If there is one thing every comic fan can agree on, it’s that every holiday inspired comic book with the exception of Jingle Belle is terrible. As someone who owns Punisher: Red X-Mas, DC Holiday Special 1989 and several other holiday inspired comic one-shots I can speak with some authority that Jingle Belle is the best. For those of you not versed in Jingle Belle, she is the daughter of Santa Claus and a skilled toy maker herself. Unfortunately, she’s also young and wants to deflect from her family responsibilities and hang out with friends and such. The thing that makes the series stand out is the pin-up inspired character designs for Belle and her friends; it gives them a Jessica Rabbit style as the book is very cartoony as a whole. This issue opens with the story of Krampus and Santa Claus. Krampus is reminiscing about the good old days where he would go into homes and frighten the kids that were bad before Santa Claus would show up. They pulled the classic “good cop, bad cop” to make sure the kids were behaving all year. The story drifts into the present with Krampus sitting in a dark room full of cob webs. Belle’s friend Polly has been sent to fetch Krampus to the Claus’ house to settle a dispute. He gets very excited by this as grabs his “switch” and heads to the house.
There he finds Belle and Claus at each other’s necks. They’re both calling each other liar when Ms. Claus reveals she called Krampus to settle the fight. Both parties run through their side of the story and why the other is a liar before Krampus makes his decision which is not in either parties favor. There are also several short stories as well which are equally as enjoyable as the main tale.
There is just something about Paul Dini’s (Detective Comics, Batman: The Animated Series) writing for this book that makes it so good. Its kid friendly and yet there is adult humor; which gives it the perfect balance between the two that’s normally hard to do. Dini’s writing at DC was sub-par and he really plateaued quickly with his work on Detective. With Jingle Belle you can tell there’s a lot of love for the world and that he’s trying to create and continue something that’s wholly original in comics today.
The cover is creepy, but surprisingly the art inside is great and fits the book perfectly. The strange thing is that the cover artist and interior artist are one and the same: Stephanie Gladden. I don’t understand the covers look, but the rest of the book is fantastic. Dini has worked with a lot of artists on Jingle Belle and has even showcased several artists on the same issue before. This one is 100% Gladden and it makes for a much better read having consistent art and style that you can become familiar with. I wouldn’t be opposed to her doing more work on the series as long as the covers improve.
If you’re not a Christmas fan then pass on this book, it’s only going to aggravate you and make you question your purchase and no one wants that. If you like or even enjoy Christmas and you’ve never been able to find an X-Mas book that didn’t suck, then look no further than Jingle Belle Gift-Wrapped.
Writer: Paul Dini Artist: Stephanie Gladden Publisher: Image Comics