Written by: Lee Bermejo, Jeff Loveness, Paul Dini, Vita Ayala, Gabriel Hardman, Corinna Bechko
Illustrated by: Francesco Mattina, David Williams, John Paul Leon, Gabiel Hardman,
Colours by: Steve Buccellato, June Chung, Matthew Wilson
Letters by: Tom Napolitano, Carlos M. Mangual, Deron Bennett, Clayton Cowles
Cover by: Amanda Conner
Published by: DC Comics
One of the reasons I love DC Comics is because of the range of villains they have, you can get anything on the spectrum from goofy and zany to serious and solemn. The best part is that depending on the writer it can even be one character on this spectrum. Take the Joker for example, sometimes he is insanely goofy and other times disturbing.
With this special summer issue of DC villain stories I judged the tone of the piece by the cover which is blatantly wacky and funny. I was excited for a light-hearted selection of stories about my favourite characters – but I’m sad to say I was disappointed by what was inside.
Don’t get me wrong, none of the stories in this pack are especially terrible (albeit some of them are very confusing and barely related to summer). It was just that a lot of the stories were way more serious than I was expecting and, being from the UK, a half-hearted mention of the 4th of July or just the general fact that it is hot isn’t enough to put me in the summer mood. I personally need something just a bit more universal to represent summer.
I felt that there were only a few stories that really hit the mark for me. My standout shorts include stories featuring Mr Freeze, Lex Luther, Gigantica and The Young Penguin. These stories were all different to each other in tone and themes but I felt captured what I really wanted from this special; humorous short stories with a satisfying end and a story which felt complete.
Gigantica’s self-entitled story was fun, she visits her home town and gets some sweet revenge on high school bullies and The Young Penguin’s story played on many stereotypes about ‘summer bodies’ with a sick twist at the end.
Also, despite the only real link to summer being the fact that it’s hot, I felt that Lex Luther’s story ‘Help’ really embodied the summer spirit with an ultimately uplifting one-shot story. Plus, it gets extra points for Superman eating a burrito.
My favourite short by far was the story featuring Mr. Freeze. ‘Close Shave’ was the exact kind of story that I was expecting to see in this bumper issue. It was silly and funny, tied in with summer perfectly (the entire story is based around a shaved ice truck that is using Mr. Freeze’s likeness and name) and ended with a light-hearted feel good moment. I just wish more of the stories could have been like this.
The other stories weren’t terrible but just didn’t hit the ‘summery’ or funny mark for me. However, the first and last stories were so weak and unrelated to anything to do with summer that I feel like they shouldn’t have been featured at all.
First with Bizarro and The Joker in ‘Worst Finest’. The link to summer that they tried to squeeze in was a brief fight in an amusement park and it was just too serious. Combined with the fact that this was the first story they chose to set the tone for this collection was a stark and jarring contrast to the bright and colourful front cover.
The final story featuring The Crime Syndicate, ‘Independence’, was the one that had the link to the Fourth of July, as I mentioned earlier, and it was dark and confusing. It felt as if it was a continuation of a current story line which just didn’t work as a one-shot that these stories are meant to be. Not to mention that both these sotries felt as if they were intended for an older audience conflicting with the goofy and cartoony cover art.
I also felt that the order was odd, the tone was all over the place and there was no real flow between all of the stories. There was just such a mixture of genres and it infrequently chopped and changed between them. Above all it should not feel like a chore to read a collection of one shots.
I’m sure that you would like at least one of the stories found in these pages, but the chance of only liking one of them certainly isn’t enough guarantee for me to run out and buy a copy.