I love the many festive holiday comics wherein Santa gets his ass handed to him by a superhero. For some reason, there’s nothing comic book writers love more than taking a beloved icon from childhood, giving him a buff monkey sidekick to fight with, and then having Lobo cut his head off. Over the years, comics have found plenty of great motivations for their protagonists to punch Santa… he’s Dr. Doom in disguise, he’s possessed by a demon, he’s standing in front of Lobo, etc. My personal favorite instance of Santa getting beaten up by superheroes is a short story in the 2005 Marvel Holiday Special called Yes, Virginia There is a Santron.
It’s the only thing I’ve ever enjoyed that has The Fantastic Four on the cover. And one thing I like about it is how it takes place at an Avengers Christmas party that feels like it was written as an HR training scenario of what not to do at an office Christmas party.
The story opens with a girl named Virgie building a Santa robot as a psychiatrist, and one of her parents discusses in overlapping dialogue how she was scarred for life by some classmates telling her Santa wasn’t real as a child. She’s now an adult woman and has never recovered from this experience. Now, for some Marvel universe context, you should know that if someone is building something, it’s probably Ulton. Tony Stark got a new IKEA bed frame? ULTRON. Spiderman got Mary Jane a Roomba for Christmas? NOPE, that’s Ultron baby. Wolverine’s new high-tech Japanese toilet is… my God, is there no line Ultron will not cross? So, if you know The Avengers, you don’t need the title to know who that Santa robot is.
We go from the birth of Santron to Spider-Man, who is running late for The Avengers Christmas party and is concerned Mary Jane will be mad at him. Luckily, he arrives at the most dangerous possible place for a Christmas party, Doctor Strange’s mansion, to find all of his coworkers hitting on his hot wife, and she’s loving it.
Tony Stark’s best shot is just mentioning that he’s rich and Wolverine’s is an offer for contracted murder. Both are perfectly in character, and I love them. Mary Jane then contorts her body into a completely impossible shape as she greets her husband where her butt and boobs are going in fully opposite directions of each other like Peter interrupted her mid-body roll.
Spidey takes Mary Jane around the party and promptly drops her off with Jessica Jones and her baby so that he can join the other Avengers in sexually harassing Spider-Woman. It’s, as Luke Cage might tell Aunt May, “the bomb!“
You see, when two people stand under the mistletoe together at Christmas time, the woman cannot say no to a kiss! It’s a joyous tradition dating back to the Dickensian days when women couldn’t say no anyways because they’d get thrown in a Christmas Asylum for Christmas hysteria. Spider-Woman reluctantly kisses Iron Man and Captain America under the mistletoe, but when Wolverine also wants his kiss, she quickly becomes very concerned with where all of this mistletoe is coming from?
It turns out Tony Stark has created a mistletoe drone to follow her around all night. The entire male half of crime-fighting adventurers is helping him use it to coerce her into making out with Wolverine. This is both characteristically dickish of him and uncharacteristically kind. I can’t believe he decided to share his Spider-Woman kissing trick with the other Avengers! I guess in the Christmas spirit, he’s giving free Spider-Woman kisses to all of her co-workers, aww!
After the three literal geniuses arguing over the sex assault bot in Spider-Woman’s eyeline and two feet away from her ears are discovered, they each form a cover story. Wolverine doesn’t even bother. He’s more angry that the woman licking scheme failed than he is sorry about it. “WAY TO BOTCH IT BEFORE MY TURN, IDJITS!” he screams at the billion dollar superhero properties written by a real 40-year-old man in 2005.
Spider-Woman starts beating up her co-workers, and fair enough, but is rudely interrupted by the villain of this comic, Santa Claus. See, when Virgie completed her Santa bot, she vowed no one would ever laugh at a child for believing in him again and unshackled its Christmas AI. It immediately screamed it was going to kill The Avengers in the second-best comic book panel ever, after Cat Man cooking egg. I love a single panel that tells you everything you need to know about a character and his goals.
Virgie screams, “Ah! WHAT– NO! NO!” She’s shocked that her Santa made from Ultron parts is acting a hell of a lot more like Ultron than Santa. Who could have known this was coming? Luckily, Wolverine is automatically down to knife punch and weight shame the Santa robot when it arrives at the Avengers Christmas party. He barely waits for Santa to attack. I think Wolverine would have punched Santa even if he wasn’t evil. He probably killed a few Santas on the way here.
Wolverine punches Santa’s face off and reveals him as Ultron. As the Avengers take turns pounding on Santron, Peter Parker comes up with the idea of using the sexual harassment drone Tony Stark made for fighting crime. He figures he and Hank Pym can MacGyver the free kiss machine into a bomb and then get Ultron to eat it in a cookie because of his Santa programming. All this, even though outwardly Ultron hasn’t yet done anything super Santaish, unless Peter thinks that murdering all of the Avengers was a child’s Christmas wish.
Peter goes into the kitchen to get a cookie and finds all of the non-costumed ladies and manservants are having none of this nonsense. Mary Jane is like, “Please kill Ultron quietly. We’re doing actual work in here,” and Spider-Man rightfully responds, “Sure thing.”
Santron pauses the battle to eat the Christmas cookie bomb and promptly explodes, dooming Ultron to reform ten issues later in Hank Pym’s Fitbit. They disassemble what’s left of the robot’s corpse and find… I’m not clear on this, but apparently, Ultron has psychic powers in this and has absorbed Virgie’s memories enough that we can put together a quick pamphlet about why she’s evil? It’s not because her parents got most of the way through naming her Virginia and gave up. It’s just the thing about her getting upset about Santa not being real. That’s her entire villain origin story.
Part of Ultron’s consciousness uploaded itself into a prototype Ultron skeleton that sought out Virgie and used its “Encephalo-Overrider” to convince her it was a great idea to turn a suspiciously free robot skeleton into a machine for interacting with children. The Avengers decide trying to kill the Avengers isn’t such a big deal, and not only do they forgive Virgie, but they take their party to her house, assuming correctly that she’s alone on Christmas Eve. Spider-Man even says, “You did nothing wrong,” which seems way too kind unless, I again have to suggest Spider-Man thinks the Avengers deserve this. They did conspire on multiple sex crimes tonight alone.
Hank Pym tells Virgie that having a robot psychically manipulate her mind might have been good for her somehow? I guess it’s true what they say: sometimes the best therapy is trying to kill the Avengers. Galactus is one of the most mentally healthy beings in the multiverse.
The comic book ends with a speech from Captain America about how superheroes inspire childlike faith and wonder and are therefore better than Santa Claus. Virgie and the Avengers happily gather around a mutant Christmas tree that Doctor Strange created from an extremely deadly plant he had lying around. It tries to eat She-Hulk at one point and probably shouldn’t have been hauled across town and given as a gift to a mad scientist who already tried to kill the Avengers once. I hope Virgie isn’t also angry at Christmas trees, or next year’s Avengers Christmas party is also going to rule.
This article was brought to you by our fine sponsor and Hot Dog Supreme, ND: who has armed their mistletoe drone with AGM-114 Hellfire mistles.