Archive for March, 2018

Posted Wednesday, March 28th, 2018 by Barry

Harley Quinn Holiday Special

Originally the Joker’s moll for a one off on Batman: the Animated Series, Harley Quinn has exploded in the pop consciousness in the past five years.

No one knew the impact the character would have when she first appeared on B:tAS in 1992. It was – to the month – another year before her first appearance in comic book form, Batman Adventures 12 where she shared the cover with Batgirl and Poison Ivy for “Batgirl Day One.”

Harley wouldn’t receive her own series until 2000 in her self-titled comic book running 38 issues.

By 2014 she was poised for her meteoric rise that had been a slow avalanche at first. Her second series was one of DC’s New 52 titles with a holiday special following that December.

The first of three stories, “Bad Toy,” allows Harley to revert to her psychologist origins to repair a little girl’s and her father’s relationship.

“Get Yer Cheer Outta My Ear” is a short romp in madness caused by a holiday bug and cured by Santa and sweets.

“Killer Time” rings in the New Year with a grey hair as Harley tries to halt Tyme (read the story).

Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palimotti pen the three tales with various artists giving life to the written word. Darwyn Cooke pencils and inks the final story.

Posted Tuesday, March 27th, 2018 by Barry

Sleepwalker Holiday Special

Sleepwalker Holiday Special

Sleepwalker Holiday Special

One of only two issues not written by creator Bob Budansky, this 1993 offering serves up two stories, “Tricks of the Trade” and “Insomnia.”

In the first Harold Pruitt deals with the defection of his best girl, unexpected unemployment and mounting bills along with the normal pressures of the holiday season.

Rather than finding a lamp to rub, Pruitt finds a credit card to swipe unleashing a spirit promising to fulfill all his wishes. For a price.

Jyn, the “genie,” sends a minion to do his bidding which runs afoul of the Sleepwalker. As in all Marvel tales a fight ensues causing mayhem enough Pruitt renounces Jyn. The denunciation does not end the evil spirit’s reign on Earth and the Sleepwalker must find another way to dispatch the demon.

In the second story the Sleepwalker must overcome the insomnia – hence the name – of his human host to foil a museum robbery and avenge an attack on the night watchman.

Sleepwalker debuted in 1991 and ran 33 issues reading like a poor man’s Sandman in tights with a dash of DC’s Spectre in evidence. Bundansky has been credited with creating the character in the 1970s, long before it saw print, maybe giving the edge to The Spectre as inspiration, but with the popularity of the Sandman title it could be Marvel was hoping to hop on the DC’s coattails once more.

Posted Monday, March 26th, 2018 by Barry

My Little Pony Equestria Girls

My Little Pony Equestria Girls (2014)

My Little Pony Equestria Girls (2014)

Sunset appears to be the object of this derivative Aesop fable delivered in December 2014, but is vindicated by book’s end.

As the holidays approach Apple Jack finds Sunset is alone again. A quick text leads to a round robin of slumber parties hosted by the other fillies. However, when one of AJ’s family secrets is reveled to the school population suspicion sets in and when embarrassing photos and disparaging remarks begin after the second sleepover Sunset becomes to be the prime suspect.

By book’s end all is forgiven and the real culprits are revealed allowing for a happy ending and Merry Christmas.

Again, not a Brony, but the story does have a nice moral to it. A good read for the younger audience, filled with bright colors and acts as a nice catalog and manual complimenting Hasbro’s toy line launched the year before.

As explained on the Wiki page, “Equstria Girls follows Princess Twilight Sparkle in the parallel world, which is accessed through the magic mirror. Together, with the counterparts of her pony friends, Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, Applejack, Rarity and Fluttershy, along with her assistant Spike, Twilight will have to deal with the various magical happenings in Canterlot High.”

Posted Friday, March 23rd, 2018 by Barry

The Last Christmas

A non-traditional Christmas story solicited during a non-traditional Christmas time, February through August 2006.

The Last Christmas is the brain child of Garry Duggan and Brian Poshen as brought to page by Hilary Barta. Most know Poshen and Duggan’s names from their collaboration on Deadpool and Poshen’s hangdog face from Big Bang Theory in his role as Bert the geologist.

Together the pair crafted a post-apocalyptic world where Christmas, and humanity, is on the verge of extinction. Only the belief of one boy keeps the legend of Santa Claus alive during his self-imposed exile while subsisting on rum, pancakes and suicide attempts.

Not for the squeamish. In total, the five books provide enough death and destruction to keep even the most devout Rob Zombie fan happy.

Posted Thursday, March 22nd, 2018 by Barry

World of Archie Double Digest 23

At a 192 pages this digest weighs in at one big read.

Most of the book consists of Christmas stories, but not all, so be warned.

