DC Nuclear Winter Special #1 Review

by Hussein Wasiti on November 28, 2018

Another season, another DC holiday special. I quite liked how DC thought a bit outside the box for this collection instead of the usual Christmas-themed compilation. I liked all of these stories save for one, which is a massive accomplishment, genuinely. I normally think a lot of these are stories from some dusty drawer but the interesting theme led to some awesome stories, notably the ones by Tom Taylor and Yasmin Putri, and Steve Orlando and Brad Walker.
Rip Hunter: Time Master in "The Nuclear Winter Special"
Writer: Mark Russell
Artist: Mike Norton
Colourist: Hi-Fi
Letterer: Deron Bennett
This wasn't a singular story, but rather a framing device that came back every few stories or so. Rip Hunter is telling the following stories to a bunch of cannibals who want to eat him. I really like Mark Russell and there are some hilarious bits of dialogue peppered throughout this issue that made me heartily chuckle. Mike Norton is a damn treasure and his work here was so fantastic. These two clearly work so well together and I hope to see more of them in the future.
Batman 666 in "Warmth"
Writers: Colin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing
Artist: Giuseppe Camuncoli
Inker: Cam Smith
Colourist: Romulo Fajardo Jr.
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
This was a decent enough story. I've read most of Grant Morrison's run on Batman so I'm semi-familiar with the concept of Batman 666, but I don't know how much of this translates to any actual continuity set up by Morrison. This was a really pretty story. I love Giuseppe Camuncoli and it's always a treat to see some of his art. I do think he needs a more solid colourist than Hi-Fi, but the colouring was serviceable. The story had a nice emotional touch to it that I always appreciate. In terms of post-apocalyptic-ness, this story met the requirements of this collection of stories pretty well. It's sometime after the end of the world, or at least the end of Gotham, and there seems to be some kind of ashen snow surrounding the characters.
Superman One Million in "Memory Hearth"
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artist: Brad Walker
Inker: Andrew Hennessy
Colourist: Nathan Fairbairn
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
I was very excited for read this story, mostly since I'm a big fan of the Superman mythos first introduced to me in ALL-STAR SUPERMAN. I recognised this character, Kal Kent, from that story. I have to say, I was very confused by this. I had no idea what was going on. Martian Manhunter plays a role in this and he's somehow hanging out with a child Clark Kent in our timeline? Maybe this is a reference to another story and I missed the conceit of the narrative. I did like the voice Steve Orlando gave this Kal Kent Superman. There's a cosmic awesomeness about him that Orlando nails. Brad Walker drew the hell out of this, and this just be my favourite thing Walker's ever done. Nathan Fairbairn's amazing colouring goes very well with Walker's pencils and I'm just in awe of this artistic team. I loved this story, the panel progressions and storytelling, and the artwork, despite not understanding what the hell was going on. Kudos to the team for that! This story somewhat fits into the book's overall theme, although I'm not sure that the future Kal Kent comes from counts as a post-apocalyptic world.
The Flash in "Once and Future"
Writer: Jeff Loveness
Artist: Christian Duce
Colourist: Luis Guerrero
Letterer: Tom Napolitano
This was strange. The story just seemed to me to be a story showing how the world veered so close to the apocalypse with the near death of the Justice League, but this is essentially a what-if type of Flash story that didn't seem too plausible to me. It had shades of the original OLD MAN LOGAN, especially when it came to the various DC villains coming together to take down the Justice League. Christian Duce has been doing a lot of Flash work recently so this looks and feel just right. This wasn't a bad read at all. Like the first story there were some emotional beats that really worked for me, although it felt very short.
Aquaman in "Where the Light Cannot Reach"
Writer: Mairghread Scott
Artist: Dexter Soy
Colourist: Veronica Gandini
Letterer: Steve Wands
I liked this one. This story had a degree of bleakness that the previous stories simply didn't. There are blatant references to "when the bombs fell", and there's even a little panel showcasing some city-wide destruction. I like that a lot. The art was gorgeous, as usual when dealing with Dexter Soy and Veronica Gandini. It ends quite awkwardly, with a pretty unfortunate "Not the End" at the bottom of the final page. I'm guessing Mairghread Scott didn't get the memo.
Supergirl in "Last Daughters"
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Yasmin Putri
Breakdowns: Tom Derenick
Letterer: Deron Bennett
This was just brilliant. It used the theme of the book very well and told a compelling, emotional story that had me smiling at the end of it. Yasmin Putri's art was very emotive and Tom Taylor is proving and confounding me yet again. How does this man not have an ongoing at DC right now? He's one of the best writers in comics working today, and yet he's doing one-shot stories all the time. He has been teasing a DC project for a while now so maybe this isn't worth writing about so much, but this story works in every way.
Firestorm in "Last Christmas"
Writer: Paul Dini
Artist: Jerry Ordway
Colourist: Dave McCaig
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
This was another brilliant story. I can't remember the last time I saw Firestorm in any capacity so it was a blast seeing him again. Paul Dini really tapped into the holiday and apocalyptic spirit for this one, and he did a great job contrasting these two tones by providing a relatively creepy but also fun story. Jerry Ordway drew this and he remains as awesome as he ever was. Dave McCaig's colouring really brought this piece to life in a way that Ordway's recent stuff just hasn't looked like.
Kamandi in "Northern Lights"
Writer/Artist: Phil Hester
Inker: Andre Parks
Colourist: Trish Mulvihill
Letterer: Steve Wands
This was a strange story and a bit of a cheat. It's cheating in that every Kamandi story is already a post-apocalyptic story, so Phil Hester has that going for him. Unfortunately I wasn't too hot on this story. I was bored by it but I really admired the artwork by Hester, inker Andre Parks, and colourist Trish Mulvihill. I hate to say that this is my least favourite story of the bunch.
Catwoman in "Nine Lives"
Writer: Cecil Castellucci
Artist: Amancay Nahuelpan
Colourist: Brian Buccellato
Letterer: Josh Reed
In terms of the reality of living in a post-apocalyptic world, this story takes the cake in terms of realism. There are ration problems that Catwoman and Holly Robinson's daughter Sophie have to deal with, and Sophie's infectious goodness gets to Selina. This was a pretty charming story, and the art by Amancay Nahuelpan was pretty stupendous.
Green Arrow in "The Birds of Christmas, Past, Present and Future"
Writer: Dave Wielgosz
Artist: Scott Kolins
Colourist: John Kalisz
Letterer: Tom Napolitano
I really, REALLY liked this story. Nothing about it addressed any post-apocalyptic event other than some superheroes died, but this takes place many years from now so that's bound to happen anyway. There are some fantastic character moments here and Scott Kolins' art was mostly nice. I'm a big fan of Kolins but for whatever reason, he instantly falls apart when drawing Batman. Batman makes a very brief appearance here and it genuinely looks like he let his child have a go at the Caped Crusader.
My favourite story is a tie between the ones I mentioned in the first paragraph: "Memory Hearth" by Steve Orlando, Brad Walker, Nathan Fairbairn, and Clayton Cowles was fantastic. Orlando really nails the wide, beautiful awesomeness of this line of Superman, and the pairing of Brad Walker and Nathan Fairbairn was a dream come true for me. I heard from the grapevine that these two in particular have an upcoming collaboration, so I'm excited to see that. My other pick is "Last Daughters" by Tom Taylor, Yasmin Putri, Tom Derenick, and Deron Bennett. Taylor provides possibly the most hopeful plot of the whole book and I ever so loved it. Fantastic job to everyone!

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