Current Reviews


DCU Holiday Special 2008

Posted: Monday, December 22, 2008
By: Shawn Hill

DC Comics
Plot: Several seasonal stories, some corny, some surprisingly affecting. Starring Aquaman, Robin and Nightwing, the Teen Titans, the Huntress, Supergirl and Dr. Light.

Comments: Dr. Light, really? Bear with me. The cover, by Frank Quitely, featuring the stars of the stories within uncharacteristically doling out presents for Santa, was a lure. I'm often curious as to what Huntress is up to, and I do think most of Dr. Light's career has been a missed opportunity.

And inside, I was mostly charmed by these simple seasonal tales. In "A Day without Sirens," Joe Kelly gives Commissioner Gordon a much-needed day off, and the conceit by which he does it is a pleasant surprise. Just how would Gotham get by on a day without crime?

"The Man in Red" offers a twist on a very familiar origin story, and "Somewhere Beyond the Sea" offers a more obvious homage, but with Ian Churchill drawing Arthur Curry, it's still an exciting ocean adventure. The crisp, fluid and idealized art puts one in mind of the Pozner/Hamilton days for the often watered-down character.

Dini and Nguyen offer a gorgeous, if brief, painted fable in "Good King Wenceslas" that has only the barest allusion to a stalwart DC team-up, while the rest of the stories seem to wrap-up bits and pieces of leftover danglers from recent crises. It's interesting to see Nightwing, Robin and Boomerang commiserate over their orphaned status, looking for fathers and finding Jimmy Stewart. The Beetle and Huntress tales are about the inspiration heroes can provide, the Titans story is standard Christmas formula, and then we get two tales that really make the book worthwhile.

"Party Animal" lets Kevin Maguire loose on the Shaggy Man, plus every known JLA-er, which always a good idea. You've got to see Vixen's party hat. And "Let There Be Light" undoes decades of reversals for Kimoyo Hoshi, whose decision to wear the Dr. Light get-up as a heroine has been far from well-starred. Rodolfo Migliari does a nice job on the painted art, and just as you wonder why Hoshi would wear the threads of so vile a creep as Arthur Light, she tells you.

The costume was designed for her, and Arthur Light stole it. That only makes sense if you forget who came first in Justice League lore, but I suppose we can now since Infinite Crisis. Things are so up in the air that we have to accept the new order when we're informed of it. With a story like this (where Dr. Light fights the unworthy Mammoth and Shimmer), that's somewhat easier to do. Because we've seen this Dr. Light be rude, and we've seen her nemesis attack her and steal her power. But now we get to see her take it back, and swear to do better from now on. And what better use of the Christmas spirit than to offer a rebirth from ignominy to glory?

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