The Spider-Man 1995 Holiday Special features five separate Christmas stories by different writers and artists - none of which I actually can say I recognised. Spider-Man appears in the first and the last of the stories. In both cases the role is filled by Ben Reilly in the new Spider-Man costume.
Story One: "A Matter of Faith" features The Scorcher, who originated in Untold Tales #1. I just knew that we would start to see these new 'old' characters appearing in current storylines.
Story Two: "The Cat Who Stole Christmas" is a lovely little four page story with no dialog. Black Cat plays Santa. Story by Karl Bollers and art by Chris Gardner - both are names to keep an eye out for in the future I suspect.
Story Three: "The Venom Claus" has Venom playing a rather less gentle Santa than the Black Cat portrayed. Venom knows if you've been good, and he knows if you've been bad! Bad boys are in for more trouble than just a lump of coal in their stocking. Eric Fein and Javier Saltares are noteworthy on Story and Pencils respectively.
Story Four: "Companions" is a rather trite little piece starring Willie Lumpkin, Aunt May's old postman and friend.
Story Five: "Merry Christmas, Mr. Storm" is a gem of a story written by Sholly Fisch. It's a thoughtful look at the relationship between Peter Paker and Johnny Storm, and shows Human Torch meeting Ben for the first time in a long while. My only regret is that it seems to hint that Ben will be around for a while.
These specials and annuals that are cobbled together from various pieces by young artists can often be very dissapointing. This one however was of a surprisingly consistent high quality, with some excellent individual work displaying a great deal of originality. The "Companions" story was a weak point, but I'm prepared to overlook that in my assessment.