Included are:

  • “The Visit” – A gold button makes Archie wonder if his dream was real or not.
  • “Tree Trouble” -Mr. Lodge, Archie and Veronica go back to nature for a Christmas tree.
  • “The List Price” – Veronica receives the gift of Christmas from Betty.
  • “One Last Gift” – Archie’s dad learns giving comes from the heart.
  • “Wisecracker” – Christmas is a time of affection and confection for Archie and Betty.
  • “Merry Merchant” – Pops finds Santa has no head for business.
  • “Never too Late” – A donation saves Christmas for Archie.
  • “Christmas Miss” – The Lodges realize the Christmas spirit.
  • “Santa’s Cause” – The Riverdale gang learn there really is a Santa Claus.

C’mon, what red-blooded American male wouldn’t wanna live in Riverdale? Plenty of beautiful women, cheap food and grown-ups who rarely interfere with your personal life. And, this has been going on since 1941.

World of Archie Double Digest 23

Okay, it’s a little different now. After the new millennium entered its teens things began to change and Archie Publications diversified with more relevant material. In 2013 Afterlife with Archie joined the zombie apocalypse conga line. A year later the company would delve deeper into the horror genre with The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and Jughead the Hunger in 2017.

Still, for almost 70 halcyon years Riverdale was an oasis of teenage dreams in American culture.

And, they weren’t afraid to celebrate Christmas.

Posted Wednesday, March 21st, 2018 by Barry

Grimm Fairy Tales St. Patrick’s Day Special 2013

Okay, a little late with the St. Patty’s Day offering, but never one to disappoint Four Color Holidays brings readers a special from 2013.

Dr. Sela Mathers, Doctor/Professor of Literature – with a minor in fairy tale fantasies come to life – decides on a girl’s night out – alone.

The dark and stormy night leads her to a pub where she finds herself the attention of three strangers all with stories to tell. One drink leads to another as do the tales, “Candy from a Baby,” “Marriages of Jenna Normandy” and “The Will.” As she was drawn to the pub, the story tellers are drawn to Mathers.

By the fourth Irish Whisky Mathers realizes the coincidences are more than that and really the work of a Leprechaun, though the real villain of the story is revealed as greed.

I’ve always been leery of the title based on the cheesecake covers, feeling Grimm Fairy Tales was more sex than substance. However, if this is any indication of the interior work, I may rethink reading these. Deep down Grimm Fairy tales has one of DC’s “House” book anthology feels with a dash of X-Files.

Posted Tuesday, March 20th, 2018 by Barry

Flash Gordon Holiday Special (2014)

Having inspired the Star Wars universe, Flash Gordon took to the space ways for the 2014 holidays to inspire Christmas on the planet Arboria in the first of three short stories.

Flash tells of the traditional trappings celebrated on Earth while the natives contrast with those of Arboria’s Khris-Mass. Myth and nature meet to create a memorable merging of both holidays as Arboria’s youth tout the feats of Jungle Jim, possibly an amalgam of Santa and Tarzan?

Stories return to Earth with Juhrg the Beast-Man finding salvation from his solitude in Wonders and Salvations. Practitioners of the Jewish faith find they are still persecuted in the future, but a child leads his family from the darkness of ignorance.

Finally, Dale Arden revisits previous New Year’s eves before her excursion to space learning from the past to help the present in Resolutions.


Posted Saturday, March 17th, 2018 by Jeff

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Cheer up, Batman.

Artwork by The-Blackcat.

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Posted Wednesday, March 14th, 2018 by Barry

Batman 239 (1940)

Batman 239

Batman 239

Still one of the best Batman Christmas stories ever written Silent Night, Deadly Night is courtesy of Denny O’Neil with a cover from Neal Adams and interior art by Irv Novick.

O’Neil was responsible for putting a little reality back in the world of Gotham. After comic books were neutered by the Comics Code Authority, Batman limped through the 1950s solving crimes with backdrops of oversized everyday items, fighting aliens (not the green card kind) and enjoying a revival of sorts via his questionable celebrity garnered from his weekly twice prime-time appearance in “living color.”

As dusk was allowed to settle on Batman again, the full nightfall was just outside the Batcave as, most notably, O’Neil, Adams and Novick moved the Caped Crusader into the shadows.

Issue 239 is the first Christmas issue for Batman in decades and he makes full use of the holiday stopping a down-on-his-luck uncle from making the worst mistake of his life.

Fans were treated to a flashback in Batman’s career with a reprint of issue 15, The Loneliest Men in the World, which has already been discussed on the web site.

Posted Friday, March 2nd, 2018 by Barry

Batman the Outsider

For many Christmas is not the happiest time of the year as the incomparable Alex Ross depicts in what could be one of the saddest illustrations of Batman I’ve ever seen.
The only thing that could make this scene sorrier is if Ross had used the Detroit-era Justice League.

Looking In

Looking In