DC's Very Merry Multiverse #1: The League of Shadows
Joy to all 52 worlds-it’s time to celebrate the holiday season across the DC Multiverse! In ten stories that will light your yule log and spike your eggnog, Batman decks the gaslit halls, Lobo goes Old Testament in space, Ragman learns the true meaning of Saturnalia, President Superman attempts to figure out how Bizarro stole Christmas, and Harley Quinn tries her hand at interdimensional caroling. These seasonal sagas are sure to help you have yourself a very merry Multiverse!
The holidays are always a great time to sit back with some nice hot cocoa next to the fireplace and enjoy some great horror stories, right? Or is that just me? Well in DC’s Very Merry Multiverse #1, we find a terror-filled League of Shadows story titled Night of the Magi where Ragman learns all about the ancient pagan festival Saturnalia!
Saturnalia is a festival that included plenty of partying and gift giving, and is often credited for inspiring many Christmas traditions practiced today. But in the League of Shadows story, there isn’t much celebrating going on. Ragman and his team including some of DC’s most horrific powers like Enchantress and Superdemon of Earth-13 take on not just the Lord of Misrule but even themselves, as they try to save even just one life.
Is it a feel good story? Maybe not in the way you might expect. This story is one of learning to understand yet still seeking to do good even against terrible forces. Sholly Fisch’s writing carries a well rounded short story in these pages which are brought to life by Vanesa Del Rey’s sometimes abstract artwork that lends itself to the horror aesthetic of the story. With Tamra Bonvillain’s always excellent colors accenting the artwork, it certainly stands out in the collection of holiday stories for DC’s Very Merry Multiverse with its unique tone and approach.
This is a good story for those who are fans of the horror side of DC, but it also falls short in the pacing despite only being a few pages long. Each page seems packed with lettering that Ferran Delgado attempts to weave some sort of linear coherence into but it ultimately gets to be a little too much, making it difficult to follow at times. It can feel like the dialogue is trying to catch up on more information than the pages can handle or will allow. While it’s awesome to see Ragman come to terms with the emotional revelation of his powers and what it means to save even one life, most of the rest of the team gets lost in the shuffle of battle.
A story about the pagan festival Saturnalia was always going to be an interesting choice in a holiday special from DC Comics and no doubt plenty will be learning more about the historical roots after reading this story. I personally love a good horror story in the holiday times and it’s great to see DC showing some love to the more spooky side of their publishing lineup outside of October. The creative team here does some interesting work in the League of Shadows story but outside of the spectacle of the premise, it might fall into less than memorable territory amongst the collection of stories.
The League of Shadows short gives the horror side of DC Comics an interesting spotlight in the Very Merry Multiverse #1 collection with a lesson on ancient traditions you may not know quite as much about.
DC’s Very Merry Multiverse #1: The League of Shadows
Writing - 7/107/10
Storyline - 8/108/10
Art - 8/108/10
Color - 9/109/10
Cover Art - 8/108/10
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