“A Very Harley Holiday” opens with Harley dressed in a brown sweater, black pants boots and green snow cap entering stage right of an auditorium stage. She asks for lights and starts talking about holiday traditions leading up to what she calls the tradition that shines the brightest, the Task Force Xmas Party. Unfortunately the team drank up the budget on St Patrick’s Day in March. She opts for the next best thing as she takes off her outer clothing and reveals a Christmas themed swimsuit and a Big Splashy Holiday Special. It will be a big entertainment extravaganza where celebrities only sharing the most tangential relationships try to act all chummy. To illustrate, she approaches the Green Lantern Jessica Cruz and asks if she knows her. Jessica does not think so so Harley walks away.
The first act is Zatanna and Black Canary with Music and Magic. Canary sings the Twelve Days of Christmas while Zatanna conjures up each gift.
This leads to the first story: “Superman and Batman in The Last Minute”. It opens with Superman and Batman fighting a rainbow monster. Superman quickly smashes the monster but remembers he has to still get his Jon’s present, a Monk-E-Monsters Interactive System. He steaks off leaving Batman. We change scenes to Hamilton County. Jon is on the phone with Robin as he fights an onslaught of brightly colored cretins while resisting the urge to kill them. Jon asks Damian if he ever wanted to be a normal kid and just play.
Superman flies changing to Clark Smith, his secret identity and constantly getting side tracked by being Superman. Each time he gets to a store, he finds the system sold out. Finally in Gotham, Superman finds a Santa being robbed by a thug and he steaks into action delaying him again. He finds the system but instead Damian Wayne shows up and buys the last system.
The Wayne’s are in Hamilton County to have Christmas dinner with the Smith’s. It is Christmas Eve and Jon and Damian run to the tree to pick one present each. Clark starts to tell Jon that he could not get the system he wanted when he opens Damian’s present. Damian gave Jon the system he bought earlier. Clark asks Bruce if he knew and he says that he did not. Later, Bruce has to leave to start his patrol but before he leaves he tells Clark that he is sorry Damian stole his thunder with Jon. Clark just says that Damian gave Jon something he could not, a friend and a chance to feel like a normal kid. Clark asks Bruce if he wants to play and the two set out for some “strategic training”.
Harley comes back to show a “Christmas cartoon”. Killer Frost, Mr. Freeze and Captain Cold are holding up Santa who is attacked by Harley riding Krypto. Santa still is not able to fly as the reindeer all have colds. Harley hitches Krypto to the sled and he leads Santa’s sleigh away.
This segs to the story Superboy in For the Dog Who Has Everything. Jon wants to get Krypto a present to make him feel more normal. Superman takes Jon to the Fortress of Solitude to experience Krypton’s history. Jon comes across Superman’s older suits and has an idea. He and Clark retro wine of Superman’s first belts into a collar for Krypto.
Harley comes back to talk about presents. Wonder Woman asks Batman if he forgot to shop again and Batman says not yet. He sends out texts telling everyone that a gift in their name has been given to the Wayne Foundation Police Retirement Fund. Everyone is not pleased with this present including Harley.
The next story is Batman and Detective Chimp in the Night We Saved Christmas. The story begins with Batman and Chimp standing over the body of an elf in what looks like blood while Detective Chimp holds a smoking gun.
We flashback to a mall Santa asking Chimp to look for his missing dog. The dog was stolen by Jimmy “Fingers” McFinnegan which draws Chimp to accept the case. He goes to Wayne Manor looking for Batman. Alfred answers the door and Bobo goes to the cave. Bobo approaches Batman and tells him about his case. Batman is working on the murder of the deputy mayor. Chimp tells him that a new office means new flowers which means pollen causing anaphylactic shock. The killer sent the flowers. The two go off to search for the dog. They try Arkham Asylum, Ace Chemicals and the Iceberg Lounge, no luck. Chimp has one more card to play, Romero’s. We find McFinnegan talking to Penguin. Bobo goes after them and “Fingers” throws a knife at Bobo and runs out to be confronted by Batman. Fingers avoids him and continues running pulls his gun and shoots. We see Finnegan laying in the snow on his face with what looks like blood coming from his head. Batman accuses Bobo of shooting Fingers. Bobo fired a shot into the air and the red liquid is Campari. Fingers is drunk and slipped knocking himself out and spilling his drink. The two interrogate Finnegan and he tells them that the animal is stashed in a storage locker. They find that the animal was not a dog but instead a reindeer. They load him up in the Batmobile and return to Wayne Manor. Bobo tries unsuccessfully to contact his client. Noel finally contacts Bobo and arrives at the Manner to pick up the reindeer. Unfortunately the airports are closed so Bobo is stuck in Gotham. He stays to celebrate Christmas with Alfred and Bruce while we see Santa’s sleigh in the background.
Back to Harley, she is with Superman and Wonder Woman talking about holiday memories. Diana starts with her remembrances of the the Solstice Ritual while Superman just talks about a tree.
The next story is Wonder Woman and Constantine in Dreaming of a White Christmas. Constantine is searching for Brangwen at a witches’ holiday celebrated on the grounds of a witch burning site. John is having unpleasant dreams and he wants them to stop. He finds Wonder Woman who is searching for Dionysus who has left Olympus. The two grudgingly agree to search together. They find that their two targets have been seen together but now they have disappeared. Constantine approaches another young witch performing a ritual and hijacks her communication to bring up a little assistance, the dead spirits. These are the deceased witches of Lancaster. A dead midwife reads them to a castle. Wonder Woman chases after a fake Dionysus and Constantine confronts Brangwen. Wonder Woman returns demanding Constatine’s assistance and he goes off to help Diana catch the fake Dionysus. In order to remove the nightmare spell John has to tell Brangwen the nightmare. He tells her and she goes off laughing with Diana. We see that John is dreaming of sitting on Santa’s lap in a mall.
