Review: DC Universe Holiday Special

BATMAN: A tie?
HAWKGIRL: You already had a nuclear defabrophibulator.

The misleading #1 on the cover actually marks this as a “one-shot,” which is equally misleading because DC has been doing holiday specials intermittently for decades.

The 2008 offering features some strong art, a few passable stories, and a lot of filler.

Writers and artists

Too many to list.


Characters in the DC Universe celebrate an assortment of midwinter holidays, but mostly Christmas.

High Points

“I tell ya, I should never’ve made Batman the door greeter.”

1. “Party Animal” depicts the hijinks which ensue when Green Lantern and Red Arrow capture the Shaggy Man en route the JLA Christmas party, and decide to take him along, rather than bring him into custody and miss their annual shindig. Of the numerous “holiday in the life” offerings in this special, this works the best.

2. “A Day Without Sirens” has the strongest story of any in this collection. It echoes DC’s most famous Christmas tale, “The Silent Night of the Batman” (Batman #219, 1970), but takes a different approach. Someone has posted flyers around Gotham City advising that all crime stop for one day, and Gotham Central react with shock when it appears to occur. The final twist raises some problematic questions, but in a collection of mediocre vignettes, this one stands out.

Low Points

1. The art generally works quite well. Could they not have taken time to develop a few better stories? At $5.99, I can only recommend it to the most diehard DC fans.

2. Supergirl doesn’t make as impressive an appearance as she did in ’07’s Infinite Holiday Special, but she appears twice, once in a key role. This raises the same problem that I have with the contemporary Supergirl. She’s an interesting take on the character. She belongs in the DCU. But when they reintroduced her, North American teen fashion featured stripper-like outfits as the norm: belly tops, waistlines cut so that waxing was essential, and visible thongs. It wasn’t just your local Überskank who dressed that way, or girls going to the beach on a hot day (where such clothing makes sense), but your average girl. So comics, never shy about dressing super-females like table-dancers, gave Supergirl that look.

Flash (ha!) forward to 2008. That look has largely disappeared. Supergirl’s fashion sense holds, and so does her age, at about fifteen. Every time Kara Zor-El shows up in a comic, DC artists are required to illustrate the mons pubis of a minor. It’s a little creepy. And the very first page of the Holiday Special shows the Maid of Might arriving at the Kent homestead for Christmas, in her little outfit, with the addition of a Santa hat and a beard. Artist Karl Kerschl gives Clark a smirk that he likely intends to say, heh, there’s my little cousin dressed as Santa, but that suggests something else, inappropriate for an adult man greeting his cousin. Ma Kent, meanwhile, looks strangely overjoyed.

Krypto wears those stupid reindeer antlers. Man, that’s one compliant super-dog.


The traditional scoring is not possible, because the comic features too many stories by too many people with too variable results.


  • “Season’s Greetings” poster depicts the Superman family on Christmas.
  • “The Man in Red” explores the origins of a certain colourful character who has a Fortress of Solitude at the North Pole. It represents a moderately interesting and well illustrated.
  • “Somewhere Beyond the Sea” features Aquaman in a story which parallels the Christian birth story—except this one involves a Kraken. I found this one stunningly dumb.
  • “Good King Wenceslas” provides illustrated lyrics to the celebrated carol.
  • “A Day Without Sirens” has been discussed under “High Points.”
  • “It’s a Wonderful Night” is a fairly trite “holiday in the life” tale involving Nightwing, Robin, and, erm, Captain Boomerang.
  • “Christmas with the Beetles” tells a comparatively clever tale spanning the careers of all three Blue Beetles. It captures their different personalities and styles.
  • “An Angel Told Me” sees the lines between the Huntress’s two identities blur as she attempts to help a troubled young man.
  • “The Night Before Christmas” gives us another “Holiday in the Life,” this one involving the Teen Titans and a blend of artistic techniques. It will appeal mainly to fans.
  • “The Party Animal” has been discussed under “High Points.”
  • “Happy Holidays” poster shows the world viewed from the Justice League satellite.

2 replies on “Review: DC Universe Holiday Special”

  1. Parmesan
    I remember when these cheesy Christmas specials were huge books that couldn’t fit in my regular box of comics. So annoying :P

    What I hated most was the break in continuity these things tended to have. The Bureau should do a rundown of some truly cheesy specials, like this one.

    • Daddy Long Legs?
      Yeah, because having long stringy legs and a top hat makes you a super-villain. This guy should’ve gone up against the Mystery Men or the Great Lakes Avengers.

      I remember when these cheesy Christmas specials were huge books that couldn’t fit in my regular box of comics. So annoying :P

      What I hated most was the break in continuity these things tended to have. The Bureau should do a rundown of some truly cheesy specials, like this one.

      A friend of mine reviewed Christmas with the Super-heroes, the definitive huge-sized 70s special which reprinted older Christmas stories and includes some really wonky continuity.

      I’ve reviewed Infinite Holiday Special, which has a few stronger stories than this year’s contribution to the genre. Generally, though, comparing these to the better mainstream comics is like comparing the records the Beatles’ fan-club members received in the 1960s to one of their albums.

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