By Andy Frisk
December 16, 2009 - 21:52
Holidays and heroes go hand in hand since both inspire the best in humanity, so it makes perfect sense that a host of DC Comics heroes get the holiday tale treatment in DC Universe Holiday Special 09. Many well known DC Comics’ heroes including Superman, Batman, The Flash, and Martian Manhunter engage in holiday heroics, but a host of less prominent heroes also join in the fun including Enemy Ace, Angel and The Ape, and B’wana Beast. The wide ranging tales, which cover Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Years, are varyingly funny, silly, and touching. Considered together, the tales are a heartwarming collection of what’s best about the Holiday Season.
Superman faces a snowman Golem created by a young boy suffering from cystic fibrosis whose goal is only to be helpful. Batman tracks down a bad Santa. The Martian Manhunter catches a murderer and learns how to enjoy a sense of oneness with his fellow men inspired by the Christmas Spirit, and Captain Marvel and super villain Ibac rebuild a Mission that they accidentally wreck in battle. All of these short holiday adventures, along with many others in the special, are great fun and touching, but a few stand out in particular that, interestingly enough, star some of the lesser known heroes, and really either pluck the heartstrings or tickle the funny bone.
In Sterling Gates and Jonboy Meyers’ “The (Beast) Boy Who Hated Christmas” starring The Doom Patrol, Gar/Beast Boy spends most of Christmas Eve slaving away for his court appointed guardian, hating another Christmas Eve spent alone, until two of his teammates offer him a home where he’ll get the chance to enjoy Christmas Day as part of a loving family. In “Unbearable Loss” by Scott Kolins, Deadman helps save the life of a holiday suicide who happens to be The Scarecrow’s mother. She in turn gets a new lease on life and the opportunity to help a homeless child. Finally, in Billy Tucci’s Sgt. Rock tale, “ A Peace on Earth” and Seamus and Sean Fahey’s Enemy Ace tale “Stille Nacht,” the spirit of Christmas overcomes the spirit of war, and for at least one night men at arms become men at peace. Each of these tales represent the transformative power of the holiday season. While these tales might seem a bit trite to the cynical reader, the reader who gets the spirit of the season will get the point, and there’s nothing trite about “Peace on Earth and Goodwill Towards Men” in times of peace or war.
The funniest and most joyful of the tales is Amy Wolfram and Daniel Leister’s “The Flash Before Christmas” starring the post-Crisis Flash, Wally West and family. This tale captures perfectly humorous aspects of last minute Christmas shopping and shenanigans, as well as the great fun the wise cracking Wally is. The recent return of a brooding Barry Allen, who’s being put through the wringer in the lackluster Flash Rebirth, has deflated some of the fun and humor that has become part of DC Comics’ Flash stories over the years. Wally has been a bit of a silly type at times, but has endeared himself to many readers who know him as the “only” Flash. I always imagined Ryan Reynolds portraying a wise-acre, but good hearted Wally West/Flash rather than Hal Jordan. A Flash movie in this vein could be a DC Comics answer to the Spider-Man films, but I digress… In “The Flash Before Christmas,” Wally manages to shop for the kids (in China), help his mother put up her Christmas decorations, help capture Killer Croc, shop for his wife, and his Secret Santa partner, Raven, attend his son Jai’s Christmas Pageant, make cookies, take his daughter caroling, exchange a gift screw up, and supply his family with “The best Christmas ever!” all on Christmas Eve! Leister’s art captures the slapstick look of Wally’s speedy holiday preparations as he flashes around the globe spreading holiday cheer, and Wolfram’s breakneck speed plotting and pacing really ramp up the Christmas cheer.
A mixture of serious tales in the vein of A Christmas Carol, and lighthearted fare like A Christmas Story, DC Universe Holiday Special 09 delivers the holiday spirit like no other holiday special from a major publisher this year. It’s a great read that really showcases the holiday hero spirit we all carry a piece of in our hearts this time of year, and should carry all year long.
Rating: 10 /10