16th Dec2021

‘Tis the Season to be Freezin’ #1′ Review (DC Comics)

by Dean Fuller

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

Ah, the seasonal DC 80 page giant, the source of must love and dislike down the years. As I’m sure everyone does, I love the fact DC puts out these Christmas/ Holidays/ Winter Specials, but I can’t escape the feeling that they used to put far more effort and talent into them. In more recent years, they seem to have ‘seasonal obligation’ written all over them. Rather than just inviting big names to contribute a fun seasonal story, it now seems to be characters they want spotlighted assigned to writers to deliver a story. There’s a degree of irony in Christmas stories being dictated by commercial reasons after all. Still, here we are, and in the same way a team can only play what’s in front of them, I can only read what’s in front of me, and as I put my objective head on , let’s take a look.

You know the score by now. 80 pages, 8 stories, and a whole bunch of writers, artists, and characters. Rather like opening presents at Christmas, you get a mixture of great, average, and bad. One story can be a PS5 console, one can be a book you really wanted, but one can also be a home knitted horror of a sweater that is two sizes too small. Still, very traditional in that sense I guess. Luckily for me, the best present in this collection is actually the very first story.

‘One Snowy Night’ features Robin and Mr. Freeze written by the dream team combo (well mine anyway) of Alan Burnett and Paul Dini. Jordan Gibson’s not too shabby on the Batman Adventures animation-style art either. Robin is out last minute shopping for a gift for Bruce, when Mr. Freeze goes on a seasonal rampage. Or does he? Seems he’s got season’s feelings too. It’s a gentle tale who’s ending leaves you with a warm fuzzy feeling. Loved that one. Next up is an ok story featuring Vixen and the Super-Pets taking on Penguin, by Tee Franklin and Yancy Labat, followed by Bizarro in ‘Bizarro v Seasonal Depression’, from Amedeo Turturro and Jason Howard. I struggled to get through this, as I’ve never been a Bizarro fan at the best of times, and I just found this messy, story and art wise.

Next up is ‘Stay Frosty’, by Jeff Trammell and Justin Mason, featuring Firestorm and Killer Frost, two characters I do like. This has its charm, with a theme running through about Christmas being a time for forgiveness, as Ronnie Raymond struggles to believe Frost is now a good guy. It has a lot of heart, and the dialogue is excellent. The art grows on you as well. ‘Snow Date’ takes us to the future with Polar Boy, by Rich Bernatovech and Travis Mercer. I did love the art on this one, though the story with Comet Queen is just about decent enough. Next up is the inevitable Harley Quinn story, a team up with Blue Snowman in ‘A Change of Heart’, by Tara Roberts and Eric Battle. It packs quite a lot into its limited page count, something about helping a sick Poison Ivy, but is saved for me by the Hawkman cameo, always a positive. Overall, not bad, and Battle’s art is interesting.

‘Christmas: Cold and Fast’, by Bobby Moynihan and Pop Mhan, sees Captain Cold and The Flash cross paths in a tongue in cheek Christmas adventure. The plot is light as a feather but it captures the Christmas spirit nicely. Last up is ‘Break the Ice’, by Andrew Wheeler and Meghan Hetrick, featuring the JLQ, which I struggled to work out why it was actually in a Holiday Special. Very average story and art. Sadly, no pin-ups, no text pages from DC, and very average design.

Overall, out of the eight stories on offer here, I think I enjoyed three. The best, by far, was the first, which pretty much followed the template that makes a good seasonal story. The problem I had was too many of the other stories just weren’t festive enough. Bland. Vanilla. The other problem, no real star creators involved barring the writers of the first story and perhaps Pop Mhan. The quality reflected that.

Some effort for the season is better than none, but this was disappointing, especially when compared with some of the fine previous efforts from years past.

Not quite a lump of coal, but at best some quality socks. Nice, but not quite what you wanted.

*** 3/5

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