DC’s Very Merry Multiverse 80-Page Giant 2020


Harley Quinn: It’s a Horrible Life

Writer: Paul Scheer/Nick Giovanetti – Artist: Steve Lieber

It’s a Harley Quinn story. What do you expect? It’s irreverent, nothing happens, and there are poop jokes and excessive, random violence. It’s a Christmas-Multiverse story that hits the same jokes every Post-Flashpoint Harley comic usually hits. If you like that stuff, you’ll like this.

I don’t.

I like Steve Lieber’s art though.

Final Score: 4/10 (Bad)


Batman: Christmas by Gaslight

Writer: John Layman – Artist: Dani

This was a fun little Christmas story. Batman isn’t as present as Plastic Man is but the return to the Gaslight universe here is pretty cool. John Layman does a good job of building a nice little contained story. There’s not too little going on and not too much. The Rothchild fortune feels like it fits perfectly here as well as the Gaslight versions of Plastic Man and Mr. Freeze.

Dani is a perfect artist to tackle the gaslight universe as their art doesn’t necessarily look like Mike Mignola, but they fit that old-timey feel. They pull off the outfits, the architecture, and the way the colors are duller than normal comic book coloring, make this book look straight out of Victorian England.

Final Score: 8/10 (Great)


Teen Justice: To Stop the Star-Conqueress!

Writer: Ivan Cohen – Artist: Eleanora Carlini

I’m a big fan of Eleanora Carlini but the writing on this one is hard to keep up with. It essentially boils down to the gender-swapped heroes of Earth-11 battling Starro on New Year’s. It’s an extended battle scene that revolves around the novelty of the gender-swapping with the Super Daughter (swapped versions of the Super Sons).

There’s not much going on in terms of story and the dialogue is almost better left out entirely so we can just focus on the cool visuals and action. It doesn’t really do anything wrong so much as it does nothing ‘right’ in terms of writing. Fun little story in the middle though.

Final Score: 5/10 (Neutral)


President Superman: Bizarro Love Holiday

Writer: David F. Walker – Artist: Gustavo Duarte

This one is a bit different. I’m not sure what the style is called but it consists of full-page or half-pages of a drawing done by Gustavo Duarte with a piece of prose off to the side. It explains how President Superman created a new holiday on Earth-23 and deals with Bizarro’s lack of understanding and confusion with the holiday.

It’s a nice little holiday story that is meant for kids. Gustavo Duarte gives great energy and his art is always nice for the younger audiences. If you have kids, this story is a good simple one for the very young. There is the issue though, of there being two Bizarro stories. If I had to pick one, it wouldn’t be this one. And that’s because I am neither a kid nor have a child. Otherwise, your mileage may vary.

Final Score: 6/10 (Okay)


Batman Beyond: Holidays Beyond

Writer: Derek Fridolfs – Artist: Dustin Nguyen

This is probably one of my favorite stories in the collection, along with the Gaslight Batman story. This return to the Batman Beyond setting in the DC Animated Universe was really cool. I like what Jurgens has done, but it’s nice returning to a simpler time like this. Fridolfs and Nguyen have a lot of experience in this universe at this point, so I trust them.

Maybe this story isn’t the greatest ever written but for me, it was just really nice to return to Terry’s thoughts and the Bat-sub and relationship between the former and current Batman had a reluctantly heartwarming touch. The art is awesome too. I love this red glow coming from the bat-logo too, I’m a sucker for a spotlight coming out of the heroes’ chest (bring back Spider-Man’s belt spotlight!).

Final Score: 8/10 (Great)


The League of Shadows: Night of the Magi

Writer: Sholly Fisch – Artist: Vanesa Del Rey

This one is a little strange. Vanesa Del Rey has pretty inky images and the background, space, and planes can be a bit difficult to see because everything is so dark and murky. Because of that, it’s hard to even decipher what is going on in some of the panels. What I could put together though, was a really cool origin for this universe’s Ragman.

I’m a sucker for Ragman as the, formerly, premier Jewish superhero. This new origin for this version was really slick though. And I don’t want to demonize Vanesa Del Rey here, I like the look, but it’s a tad too dark. If the colors and inks had been handled a bit differently, I’d probably be knocking this story to an 8. If you like Ragman, this won’t disappoint. If you wanted more from the supporting cast of this universe? There’s a couple of funny lines sprinkled within, but it’s not going to scratch that itch.

Final Score: 7/10 (Good)


The Unjustice League of Unamerica: Have Yourself a Bizarro Little Christmas

Writer: Tom Sniegoski – Artist: Justin Mason

Here’s our second Bizarro tale from this special. I just find it strange that Editorial found it appropriate to do TWO Bizarro stories. It’s just strange. Of all the characters in the Multiverse. We get two Bizarro stories. Hmm.

