15th Dec2020

‘DC’s Very Merry Multiverse #1’ Review

by Dean Fuller

Written by Various | Art by Various | Published by DC Comics

It’s that time of year when the Christmas/ Holiday/ Winter Solstice/Hanukkah/ Kwanzaa Specials come out. Not all different ones of course, but these days the books try and be inclusive and include all the above. DC have cleverly sidestepped the yearly outrage at using either Christmas or Holidays in the title. Life’s too short. I’ve been enjoying these seasonal specials in one shape or another for many years, going back to the late 70’s. I still have most of them and still read them every year in the run up to Christmas. Digital now means I don’t even have to fight my way into the correct comic storage box too, an annual tradition I’m pleased to let go. The stories are generally light and a bit of fun, but that’s the spirit of the season. A dash of snow, some goodwill to all men, and a gift or two is good enough for me, entertainment wise. This year’s effort is another 10 story, 80 page Giant, so I better get reviewing.

The wrinkle with this special is the fact it’s set Multiverse-wide, allowing for even more story possibilities than normal. First up is Harley Quinn in ‘It’s A Horrible Life’, written by Paul Scheer and Nick Giovanetti, with Steve Lieber on art. Harley’s not feeling the Christmas spirit, and an angel-in-training takes her on a tour of multiple Earth’s to see what those Earth’s Harley’s are doing. Harley regains her Christmas spirit, though not quite in the way intended. Fun stuff. Next we go off to Earth-19, for Batman in ‘Christmas By Gaslight’, by John Layman and Dani. Christmas in a quasi-Victorian Gotham is a little darker, especially with villains Eel O’Brien and Victor Fries on the rampage (Plastic Man and Mr. Freeze on our world of course). It ends on a nice note, Fries causing a white Christmas in Gotham, and O’Brien ensuring all the street kids get a Christmas gift. None of it intentional of course, but in this Gotham you take what they give. Short and fun.

Now on Earth-11, we visit Teen Justice in’ To Stop The Star Conqueress’, by Ivan Cohen and Eleonora Carlini. On this world the Justice Guild have been taken over by face hugging star fish, and Teen Justice spring into action. This a world where the heroes genders are reversed of course, so Superwoman, Batwoman, a female Robin etc. It’s an OK story, though my least favourite. Earth-23 and President Superman are up next in ‘Bizarro Love Holiday’, by David Walker and Gustavo Duarte. It’s a sort of take on The Grinch, with Bizarro taking the role of Grinch as an outcast from Whoville, er Earth-23. Very cartoony and slapstick, so not really my thing, but I appreciate the intent. Batman Beyond on Earth-12, by Derek Fridolfs and Dustin Nguyen, has me on much more happier ground, with a nice legacy story and some fantastic art. Christmas Eve in Neo-Gotham sees our future Batman locating Bruce Wayne’s original Bat-sub, lost for many years in Gotham Harbour, and another play on A Christmas Carol. Great stuff.

Story six sees us on Earth-13 in Ancient Egypt, with The League of Shadows in ‘Night of the Magi’, a quirky effort from Sholly Fisch and Vanesa Del Rey. A little too quirky for my taste if I’m being honest, with very murky, stylised art. Fun heroes through. Story seven continues the quirky with The Unjustice League of Unamerica in ‘Have Yourself a Bizarro Little Christmas’, by Tom Sniegoski and Justin Mason. Earth-29 is of course Bizarro World, and is a concept I tend to only like in small doses. Even this short story starts to outweigh its welcome. It’s ok, but a one-trick pony story-wise. Story eight features one of my favourite characters, Booster Gold, in ‘Twas the Night’, by Brittany Holzherr and Todd Nauck. Earth-22 needs a hero, and Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman aren’t available, so who do you call? Booster. Actually the Planet Krypton superhero cafe needs a server but, hey, Booster had a quiet Christmas Eve planned anyway. Nice twist at the end. Fun story and very nice art.

The last two stories maintain the quirky, with Prez first up in ‘Prez Rickard’s Magical Sci-Fi Desolate Souls Club Holiday Special’, by Jay Baruchel and Dominike Stanton. The story is in the style of those old TV specials, which is a clever idea, but only managed to get one ‘heh’ out of me. It was OK. Lastly, we get the big man himself, Lobo, in ‘A Very Lobo Hanukkah’, by the biggest creative team on the book, Tom King and Scott Koblish. Tom King clearly has far too much fun writing Lobo here, ramping the dial on the amp up to 11 with his Lobo and Bible verses mash -up. Koblish’s art is suitably scrappy. A fun and quirky end to a very quirky special.

If I’m honest, I was a little disappointed with this. There were some nice stories in here, probably about five or so, but some were just a little too odd for a Christmas book. Some of the feel good was just not there. A quick scan of the creative teams also confirmed DC weren’t really putting any of their big hitters in this book, Tom King aside, so it feels like a few inventory stories put together. So, let’s be kind and call it a typical Christmas bag of presents. Some are good, some are OK, some are just not wanted. No re-gifting here though.

I still think they missed a trick with the title though…. DC Comics Christmas on Multiple Earths. C’mon, it writes itself.

Happy Christmas!

***½  3.5/5


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