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Where oh where do I begin to start a review of what has now become my favorite holiday special of all time?  When Geoff Johns first announced that he was doing a Larfleeze Christmas Special the expectations began forming in my head and this exceeded them by far!  This issue has it all from the humor you know you’re going to get with Larfleeze, but there’s just so much fun and a touching moment that really makes it a well rounded issue – and there’s interactivity and creativity that makes this something that I’m going to go out and pick up a couple of extra copies of just so I can have spares.

The Story –
It’s Christmas morning in Fort Branch, Minnesota where Larfleeze has made his home amongst all the junk he’s stolen collected since arriving on Earth.  Larfleeze and his trusty companion awaken at around 5:30am in anticipation of spending the day unwrapping all the gifts on his list that Santa surely must have left under the tree.  But alas there are no presents to be found despite Larfleeze having left the customary cookies and milk for Santa and Larfleeze is certain that someone stole all the presents while he was asleep until he discovers that the cookies he left for the “red suited giant” have been left untouched by Santa’s hands.

We are all given the gift of a recipe for Larfleeze’s Orange Lantern cookies which my family and I will making on Christmas Eve.  Enraged the Orange Lantern responds to seeing Santa Claus on television by flying to the site of the live telecast on an orange sleigh powered by several orange reindeer.  Santa is taken hostage and when his beard flies off Larfleeze realizes that the man is but a decoy for the real Santa.  The real Santa walks into a nearby store and Larfleeze charges off in hot pursuit.

Larfleeze Cookies – a new holiday tradition!

The scene he discovers pushes Larfleeze over the edge.  Surrounded by a dozen or so men in Santa costumes Larfleeze threatens to kill the men if they don’t reveal which one of them is the one, true Claus.  A young boy tells Larfleeze that he needs to head north to find Santa where he lives, and off the Orange Lantern goes to the North Pole.  The next page is a fun little maze in the shape of the Orange Lantern symbol that readers can solve to help Larfleeze and Glomulus find the North Pole.

Arriving in the arctic wilderness Larfleeze is enraged by his inability to find Santa’s home and he threatens to melt the pole if that’s what it takes.  Just then Hal Jordan arrives and talks Larfleeze off the ledge and tries to explain that Santa isn’t real and tells him about getting the true spirit of Christmas.  The bait succeeds and Larfleeze becomes obsessed with learning how he can acquire Christmas spirit.

The next page features a Christmas ornament that readers can cut out and glue  to assemble – another fun feature that makes this issue special.  Back in Minnesota Hal shows Larfleeze that the stuff he’s collected can be used as gifts for people who really need a helping hand and off they go to deliver the bounty of Larfleeze’s exploits.  Returning to his now nearly empty home and being told by Hal that Larfleeze now possesses the spirit of the holidays because he has given so much to so many, Larfleeze comes to the conclusion that he doesn’t like being on the giving end of the holiday all that much.

I think Hal would rather have to tackle Nekron right about now

Hal gives Larfleeze a gift of clarity when he suggests that Larfleeze re-examine his list and ask himself if he really needs the things that are on it.  The issue’s first story ends with Larfleeze pausing on one item in particular, a look of longing and pain in his eyes as he stares at the words “My Family” that he had written on his Christmas list.  We are left feeling sorry for the furry guy while he falls asleep in front of the fire and I can’t help but think that this plot thread, somewhat continued from Larfleeze’s run in with Adara in Green Lantern #58 will move forward in the coming months.

I’m sending Sinestro a box of butterscotch candy for Christmas!

The next two pages are a treat all their own, given to us by Art Baltazar and Franco Aureliani, the creative team behind the Eisner winning “Tiny Titans” book.  The story is a cute trip by Glomulus as he collect things to give Larfleeze.  His journey takes him to visits with Sinestro, the Blue Lanterns, Zamaron and the home world of the Indigo Tribe, each with funny little bits that remind us why the “Tiny Titans” title is so much fun.  And Sinestro hates butterscotch……who knew!?

With that the issue ends with a Green Lantern holiday themed pinup.

The Writing –
You have to expect that any holiday special is going to be lighter fare than a regular monthly title.  But Geoff Johns manages to not only stick to the tried and true Christmas story formula of character X learning about true meaning of the season, he manages to pull it off while simultaneously giving us a story that connects back to the bigger Green Lantern universe and the development of Larfleeze as one of the most endearing original characters since he began his association with the franchise.  It would easy to make Larfleeze a one trick pony of comedy relief, but there’s more to the character than that and at the end of the day we can all empathize with the guy.  I’m not sure if Johns came up with the ideas of incorporating the recipe, ornament or maze to the story, but either way they are fun ways to add an interactive layer to the special that make it fun.  I know I kind of felt like a kid again after finishing the book – a valuable gift in itself.

The Art –
I’m not real familiar with Brett Booth’s work, but he does a great job with this book and I really liked what he did in terms of maintaining the tone of the story and balancing out the humor without going over the top.

What Do I Think?
I think this book is a must have this holiday season and I’d encourage everyone to pick up a copy, make some Orange Lantern cookies and share them and this book with your loved ones.  Sure it’s light-hearted and fun….and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.  The only thing that would have been better would have been if DC wasn’t charging $3.99 for it.

Ten out of ten lanterns.

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