Anyway, Tom Sniegoski does a fine job of putting the Bizarro-verse under the microscope. Bizarro wants to show off his new lesson: Giving. But, the rest of the cast doesn’t get it, until a member of the Santa Corps shows up to deliver holiday cheer. Or wait, no, they still don’t get it. So, they fight off the happiness that the Santa Corps try to deliver and keep the Bizarro-verse… not safe. Just keep it, I suppose.

Justin Mason has a pretty interesting style, it is a little Invader Zim at times, but a bit scratchier. The Santa Corps reminded me of that particular art style and universe. But, I liked a lot of his stylistic decisions. THere’s something a little gross about the whole affair, and Mason definitely did that intentionally.

Final Score: 6/10 (Okay)


Booster Gold: Twas the Night

Writer: Brittany Holzherr – Artist: Todd Nauck

Booster Gold is back at it. Y’know, being a disappointment. Nah, I’m just playing. He’s here being a hero. It’s got some good fun and a good message with Maxwell Lord causing a dustup in Booster’s restaurant on Earth… whatever. Whatever Universe this is. The story is pretty rote until the end where we see some nice heartwarming moments.

Todd Nauck handles the art and I feel like I’d rather just get one of the JLI artists from back in the day to really do this story justice. Todd Nauck odes a good job, but there are just some images that feel off, and I’m not talking about the shoddy character designs for the wait staff. That was funny. I don’t know, it just doesn’t have a great flow. And that might be from the script, but the art suffers from it regardless.

Final Score: 6/10 (Okay)


Prez: Prez Rickard’s Magical Sci-Fi Desolate Souls Club Holiday Special

Writer: Jay Baruchel – Artist: Dominike “Domo” Stanton

This is quite an interesting little story. For starters, Prez is NOT a very popular character from the DC stable. Why, we just saw Mark Russell tackle the character just a handful of years ago during the DCYOU era of DC. I really loved that book and wish Russell got more time with it. And trust me, I had my doubts about it.

Just like I did coming into this one. The Sunshine Superman universe that is full of hippies and drugs and psychedelia sure is an interesting world to go to for this. And while I liked the concept, I like it more on paper than in actual execution. It feels like a waste of time at the end of the day, despite a few good moments. Well, there’s really just one moment that I was a fan of.

Domo does a pretty good job here though, They translate the TV special well, with introductory circles panels for faces and how each page works as a character segment generally. The colors could’ve been an eyesore with this universe but the art team handles the colors perfectly.

Final Score: 5/10 (Neutral)


Lobo: A Very Lobo Hanukkah

Writer: Tom King – Artist: Scott Koblish

I’m a big Tom King fan. I love his work on stuff like Omega Men, Grayson, Sheriff of Babylon, and Mister Miracle. He’s one of the few in mainstream comics that I feel strives to talk about more than just plain morals like a lot of others do. Sometimes, he succeeds like with Omega Men and the nature of rebellion and the cost of war. Sometimes, he fails like with Heroes in Crisis, which was meant to analyze PTSD and veterans’ struggles.

A Very Lobo Hanukkah feels closer to the latter. I think Tom King says some cool stuff at the end while keeping it very ‘Lobo’, but intermixing Judaic Prose just didn’t strike the chord he was going for. It feels like it’s trying too hard? I don’t normally feel that way with King but I wasn’t really able to ascertain how this connected to Judaism and Hanukkah and that might be on me. I could feel there was something here, but I couldn’t tell what it was.

Scott Koblish though, there’s an artist that is well-suited to handle Lobo. I particularly loved the panels where Lobo is massacring the Dominators and trying to keep the facade of this being unpleasant and how it breaks down. A well written scene, but executed perfectly by Koblish.

Final Score: 6/10 (Okay)


Conclusions

This is probably one of the weakest offerings DC has offered in terms of these 80-page giant seasonal specials. In the past, there’s usually one REALLY good story that makes the whole thing worth it with a couple of pretty good ones flanking it. This time though? I’m just failing to see the flagship story. Christmas by Gaslight and Holidays Beyond are pretty good, but they don’t warrant the price on the cover of this bad boy.

You’d think with the Multiverse theme to this special, that DC would knock it out of the park, but the way they use a lot of these properties feels like a misfire. Is this the best story we can come up with for President Superman? Do we need TWO Bizarro stories? I’m not even sure that the Lobo story is Multiversal. Most of the stories are alright, but none are memorable like the Robotman story this past Summer or the Superman/Swamp Thing story from this past Halloween.

If you have a hankering for Ragman or Booster Gold or any other smaller character that doesn’t normally get much attention, this special might just be the thing for you. Otherwise? It’s okay. Not bad, but there are certainly better DC seasonal specials and for the price, this one is asking for? Being just okay really isn’t enough for $10.

Final Score: 6/10 (Okay)


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