SPOILER FREE REVIEW
The One Bad Day series of one-shot comics released by DC focuses on The Dark Knight’s villains. Of course, I was excited about these, but even as a fan of the Bat villains, I’ve never really found Mr. Freeze to be intriguing or relatable. Regardless, I was looking forward to this book because I knew Matteo Scalera was doing the art, and I’m a fan of his other work(if you don’t know him, check him out-Black Science).
The One Bad Day books are released one per month, and each is a single book focusing on a single villain. The books look at the “one bad day” that turned the characters into the villains we know or the “one bad day” that pushed them to the next level. It’s a compelling concept and a great way to dive into the heads and tragic stories of these well-known yet still mysterious rogues.
I was pleasantly surprised by what I found in this comic, including many things I’ve never seen in a Batman comic before. Its impressiveness begins with the cover and continues throughout the entire book. The standard cover for this book exemplifies its overall uniqueness as it depicts Mr. Freeze’s reflection on a snow globe he’s holding with Batman and Robin inside of it. The comic goes on to set the falling winter snow against the brooding backdrop of Gotham and perfectly blend two things I love: the holidays and Batman!
The story takes you on an emotional rollercoaster and offers a bit of everything as it jumps between drama, action, and holiday humor. What kept my interest, though, was that the book kept doing new things I wasn’t bored with seeing in a Batman book over and over again. Without spoiling too much, I’ll get into a few of those surprises.
First of all, Robin leads the way. The Boy Wonder takes the lead just like Rudolph in this book and not only is at the forefront of the action, including with Freeze, but he also offers suggestions that Batman takes him up on. This is important to this book because Robin is a child and still has the true spirit and optimism of Christmas flowing through him.
We get to see the backstory and authentic character of the man before he became Freeze and his relationship with his wife, Nora. We’ve known the suit, the voice, and the freeze rays but not much else until now. It also offers multiple sides of the man and a more complex characterization than many characters, especially villains, get. It’s fascinating to peek into a world and story I didn’t know I wanted to see.
We watch Batman and Robin discuss their rogues’ gallery and who they believe is unredeemable. This conversation isn’t overly lengthy, but again it’s something neat I’ve never witnessed. We get to see a “father” and “son” discussing real topics; they just happen to also be masked vigilantes by night.
Finally, there is the holiday extravaganza of it all. Batman Returns may be a Christmas movie, but this is a holiday comic book. We get to see decorations in Wayne Manor, Christmas commentary from Alfred, carolers, Christmas trees, and the dynamic duo of Santa and an elf even make an appearance. This book is an enhancement to anyone looking for or needing Christmas cheer.
There are a few other cool(see what I did there) things of note in this book that should be mentioned. We get easter eggs from a few well-known DC villains, which only add to the story’s scope. We get to see a new specialized Batsuit. Batman’s look is slightly different in this book anyway, so you could say there are two new versions here. Bruce heads out as one of his aliases to do some actual undercover detective work. The detective aspect of Batman gets overlooked far too often, but not here.
Now for the art and my only issues with the book. In this book, Mr. Freeze looks as cool(that’s 2) as ever. The art is beautiful, and his suit looks the way you imagine it would if you saw him in person and got left a little speechless. On the other hand, while I like the cute design of little Robin, he looks a lot like Damien(Batman’s son and more modern Robin). This look accentuates the child beneath the mask at Christmastime, but I had to double-check that it wasn’t Damien. Lastly, Batman’s look is not my favorite, which is disappointing because, as I said, I’m a fan of the artist. He just looks a bit soft and chunky in this book. He comes off as more of a dad than “Vengeance” maybe it’s to set the holiday tone.
Despite not being my new favorite version of Batman, this book is one of my favorite Batman comics. There’s something special about mixing heroes and holidays, but this book embraces it and makes it feel like a family affair. I recommend getting this book and enjoying the cold weather, some hot tea, and a Christmas cookie. I plan to put it aside to pull it out again next year and make reading it a holiday tradition. I give Batman One Bad Day: Mr. Freeze 5 out of 5 icicle lights and recommend it for fans of the holidays, Mr. Freeze, and stories that tug at the heartstrings.