DC Holiday Special 2017 #1 has to be one of the most uneven holiday specials DC has ever put out, and for a $9.99 price tag it’s pushing its luck.
The cover alone has to be one of the most misleading ones to ever grace the shelves of any comic book shop. Echoing a sense of wonder and joy, and supposedly brought to us by some of comics’ greatest creators, neither is quite represented within DC Holiday Special 2017 #1‘s contents. Technically speaking, only a couple of the stories do have that sense of wonder and joy, and some – literally, a very small number – of the creators could truly be considered as “greats”.
Instead, many of the short stories in DC Holiday Special 2017 #1 are grim or cynical. The Sgt. Rock story, while a standout for what it is, basically revolves around a slow, agonizing death. The Deathstroke story is a domestic squabble between a pair of killers. Batman stops a murder from being committed by a man haunted by the ghost of his dead grandmother who died horribly at Christmas, while Swamp Thing stops a mentally deranged man on a space station from killing his fellow astronauts. There’s little Christmas cheer to be found here.
At Bibbo’s bar, the Ace O’ Clubs in Metropolis, John Constantine laments the current state of the world after what’s been a rough year. While Bibbo considers throwing him out for bringing down the mood of the place, another customer – Clark Kent – wonders the same thing. But Bibbo reminds him that seeing all the good Superman does in the world proves that there’s always hope. It isn’t just Superman who does that too, because there are other superheroes who make a difference every day as well, and Bibbo tells him of their stories.
For Black Canary and Green Arrow, rescuing a shipment of toys for orphans brings holiday cheer. The Flash helps transport home the many families stranded at the airport during a snowstorm. Starfire and her team battle the malevolent spirit of Christmas Past, while Batman and Wonder Woman are reminded of the hope they bring. One of Sgt. Rock’s Easy Company transports a German prisoner despite being wounded, while Slade Wilson has to retrieve a nuclear detonator in time to join his family for the holidays. But what can Clark Kent and John Constantine learn from each other about the spirit of Christmas?
The Flash story and the one featuring Black Canary and Green Arrow at least have some heart to them, although they both also touch on topics which are a little too depressing. Strangely, the Atomic Knights story (which seems to come out of nowhere) offers one of the more hopeful tales even though it’s light-hearted hokum. Individually, each story would probably work better on their own, but when joined together in this volume the whole cumulative effect is a downer.
Also, we’ll ignore the stupidity of Superman and his family entertaining Constantine at home… while the Man of Steel wears his costume instead of his regular clothes. But hey, it’s Christmas, so logic be damned.
DC Holiday Special 2017 #1 is average at best, far from the sort of special showcase that DC should be putting on to celebrate the season and, at the cover price, it’s a rip-off. Since the bookend storyline is how heroes provide hope even in these troubled times, it’s astonishing that many of the stories didn’t seem to grasp that concept and reflect it. Sadly, it’s less of a special and more like getting a lump of coal in your stocking.