DC Holiday Special 2017

I picked up DC Comics' Holiday Special this year, but it's kind of a rip-off. Unlike the pleasant surprise of last year, most of the tales in this one feel cramped and one-note.

The 90ish-page special opens and closes with a frame story of Clark Kent and Constantine in a bar, arguing with "Bibbo" Bibbowski over whether Superman (or anyone) is really making a difference in the world. Bibbo's an optimist and reassures Clark with a bunch of stories. Not that the stories which follow make any sense in that context.

Most of the stories are just too short to have any impact. I was thinking that I would have rather they had cut one or two and let the others be longer. However, it's not actually that they're all short on space; some of them just aren't paced well for the space they have.

Worst of the bunch: 

There's a weird, surreal, fatalistic Swamp Thing piece that doesn't end with much. Something called Atomic Knights wasn't so terrible in itself, but the random future-dystopia of humans fighting plant-people felt horribly out of place given the rest of the book. There's also a Deathstroke piece that... maybe it made more sense if you're following the character.

The advertised Denny O'Neil Batman piece had decent art, I guess, but it wanted to be a bleak, atmospheric piece, and instead, it was just boring.

Medium: 

A short Flash piece was saccharine, but fine. One of the poorly paced pieces involved the Teen Titans fighting a ghost that weaponized bad memories of Christmases past. Starfire, not being from Earth, is immune to the power as she works through what Earth holidays mean to her. It was a pretty neat idea, but it needed too much set-up and too much action for there to be much to the story in the end.

There's a Green Arrow/Black Canary piece which was cute, although I literally forgot about it after I read it and I'm adding this line in after having checked the issue.

Best: 

Greg Rucka graced this book with a pretty decent Batman-Wonder Woman solstice tale. It was odd to see the conceit of the overlapping narration, though, because I associate that so strongly with Superman/Batman. There's a classic Batman story in the back that tickled me, in which the spirit of Batman causes people to do good on Christmas or something so that the Caped Crusader can have a night off to sing carols with his friends in the GCPD. (I told you, classic.)

I think the best story in the bunch was Sgt. Rock. It's a cold, dark, and violent story about a severely injured soldier holding a prisoner at gunpoint in the snow. It takes a minute to get to the point, and it's a smidge obvious, but I really liked it. Spoiler, because you really shouldn't have to buy this just to read this story: The Jewish American soldier from Easy Company is fatally wounded at the beginning of the piece, but he somehow lives eight nights, keeping his Nazi prisoner under guard, until Sgt. Rock can relieve him. It's an interesting blend of faith and fatalism.

Despite a few good pieces, overall the volume is just too uneven for me to recommend it.

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