REVIEW: DC’s Very Merry Multiverse #1

DC’s Very Merry Multiverse #1 is here and seasonal specific comics can be very enjoyable and have the potential to become classics. It’s always fun to spend some time at the annual JSA / JLA Thanksgiving dinner, or peek in on our favorite heroes at Christmas to see what they’re up to.

This year’s holiday offering from DC takes us on a stroll through the Multiverse and lets us visit the holidays on alternate earths. Unfortunately, this hodgepodge of stories is filled with more nonsensical chaos than nostalgic cheer. Is it Christmassy? Kinda? Will it achieve classic status? Not likely. 

Full disclosure, I’m not a fan of the multiverse to begin with. I enjoy a good alternate timeline story as much as the next person, but some universes and concepts I just don’t feel warrant the permanent fixture in the DC continuity the Multiverse affords. That being said, while I struggled to read some of these holiday stories, there were a few bright spots.

Before I get into specifics though, let’s look at this issue’s one and only cover by Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, and Hi-Fi Design, who all make it look great. It depicts a multitude of Multiversal heroes constructing a massive Bat-Snow-Man, only to have it wrecked in good fun by Harley Quinn. The cover features 3 Supermen, a Bizarro and a Supergirl. It’s fun, it’s whimsical, it’s Christmassy, and features a ton of DC characters. Everything you could hope for in a Christmas Special cover. If only the interior could say the same.

DC's Very Merry Multiverse #1
Photo Credit: DC Entertainment

There are 10 short stories featured inside, all taking place on different Earths, all at the Holiday Season. These 10 stories are all produced by different artist and writer teams. I imagine DC approached these 10 writers and told them to to have at whatever multiverse story they personally wanted to tell (rather than handing out assignments). As such, we get some repetitive villains, and some that are really out there far from the mainstream stories.

I’ll start with what I liked. I found four out of the six stories enjoyable, only one of which featured Super characters. 

Batman: “Christmas by Gaslight” was set in the famous gaslight universe and was a fun and heartwarming Christmas story featuring Batman, Mr. Freeze, and Plastic man, all decked out in the Victorian style of that world. 

Booster Gold: “‘Twas the Night” was a very nice surprise for me, as it was drawn by one of my all-time favorite artists, Todd Nauck! It was made delightful just by his artwork alone, but was heightened further by taking place entirely inside the Planet Krypton restaurant of the Kingdom Come Universe.

Batman Beyond: “Holidays Beyond” of course takes place in the Batman Beyond Universe / Timeline, and fits in nicely with the other Holiday Specials of the Batman Animated Series Universe, giving us a heartwarming story reminicent of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”

And the first Super-centric story, Teen Justice: “To Stop the Star-Conqueress!” Which takes place in the gender swapped universe of Earth 11, home of Superwoman and Batwoman, and now, making their first appearance, the Super Daughters! That’s right, we now have female versions of the Super Sons! The only thing Christmasy about this story (as is also in most of remaining stories) is that it only happens to be taking place during the holidays. Other than that, it’s basically just a big fight scene as Teen Justice battles the female version of Starro! It’s a fun romp, getting to see the many gender-swapped versions of our favorite heroes. 

The two other Superman specific stories, President Superman: “Bizarro Love Holiday,” and The Unjustice League of Unamerica: “Have Yourself a Bizarro Little Christmas” as you can tell both feature Bizarro, a character that can be great if handled correctly.

The President Superman story handled him well I think, though the story itself had two major pitfalls for me. The first being the narration. I’m never really a fan of non-character narration in comics, unless by rare exception it truly adds something unique to the experience, like in Tom King’s Vision series. In Christmas stories, it can be a cliche, and as such, takes me out of the story. What I did love about this story was the introduction of a new holiday which has been created by Superman, I love that David F Walker did that. Heck I’m up for celebrating this in real life. I love the fact that Superman has created something that all religions, all races and all people can participate in and enjoy, thus bringing them together. Though we don’t get the nostalgia from the holiday because it’s something we haven’t experienced, I love the whole concept of it. What’s more I absolutely adore the artwork. Gustavo Duarte is one of my favourite artists, his pieces are so animated and full of personality. I think this story certainly benefits from this artwork. I particularly loved the detail of the hair texture on his version of Bizarro.

The “Have Yourself a Bizarro Little Christmas,” story takes place entirely on Bizarro world with an entirely Bizarro cast. I don’t know if this was done on purpose to make things more chaotic, or writing Bizarro is too confusing, but the Bizarro dialogue sometimes really hard to understand in this story. Sometimes it means the opposite of what they’re saying, sometimes it doesn’t, sometimes it switches between the two in mid sentence. Personally my favorite way to have Bizarro speak is just straightforward meanings in broken English as seen in Superman The Animated Series. Easy to understand and you still get a good representation of the character. But this was sadly one of the stories that I really struggled to read, it may just be me, but I just didn’t get what the concept of it all was. I’m a huge Bizarro fan, but sadly this just didn’t do it for me.

Hear me. The plethora of writers and artists on DC’s Very Merry Multiverse #1 are very talented. Everything looks great, and the stories are mostly well-written, it’s just the plot and character choices that let me down in some cases.

DC’s Very Merry Multiverse #1 has a few quality heartwarming holiday tales and the introduction of a brand new holiday from Superman himself, but sadly suffers from some unfortunate choices in the majority of the stories.

Haven’t picked up your copy of DC’s Very Merry Multiverse #1 yet? You can get your copy here (UK), or here (US).

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