Angry Birds: Holiday Special 2014 – Review

Hoping to finally  pop the membrane between video games and comic books, the folks at IDW take another stab at an Angry Birds title this week (and just in time for the Holiday Season). And hey, it ain’t too bad.

Here’s the official word from IDW:

When Terence, the largest of the Angry Birds, is put in charge of the North Pole all his dreams come true. But, being in charge of delivering packages to every good little girl and boy in the world turns out to be a more difficult job than he could have imagined and his dreams quickly turn to nightmares! Will the rest of the Angry Birds be able to come in time to save the day? And where is Santa Claus anyway? Find out in this over-sized holiday special!

Unlike IDW’s last attempts to bring this video game title to the page, the Holiday issue is not a series of mini-AngryBirds-Holiday-pr-1-bee7astories but rather a sustained arc featuring Terence, a giant bird trying to fulfill his fantasies of being Santa Claus. Anyone who’s read IDW’s earlier attempts will find this to be a welcomed change — at its worst the old method felt like reading a series of Bazooka Joe comics; it was all fluff and silly gags. Here, at least, the writer Kari Korhonen is trying her best to develop a real world, with real arc and gravity. But before we get too deep, yes, let’s acknowledge what this really is — it’s still a comic book about a video game, which means Korhonen is still tethered to some pretty dumb ass narrative devices that don’t really fit when trying to expand these characters into a real story (randomly exploding birds, mean pigs and giant slingshots are just a few).

That said, Korhonen does a pretty good job of working with what she’s got. The story is sweet, goofy, and carries a very solid Holiday message of “be yourself” and “work together” — not bad for a kid’s comic. Korhonen’s good attempts highlight the fundamental difficulties of bringing this franchise to comics, however — there’s simply not much there, there. Unlike other video games where narrative is front and center, Angry Birds is just about knocking stuff down. Doing that for 48 pages can be tricky, and so kudos to Korhonen for trying to evolve past that and creating a tale that uses leverages characters over plot.

The art, by Corrado Mastantuono, is perfectly vibrant and appropriately silly. Part of the story has the birds leaving their small island and venturing out into the “real word” and Mastantuono’s cityscapes are a treat to behold. Bright colors and exaggerated expressions make his work perfect for this title.

Overall, the Angry Birds Holiday Special will delight younger fans — even if it missed the mark with older ones.

+ Decent Story - Although Tethered to Narrow Franchise

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