Thursday, December 25, 2008

Spotlight Review DC Universe Holiday Special

DC Universe Holiday Special
Publisher DC

10 short stories themed around Christmas and the other seasonal holidays. I almost skipped this book, but I’m glad I didn’t. These are essentially harmless stories, but they are fun, light hearted and harkens back to a simpler time. The messages are heartfelt and positive, which is always welcome, especially this time of the year.

The entire package is top off with a beautiful Frank Quietly cover and when you add up new pages of art and story and compare it to the price, this is one of the best buys that I have seen in a long time as you get 69 pages (more then 3 regular comic books worth) for just $6 which is the price of two regular comics. Heck with Marvel pushing the $4 price tag on 22 pages, this is the best deal in 2008 and feels like a gift from DC.

Story #1 – The Man in Red
Writer: Matt Cherniss & Peter Johnson
Layouts Ivan Reis
Finishes Joe Prado
Color Rod Reis

This was a fun little story that turns Superman’s origin story into the origin of Santa Claus. We find out Santa is also from another planet and raised by a kindly couple in small town America. He goes off to find his destiny and throws a candy caned colored crystal into the snow and Santa’s workshop appears. Then once a year he goes around the world deliver presents and a message of hope. The artwork was well done and even though you saw the story coming a mile away it was a nice read.

Story #2 – Somewhere Beyond the Sea
Writer Dan Didio (hey how did he get this job?)
Art Ian Churchill
Colors Bob Rivard

First off I loved the title to this story as the song “Beyond the Sea” by Bobby Darin is one of the all time classics songs. So it was only appropriate that the “classic” Aquaman was used in this story. Aquaman saves a young couple (and the wife is very pregnant) being attacked by modern day pirates and helps guide them to shore via a star. The young couple is being met by two kingly men and Aquaman joins them in knelling before the pregnant woman. A cute story tying into the birth of a modern day Christ was well done.

Story #3 – Good King Wenceslas
Writer Paul Dini
Art Dustin Nguyen

The painted artwork by Dustin Nguyen was a nice touch, but essentially all Dini did was illustrated the old Christmas carol. Since I have forgotten the song I was that interested and I’m not sure but he seemed to be invoking a little bit of Batman as the King. This story was a miss for me.

Story #4 – A Day Without Sirens
Story Joe Kelly
Art Mick Bertilorenzi
Colors Pam Rambo

A nice story about Gotham and all of its criminals, fires and emergencies are taking off one night. Commissioner Gordon can’t believe and constantly expects something to happen, but for 24 hours Gotham is silent. We find out at the end that Oracle with Supergirl’s help gave her Dad one heck of a Christmas gift and gave some hope back to the city. I’m unfamiliar with the artist, but was impressed with his work.

Story #5 – A Wonderful Night
Story Art Baltazar & Franco Aureliano
Pencils Tim Levins
Inks Dan Davis
Colors Heroic Age

This story was a bit of a miss for me as the art was not the strongest and the story about Tim going to watch the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” just felt lame. I know all of these stories are forced, but this just did not fit for me as well as others. It was still nice to see a lot of new names being given some work in the DCU.

Story #6 – Christmas with the Beetles
Writer – J.C. Vaughn
Pencils – Lee Garbett
Inks Trevor Scott
Colors Pete Pantazis

This story had so many things going for it. First the art, I love Lee Garbett and Trevor Scott and hope to see these guys headlining a major DC title very soon. Add to that a story that featured all three generations of the Blue Beetle and I loved it even more. Finally the story is about a fourth generation run of the mill villain, who decides to stop going the wrong way and sets his feet on the right path. Nice!

Story #7 – An Angel Told Me
Writer Amanda McMurray
Art Rafael Albuquerque
Colors Cris Peters

This is a story about Huntress helping to turn around one young man’s life with her day job of being a teacher. She uses her night job to get the kid’s father arrested (as he is a b*stard), which puts him with his grandmother. Then as Helena she has him working with her and he learns about tolerance and hope. Here we have another well drawn story and another story with a nice message.

Story #8 – The Night Before Christmas
Writer Rex Ogle
Art Mike Dimotta

The writer did a good job of nailing the Teen Titans pretty darn well and actually had the characters talk about what is wrong with the group. In this little seven page story Ogle has a better handle on these characters then the current writer. The art was different and I’m still debating whether I liked it or not.

Story #9 – Party Animal
Writer Allan Burnett
Art Kevin Maguire
Colors Frank Martin

This was a fun little JLA story about Shaggy Man being brought back to JLA headquarters for their Christmas party. Now Shaggy is heavily sedated, so no major fights, but the dialogue and exchanges were just a lot of fun. This story was just flat out fun and funny at times, with terrific art.

Story #10 – Let There Be Light
Writer Adam Schlagman
Art Rodolfo Migliari
Colors Michael Dimotta

This was a story about the return of the heroic Doctor Light. The story served as a flashback and origin of Dr. Light, why she remains Dr. Light and still manages to be a Christmas story.

Bottom Line – A great holiday book that is all ages in the best way, in that any adult can read it and enjoy and you can let you children read it no matter what age and they can enjoy it also. So many “all ages” books are geared to children, this is an entertaining comic with 10 short stories that is written at an adult level, but can be enjoyed by kids also.


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