ComicsVerse is celebrating the 12 Days of X-Mas by taking a look at some of our favorite X-Men holiday-themed issues! Today, we’re talking about how the X-Men celebrate Christmas at the mansion in X-MEN #165!

So far in our Twelve Days of X-Mas series, we’ve seen some surprisingly depressing holiday X-Men issues. Well, actually, considering how terrible most of these characters’ lives are, those issues weren’t all that surprising. Just because it’s December doesn’t change the fact that bad stuff is happening. Still, a few sad holiday issues doesn’t mean every single Christmas the X-Men celebrate has to be a melancholic affair. As comics progressed beyond action-based plots, the X-Men’s holiday issues slowly became more optimistic. By 2005, when famed X-Men veteran Chris Claremont wrote X-MEN #165, a whole comic devoid of anxiety-inducing fight scenes wasn’t unheard of. Finally, the X-Men could host a Christmas party without Sentinels ruining it.

X-MEN #165
Image Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Holiday X-citement

X-MEN #165 details an intimate look into the lives of the X-Men during an atypically calm holiday season. The issue opens with the remnants of a multiple car pile-up. In typical fashion, the X-Men hurry to clean up the mess and rescue any survivors. The scene is strange because it’s the aftermath of a catastrophe. Ordinarily, in comics, the random bystander doesn’t get a lot of attention. However, in this issue, the presence of human victims is particularly important. You’ll learn why soon enough.

X-MEN #165
Image Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

A lot of famous X-Men characters play important roles in this issue, including X-23, Rachel Grey, and Gambit. As a new (and outwardly scary) member of the X-Men, X-23 is having a hard time adjusting. In response, Wolverine forces Rachel and Kitty to room with her. Through some awkward social encounters, X-23 starts to become slightly more oriented in the human world. The girls’ bonding is a perfect example of why the X-Men work as a school, superhero team, and family: they actually care about each other. At the mansion, Iceman stages the perfect snowball fight while other faculty members make food, play music, and set up a surprisingly epic holiday bash. Even Emma Frost somehow manages to have a good time.

X-MEN #165
Image Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

At the end of the issue, X-23’s transformation takes center stage. Her social adventures with Kitty and Rachel pay off when she verbally (remember, talking used to be a big deal for her) asks one of the rude victims from the car crash to join the party. The sentiment, though simple, says a lot about the state of the X-Men during 2005. Relations between humans and mutants weren’t great then (are they ever?) but the holidays were able to bring out the best in everyone.

How to Have a Normal Christmas   

Plot-wise, not a lot happens in this issue. X-23 becomes slightly more normal, Gambit gets his sight back via Sage (which would be a bigger deal if he had lost it for a lot longer), and Beast dresses up as Santa. If you’re looking for a big battle between good and evil, you should look somewhere else. X-MEN #165 doesn’t offer the typical X-Men comic fare.

X-MEN #165
Image Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

However, if pure holiday shenanigans and X-Men drama sound appealing, you might like this one. In comics, readers so often forget what these characters are like when they aren’t on the job. And, by “aren’t on the job” I don’t mean the first few panels of a comic, where the superheroes are trying to live “normal” lives before a super-villain unceremoniously ruins their plans for a night out. I mean actually off the job. In the Marvel universe, there are a lot of heroes, which means the X-Men don’t always have to be on-call. Sometimes, especially during the holidays, they can kick back, have a snowball fight, and forget, momentarily, the disasters that might come tomorrow.       

X-MEN #165
Image Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

For some readers, X-MEN #165 is a filler issue, full of useless plot. But, for someone who really enjoys digging deep into the X-Men world, X-MEN #165 is a hidden gemstone. UNCANNY X-MEN #98 showed the X-Men being a family but X-MEN #165 does something more: it shows the X-Men having fun. They’re celebrating the holidays without all of the baggage they normally carry around with them. It’s proof that, no matter what, there’s always room for a little fun around the holidays. After all the miserable holidays they’ve had in the past, I think these characters deserve a little joy every once in a while.  

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