DC’s Very Merry Multiverse: “It’s a Horrible Life!”
In an It’s A Wonderful Life spoof, Harley Quinn’s guardian angel drags her through the multiverse as he tries to help her find her holiday spirit.
“It’s a Horrible Life!” is the first of ten short stories in DC’s Very Merry Multiverse: a holiday offering depicting DC characters in a variety of festive scenarios. “It’s A Horrible Life!” puts Harley Quinn in an “It’s a Wonderful Life” parody as her guardian angel drags her through the multiverse in an effort to show Harley that her life has meaning and to help her find the Christmas spirit. The tone is generally sarcastic, irreverent, and gratuitously violent. Regrettably, Harley’s Jewishness is thrown out the window, as is her doe-eyed obsession with Christmas from her origins in Batman: The Animated Series. There are better Harley holiday stories, but this one is fine while it lasts. Reader enjoyment depends heavily on Scheer and Giovanetti’s breed of humor, which recalls the recent adult Harley Quinn cartoon. While the comic has a sentimental subplot, which follows Harley’s guardian angel’s attempt to reunite with his estranged siblings, Scheer and Giovanetti undercut it like the rest. (The identity of his siblings is probably the story’s greatest gag.)
The art from Steve Lieber does a good job of capturing Scheer and Giovanetti’s tone, with the blood and guts reminiscent of strawberry jam and Harley herself a ball of energy. The cool and washed out palette adopted by colorist Marissa Louise throughout the main timeline nicely mimics the winter chill and allows the red highlights of Harley to shine. Though Lieber’s art is occasionally inconsistent – Harley’s facial proportions can shift uncomfortably – readers will enjoy his success in making Harley’s guardian angel so clearly resemble Henry Travers (Clarence in It’s a Wonderful Life). It’s a great visual nod for readers familiar with the quintessential if overplayed Christmas classic.
The cover for Very Merry Multiverse by Ivan Reis and Joe Prado depicts the protagonists of the short stories gathered together building a snowman shaped like Batman as Harley Quinn takes her mallet to it. A few characters feel stiff or under-detailed, but it’s generally fun.
While this comic short may have the staying power of a Lifetime movie, it doesn’t overstay its welcome and is perfect for people who are fed up with holiday cheer and It’s a Wonderful Life re-runs.
“It’s A Horrible Life!” is a darkly comical take on a Christmas classic. All of its jokes don’t land, but it’s fun while it lasts: great if you want more Harley Quinn and less seasonal schmaltz.
DC’s Very Merry Multiverse #1: “It’s a Horrible Life!”
Writing - 7/107/10
Storyline - 7/107/10
Art - 7/107/10
Color - 7.5/107.5/10
Cover Art - 7/107/10
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