Review – DC’s Grifter Got Run Over By a Reindeer #1: Holiday Mayhem

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Grifter Got Run Over By a Reindeer #1 cover, via DC Comics.

DC’s Grifter Got Run Over By A Reindeer #1 – Stephanie Williams, Dave Wielgosz, John Layman, Cavan Scott, Max Bemis, Scott Bryan Wilson, Michael W. Conrad, Derek Fridolfs, Writers; David Lapham, PJ Holden, Juan Doe, Fico Ossio, Pablo M. Collar, Skylar Partridge, Christopher Mitten, Carlos D’Anda/Dustin Nguyen, Artists; Nick Filardi, Mike Spicer, Sebastian Cheng, Ivan Plascencia, Romulo Fajardo Jr, Brennan Wagner, Carrie Strachan, Colorists

Ray – 8.5/10

Ray: This year’s holiday anthology—the first of two with a Wildstorm theme this week—celebrates DC’s antiheroes and more offbeat characters for the most part. How do the eight stories within deliver?

Credits. Via DC Comics.

First up are Stephanie Williams and David Lapham on “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Dog,” a Superman and Wonder Woman tale where the two heroes foil a cryptid-hunter trying to poach some yetis, and then team up for Christmas at a community center with Lois and Jon. It would be a nice, laid-back tale—if it wasn’t for a D-list villain getting a strange vision of a monster horned dog, and going to harass the heroes and a dressed-up Krypto just as Superman’s trying to make his grand entry as a flying Santa. It’s a fun, laid-back tale that reminds me a lot of Dan Jurgens’ more whimsical stories.

Yeti hunters. Via DC Comics.

Next up, Frankenstein takes the helm in “Last Christmas” by Wielgosz and Holden. This ridiculous supernatural tale starts with Frankenstein battling a giant snowman monster named Freezy—who is essentially Frosty if he became embittered with his holiday existence. When Frankenstein’s heart goes missing, he and the snowlem go on a mission to get it back—along with every other hero who Frank has helped over the years, as Freezy slowly discovers his joy in existing again. Featuring a surprisingly likable Gorilla Grodd and a demonic Ebenezer Scrooge, it’s the strangest story in the volume—and surprisingly heartwarming.

John Layman and Juan Doe give us our Harley Quinn Hanukkah story in “Eight Crazy Nights,” not to be confused with the Adam Sandler movie. At least, the title made me think it would be Hanukkah-based—instead it’s a strange tale of Harley battling giant holiday-themed monsters including gingerbread kaiju and feral reindeer for eight nights, courtesy of a new 5th-dimensional imp—the second introduced this month. This is definitely a fun story, and Juan Doe’s visuals are perfect, although I wish it did a little more with Harley’s multi-faith background.

“Home for the Holidays,” by Cavan Scott and Fico Ossio, deals with Hawkman and Hawkwoman as they spend very different holidays on different worlds. Hawkman, in his Carter Hall persona, is haunted by memories in St. Roch and comes under assault by a monstrous holiday beast. Meanwhile, Hawkwoman is on Thanagar as a surprise snowfall throws the entire planet into chaos. The truth isn’t what it appears to be, and the reunion at the end packs a nice emotional punch, although this is a complex story that maybe needed to be a bit longer.

Max Bemis and Pablo M. Collar turn the focus on Black Canary and Constantine in “Not So Silent Night,” which is easily the oddest story in the volume, with only the lightest holiday theme. Set in a world where a cosmic curse has left people only able to say the word “Darkseid,” Dinah and Constantine team up with a band of sound-based heroes including Vibe and Cyborg to try to break the curse through the power of punk rock. It’s very wordy, at least in Constantine’s narration, and takes several completely absurd twists before revealing all its secrets.

“Memory and Forfeits,” by Scott Bryan Wilson and Skylar Partridge, is our Batman story as the Caped Crusader spends the holidays like he does best—fighting some goons. Each night, another supervillain shows up with an ill-advised scheme, and even a few new ones make their debut. But as we work our way through the twelve days of Christmas, Batman begins to realize something’s up—and our mastermind is playing a game of her own. The story has an odd structure, but the oddly sweet finish is worth the journey.

Michael W. Conrad and Christopher Mitten are the creative team on “Do You See What I See?,” an Animal Man story that starts with Buddy Baker seriously injured on a lonely, cold road as he desperately seeks an animal that can heal him quickly. And he has a special reason for needing to get home—it’s his family’s first Christmas since they lost Cliff (way back in the Jeff Lemire run). This is a darkly melancholy tale, calling back to a ten-year-old story that most people weren’t sure was even in continuity, but it shows Conrad’s skill with thorny topics and feels a lot more like his indie work.

Finally, it’s Grifter’s turn to shine! Derek Fridolfs, Carlos D’Anda, and Dustin Nguyen tell the tale of Cole Cash’s Christmas—which he spends robbing everyone blind. First he rips off his own team, leading to him being fired, and then he goes on a crime spree against the Bat-Cave, the Daily Planet, and even Themyscira, leading to just about everyone in the DCU being pissed off at him. It’s frantic and funny, with Nguyen’s Little Gotham-style segments being the best, but it doesn’t exactly have a compelling lead character. Grifter’s just a jerk.

Overall, this is a fun issue, but there’s a real quality and theming issue that makes it not quite mesh.

To find reviews of all the DC issues, visit DC This Week.

GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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