Harris (writer), Adam Pollina (penciler), Morales, Faber, Leigh, Wong, & Wiacek (inks), Comicraft (letters), Paul Tutrone (colors)
Summary: Generation X goes shopping on Christmas Eve, as the Orphan Maker invades the mall. Jubilee is left behind as the team is kidnapped. Nanny sends Orphan Maker back into town to abduct another mutant, but he kidnaps a normal child, Stephen, by mistake. Jubilee tries to grab on as he flies away, but lands on a nearby rooftop. Santa’s reindeer are on the roof, leading Jubilee to investigate inside. A mutant child, Matthew, has kidnapped Santa with his ability to force people to obey his commands. As Gen X escapes captivity and frees Stephen, Santa talks to Matthew until he falls asleep. Jubilee realizes that Santa could’ve escaped anytime he wanted, which stuns her since Matthew’s powers don’t work on mutants.
Review: I’m surprised there weren’t more Christmas specials from the X-titles during the ‘90s. Marvel did publish several holiday specials (intended to represent the entire line) throughout the decade, but given the glut of ‘90s X-product, I could easily see a Wolverine: Bloody Nativity bookshelf one-shot being released one December. Instead, the X-titles waited until the late ‘90s to exploit the holidays with a Generation X special.
The marketing hook for this story was the revelation that the Marvel Universe’s Santa is actually a mutant, which I remember creating a few eyerolls when the solicitations were released. Santa actually doesn’t play much of a role in the story; instead, it reads more like a standard Lobdell-era Generation X story that happens to take place on Christmas. Jubilee receives the bulk of the attention, as Harris utilizes her often-ignored status as an orphan. She feels lonelier than usual during the holidays, and given her habitual bad attitude, she’s not inclined to get into the Christmas spirit anyway. I like Jubilee as a character because, in spite of her past, she isn’t angsty or overly serious, so stories that focus on her as an orphan are tricky. The fact should be explored occasionally, but losing her parents shouldn’t define Jubilee. Harris, to his credit, is able to keep her in-character while exploring her feelings as an orphan. She of course finds solace in her friends on Christmas Day, which is how these stories are supposed to end.
The rest of the story revolves around a mutant kid, his bully, Nanny, the Orphan Maker, and Santa. Harris revives the Orphan Maker’s original, literal motivation (the one that frightened Toy Biz), which is a little intense for a Christmas special, but doesn’t allow him to actually finish the job. Chris Bachalo’s wonky redesign is still being used, but Pollina manages to handle it fairly well. Orphan Maker’s run-in with Santa is played for laughs, and it’s possibly the best use of the villain’s true identity as a kid yet. As for the revelation that Santa is a mutant, I’ve always thought it was silly, but see now that it’s only a small part of the story. I’m sure it’s been established in Howard the Duck or some other corner of the Marvel Universe that Santa is real, so I guess making him a mutant isn’t that big a deal. Santa Claus still shows up in some of those Mutant Handbooks, doesn’t he?