Back at the party, Flash and the rogues are singing Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot which segs to the the next story, A Flash Christmas Carol. Barry is visiting a foster home and meets Malcolm, who is worries that Santa will not be able to find him in the snow. Barry tells the boy that he too was a foster kid and was afraid of not being found on his first Christmas with a new family, not to worry Santa has some very special helpers.
The rouges are robbing a bank when they are confronted by the Flash. Cold planted twelve bombs across the city and Flash can either find the bombs who stop them. Flash goes off after the bombs while the rogues continue with their crime. Flash returns with the bombs and Heat Wave attacks in the may lay a truck speeds towards the Flash. Flash rescues the driver but the charity presents it was carrying were destroyed. The rogues feel guilty and trike a truce with Flash because he does not want the disappointment of kids on his conscience. They return the loot and lie low until New Year’s giving Flash the chance to get the presents to the kids.
The next story is New Super-Man in the Day of Returning. The Chinese Super-Man, Bat-Man and Wonder-Woman come across Red-Orchid, a super-villain with plant based powers. The three defeat the villain and the four of them end up having dinner before taking Orchid to jail.
At the party, Harley interrupts Canary and Zatanna wearing what she calls a mentor-antlers. Unfortunately she starts a fire on the stage and Canary uses the milk from the milking maids to put out the fire leading to the next story, Batman in Light and Dark.
Kate is reminiscing about her old Hanukkah celebrations with her father that are not happening since they are estranged now. She goes into a diner to buy a pie when she is interrupted by a man calling her Batwoman. She tells the man he has the wrong woman when two creeps come in. The man tells Kate to tell Zenith that Tributary says hello and lights go out Kate finds the men with a kid shooting at her. Kate discovers that an EMP went off and goes to a rotary phone to call Kit, and old friend of hers. Kit is a hacker who has high grade shielding and Kate asks her to find the source of the EMP. Kate rats about the man in the diner and repeats what he told her about telling Zenith that Tributary says hello. Kit tells Kate that she is Zenith, the message was for her. Tributary is her friend, he posted a manifesto online naming Tyman Industries, his former employer as an arms dealer supplying weapons to an anti U.S. foreign faction. The company went after him and will kill him, Batwoman goes into action. She attacks the company and rescues Tributary. Later we see Kate, Tributary and Kit at the diner. Tributary gives Kate a flash drive containing all the info to go after Tyman. We close with Kate telling Kit and Tributary the story of Hanukkah.
We join Harley reading A Christmas Carol when Raven comes up behind her and she hits her with the book knocking her out. Beast Boy enters looking for Raven. Harley gives him the book and leaves and Beast Boy tosses the book hitting Raven again.
The next story is the Titans in What a Year for a New Year. The Titans are tracking Honey Bun and her “Daddy”. They grabbed a S.T.A.R. Labs device. They tail them and Roy attempts to take out Honeybun like he did before but the shot does not work as she had been upgraded. The two speed off leaving the Titans. Nightwing has an idea, instead of catching them, they just have to push their buttons. They orchestrate a drag race with the crooks that allows Donna and Garth to attack and toss their car in the harbor which allows Roy to use an electric arrow to take down Honeybun. The team is in New York to watch the ball drop but Nightwing realizes that he is late.
Next is Batgirl and Nightwing in I Don’t Wanna be Late. While Nightwing is in New York, Batgirl is being delayed in Gotham. She and Dick both arrive at their meeting place at the same time to enjoy the fireworks together.
The last story is the Green Lanterns in Epiphany. Simon and Jessica are preparing the Three Kings Day dinner. Their preparations are interrupted by their rings. An unauthorized alien presence is detected and the two are called into action. The Lanterns find the Rickx. They have come to Earth for a long due judgement and a burden to bestow on the Lanterns. They are to accept various trials, a trial of suffering, sincerity and integrity. The aliens block the Lanterns communications isolating them. If they fail the trials, then Earth will be destroyed. The two accept the challenge.
Jessica finds herself scared in her home while Simon is back in detention. The two places the characters were when the rings found them. The rings find them and despite their knowledge of what the rings will bring, they accept them again passing the first trial.
The second trial pits the two Lanterns against one another. The aliens tell them that only one of them can be the true emissary of Earth and they must choose two that will be. Jessica thinks that Simon will choose himself over Jessica but instead he says that they are both Green Lanterns and they are a team it is both or none.
The third test is a battle with the aliens’ champion. Simon attacks but is quickly knocked out leaving Jessica alone. The alien offers Jessica a way out. If she withdraws from the battle, she will live but Earth will perish, the choice is hers. She decides to continue the fight and the champion disappears. The two have passed the trials and the aliens leave. Communications is restored and Hal Jordan checks in. Hal has no knowledge of the aliens’ presence and asks if the Lanterns are good.
The two return to enjoy the Three Kings cake.
We close the Holiday Spectacular with seasons greetings from the various characters and a promise of a bigger celebration next year but the budget is wasted in March once again.
I really did not like this issue. It was drudgery to get through. I believe that too much was crammed in in order to give as many traditions a chance to shine which is alright, but not what I am looking to read in a comic book.
My favorite stories were the Green Lanterns and the Batwoman stories. My least favorite may have been the Detective Chimp and Batman team up. The particularly disliked the art in that story. It did not look right, Batman looked overweight and Alfred was a stick.
There were a couple of good moments, but overall this was not an engaging issue for me. It was even extremely difficult writing this review with all the various mini stories.