Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: 14th December 2016
Are we still really feeling the need to tack a ‘#1’ onto the end of these specials? Surely…oh, I don’t know, Rebirth Holiday Special 2016 would be the more appropriate moniker? Or even DC Holiday Annual 2016: Rebirth? Am I the only one that cares? Yeah, it’s probably just me.
Oh, right, yeah, I’m supposed to be reviewing the book, not nitpicking it’s numerics and nomenclature. Moving forward, then!
Holiday specials are always a bit of an odd one, particularly when it comes to the Big Two – crow-barring in winter cheer to the epic, sweeping arcs of your Spider-, Super- and Bat-men can on occasion seem more than a little forced. Thankfully, this year, DC have opted for something of a lighter touch than they might’ve been tempted to take in previous years – the Rebirth in the title isn’t just for show, it would seem.
Tied together by a Paul Dini-written, Harley Quinn-hosted Anachronism Party – though it hardly messes with continuity any more than Rebirth has already – there’s actually a surprising amount to like about this collection of 10 short stories. From Tim Seeley’s successful application of an ‘All through the house’-style narration to a Batman/Superman story, to Matías Bergara and J. Nanjan’s almost Dickensian art and colour stylings in their Constantine/Wonder Woman story, everything is drenched in a measure of Christmas spirit just shy of being saccharine.
There’re, of course, oddities – a Batman/Detective Chimp team-up, for one, which despite a delightful turn from Gustavo Duarte in the art department, fails to capture the Christmas Noir, Shane-Black-but-with-a-monkey feel that it’s gunning for. But kudos must be given for the attempt. There’s also just a couple of moments where the penchant for grim’n’dark attempts to bust through the cheery outer frosting, though not quite hard enough for it to derail your enjoyment of the book.
Overall, there’s something tangibly meaty and festive about this wee collection of stories, despite the occasional oddities. And at 96 pages for 7 of your finest Scottish Pounds, it offers surprisingly decent value, particularly given the high calibre of line- and colour-work on display. It’s by no means an essential read – the new Watchmen cannot be found herein, be assured – but on the flipside, if you’re looking for a nice wee gift for the DC fan in your life, you could do infinitely worse. Or should l say…… CRISIS ON INFINITE WORSE!!
…I’ll get my coat.
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The Writer of this piece was: Ross Sweeney
Ross tweets from @Rostopher24