Marvel, like any other American corporation, celebrates Thanksgiving by purchasing ad space at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. The company’s characters have celebrated the holiday in-universe a few times, almost exclusively to comedic effect. In its simplest terms, Thanksgiving is a time for family complications, and in popular fiction, the holiday usually serves as a chance to introduce protagonists’ off-screen family members. In the Marvel universe, family almost always means something deeply strange, and as a result, the publisher’s Thanksgiving comics are unforgettably weird.
How can we get married? You tried to kill everyone!
In a 1963 issue of Uncanny X-Men, Professor X oversees a mutant football game while Jean Grey acts super thirsty with her boyfriend, Cyclops, who is clearly just trying to enjoy the festivities. At the end of the issue, Jean proposes to Cyclops, but only after they’ve discussed the children they had with other people in previous timelines. In a fantastic turn of phrase, Jean excuses Cyclops for sending his son into the future (?!?) before asking if he’s ready to settle down with her. Her argument for their marriage is essentially that she wanted to destroy the entire universe with her “Phoenix” powers, but held back because she was worried about Cyclops. Cyclops and Jean tell the X-Men over Thanksgiving dinner, and none of the mutants are surprised. Many of them throw their fists in the air for some reason.
My dad is a supervillain, but he still gets to play Pictionary with us
In a still stranger Thanksgiving issue of Vision and the Scarlet Witch, the Avenger couple — one being a synthetic human and the other an experimented-on Russian mutant. Much of the comic feels self-aware — there are several jokes about everyone’s costumes and whether Doctor Strange will deliver female Avengers’ babies (he will, apparently). Eventually, though, Magneto shows up in plainclothes, greeting his daughter, Scarlet Witch, and the Avengers and X-Men react thusly:
Weirder still, the comic doesn’t turn into a super-battle, and everyone just sort of leaves after eating dinner. Quite a few of the superheroes are upset that Magneto dared show up wearing a cowl-neck sweater, which seems like a strange nitpick to make when Namor (pictured above) is just chilling in his speedo. When several of the heroes go to split, they run into a league of baddies on Scarlet Witch’s front lawn. A fight ensues, but everything’s fine.
Murderers don’t get mashed potatoes
In Marvel’s most depressing Thanksgiving comic, Frank Castle hides out in a dreary barn during a snowstorm, and a local kid wanders in. The kid tries to relate to him by describing his parents’ jobs (they’re soldiers stationed abroad), and though Frank tells him to scram, the kid comes back with some turkey and mashed potatoes wrapped in tinfoil.
However, he finds a shirt with Franks logo spray-painted on it, throws the perfectly good food, and proclaims that Punisher can’t have any treats, presumably because he’s killed people. The comic ends on two panels: one of the food growing cold, and the other of the snow outside. It’s a real bummer.
Overall, Marvel hasn’t leaned heavily on Thanksgiving as a plot point for its comics, though 2016 will see the release of a Thanksgiving-themed Spider-Gwen. The holiday season is more commonly used as a general time period in comics than the specific Thanksgiving holiday, and that freedom has allowed many superheroes to experience joy (the X-Men) or pain (Punisher). Here’s hoping your Thanksgiving is more like Professor Xavier’s than Frank Castle’s.