Ever wonder what your favorite superheroes do during the holidays? Well, wonder no longer. Though the big companies like DC and Marvel have been known to publish one-shot holiday specials, there’s a new long-term project from DC that focuses specifically, and artistically, on how one corner of the DCU celebrates various holidays. Beginning with a Halloween issue, Batman: Li’l Gotham a digital first series (meaning it can be downloaded for half the price before it’s in stores), will give readers insight into how Batman, his friends and his foes deal with the major holiday of each month.
These one-shots, which premiered last week with a Halloween issue and will have Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s stories in the coming months, is written and drawn by Dustin Nguyen and co-written by Derek Fridolfs. They will be in Nguyen’s usual watercolor style, but will be far more playful and less serious than much of his work, and most of the Batman world. Fridolf’s used the word “whimsical” to describe the stories, a far cry from the traditional Bat comics.
The biggest news about these holiday featurettes? They take place outside of continuity. DC’s other kid-friendly non-continuity comics, like “Tiny Titans” and “Superman Family Adventures,” have long been fan favorites, and have shown a comedic sensibility that is able to reference and comment on continuity from the outside. “Li’l Gotham,” one can assume, will do the same. But even better than that, a series not tied to the DCnU means the appearance of lost but not forgotten characters. The biggest of these by far is Stephanie Brown, former Batgirl and one-time Robin, who appears in Nguyen’s promotional art for the series. As a major Steph fan myself, I can’t wait for her triumphant return to my comic shop. Especially since Nguyen has experience with her, having drawn some interiors and covers for her Batgirl series.
So how was the first issue of Li’l Gotham? Actually, pretty adorable. Batman has to teach his current Robin, the slightly sociopathic Damian, about Halloween. They have some run-ins with kids in villain costumes, as well as a few of the actual villains, and Damian learns to trick-or-treat. As usual Nguyen, a self-avowed Bat fan, shows that he knows these characters well. And while the story is light enough for younger readers, it was enjoyable for me to read as basically an adult.
The next issue, Thanksgiving in Gotham, goes online November 15th. Be sure to support this new series so that DC will continue to publish. Even if you, like me, are less than happy with the DCnU, Nguyen and Fridolf are giving us a great chance to enjoy our favorite characters without the angst and anger of the DC reboot.