Elvira’s House of Mystery Special #1 (1987)
“Elvira’s Christmas Carol”
“Oh, What Fun to Laugh and Sing a Slaying Song Tonight!”
“O, Christmas Tree…”
“Twas the Night before X-Mas…”
Writers – Joey Cavalieri, Michael Fleisher, Barbara Randall
Artists – Frank Springer, Jack Sparling, Stephen DeStefano
Inker – Craig Boldman
Letterers – Albert De Guzman, Agustin Mas, Bob Lappan
Colorists – Shelley Eiber, Helen Vesik
Editor – Ed Hannigan
Cover Price: $1.25
As I sit here typing the house smells especially Christmasy. Not only am I burning that Balsam candle, I’ve also got a hyooge pot of meatballs cooking. I always associate Italian food with the holidays… there’s a bit of a tradition in my home. Every Christmas Eve I throw a pretty big dinner party-type’a-thing. The Italian tradition is called the “Night of the Seven Fishes”.
Well, being as though I’m not too big a fan of seafood… and I’m not even Italian (regardless of what Arizona-folk seem to think about anyone who speaks with a New York accent), several years back I’d taken it upon myself to start the “Night of the Seven Dishes”… in which I prepare seven main (Italian) courses, and invite both sides of the family and friends over to partake. I’m sure as anyone who enjoys cooking knows… the holidays may as well be our Superbowl! For the Christmas Eve feast there’s an incredible mix of anticipation, stress, and excitement that cannot be replicated by any other meal for me… not even by Thanksgiving!
So, in keeping with our Christmas on Infinite Earths… in July motif… this morning I dragged myself out of bed even earlier than usual… and got to turning three pounds of chop meat into several dozen meatballs… and turning a bunch of tomatoes into sauce. When I commit to a theme… I don’t mess around.
Our first tale stars the titular Mistress of the Dark. Elvira is beat, and just looking for a good nights sleep. As she turns on the radio to lull her into dreamland, she is enraged to find that all of the stations are playing cheerful Christmas music.
She vows if she hears just one more Christmas carol, she’ll scream… well, cue our old friends Cain and Abel as they’ve come a’wassailling and hoping to spread holiday cheer. Elvira gives ’em the what for and tells them to hit the bricks.
Our lady lead collapses on her bed in the midst of a bah-humbug tantrum, only to find herself summoned by an odd apparition claiming to be… now say it with me, the Ghost of Christmas Past. In order to find out why Elvira hates Christmas so much the Ghost takes her back to her own childhood… and to her one-room schoolhouse alma mater.
We watch as li’l Elvira gets scolded for using all the green construction paper to make… strand of holly? What’s so bad about that? Looking a bit closer, maybe it’s paper bats? Ehh, who knows?
Anyhoo, Elvirita gets booted from the school, and so decides to… burn the building to the ground. Elvira don’t mess around.
The Ghost of Christmas Past dumps the Mistress back in her bed, and vanishes… moments later, we got another visitor… the Ghost of Christmas Present. In order to make Elvira “come correct” about her disdain for the Holiday, he takes her to Manhattan… where she sees an absolute mob of consumerism Hell. The Ghost concedes that, yeah… the consumer elements of Christmas kinda sucks.
Later, Elvira gets her final visit… the Ghost of Christmas Future. He stands before her silently, before transporting her into a post-apocalyptic potential future. It is here that Elvira decides… ya know what, there’s worse things out there than Christmas.
A short time later, she wakes up in her bed with a new appreciation for Christmas. She rushes to the window, and throws it open. She shouts to a young boy… and offers him a few bucks to go fetch the giant bloodsucking bat that lives on the outskirts of town… and deliver it to Cain and Abel. The spirit of the season truly lives on in Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.
The next story opens with a crum-bum purse snatcher flees from a police officer. There’s a brief firefight, which the baddie gets the better of. He continues down an alley and runs into a wasted Salvation Army Santa. He pistol whips jolly ol’ Saint Drunk… and steals his outfit to help elude the police.
In his new gear, our man cockily walks past the pursuing officers, and climbs up a nearby fire escape… and into an open apartment window. Here he meets a young blind girl… who believes him to be the actual real-deal Santa Claus. She asks if he’d gotten her letter… and if he’s there to give her her sight back.
The scumbag plays along with the poor tot, and loots her house of all its shiny trinkets. He fashions a sack out of a blanket, and tells the young girl his sight-restoring magicstuffs were on the roof in his sleigh, and makes a run up the fire escape.
At that very moment, the real Santa Claus lands in the fireplace. He tells the young girl that he’s there to restore her sight… and he does! They embrace, and he climbs back up the chimney.
He hops back in his sleigh, and makes a passing mention at his own sight failing him of late. As they take off, we see that when he landed on the roof… he also landed… on the thief!
Our third tale features a yuppie couple who cannot find a satisfactory Christmas tree. The fake ones are “too fake”… the real ones are “too dead”… the only solution for them is driving onto a wilderness preserve and chopping down a tree of their own.
They find the perfect tree, and after a few swipes of the chainsaw… take home their bounty.
We jump to Christmas Eve, where the yuppies are entertaining their yuppie friends. They share some shallow conversation, and act as though they really couldn’t care less about one another… this whole party is just for show.
Following their party, the yuppies retire to their bedroom. That night, their perfect Christmas tree comes to life… and absolutely fills the house… likely resulting in two dead yuppies.
The next morning, we find that the tree has leveled the home and now stands some six-stories tall. It gets chopped down, and delivered to the White House where several carolers (including Fred Flintstone) stand around it belting out some Christmas classics.
Our (whew) final story, is something of a poem. The long and short of it is… this is a Cold War era book… One of the World Superpowers mistook Santa Claus and his reindeer for a nuke… and thus, World War III happened… followed by a planetary autopsy from visiting aliens. There are no credits on this story, but it feels a touch Giffen-y… can’t say for sure though.
We end our visit in the House of Mystery with our Hostess with the Most-est offering us roasted chestnuts…
Well… kind of a mixed bag, eh? Horror is a genre that’s difficult to “get right”, if you ask me. Most often, I feel as though horror creators fall into the Twilight Zone model where the story ultimately winds up being a twisted morality play. Like, how many episodes of the Twilight Zone ended with “man” being the truest evil of all? I mean, there’s only so many times you can see an evil “alien” ship… only to find it’s tagged with an American flag.
All three stories (barring the opening A Christmas Carol riff) were of that variety. I am something of a horror-comics neophyte, so I cannot say with any measure of certainty or credibility that this is the standard for books of this genre… though, I hope it’s not. This being a Christmas special, I can forgive the creators leaning on the narrative tool depicting the difference between right and wrong.
Overall, I think I enjoyed it… warts and all. The Elvira bits were the most fun, just for that wonderful 1980’s tone they brought with them. This run on House of Mystery only lasted about a dozen issues (this Special included), and is most notable for having an issue ship without the Comics Code Authority seal of approval… due to “implied nudity”. Really now?
I wonder if this volume makes Elvira an official character in the DC Universe? We see her briefly interact with previous “hosts” of DC’s horror books Cain and Abel… and as far as I know, they’re canon.
This one’s worth seeking out for novelty value alone… you probably won’t get a whole lot out of the stories. If you’re down for even more Elvira fun, you can check out a Rad Ads piece I did with Reggie a few months back. We discussed a mail-away advert for an Elvira t-shirt… one with which you can “turn on” your friends… or yourself! Yikes.