Review: “Body Doubles – New Year’s Evil” (DC Comics, Jolly Jinglings Special)

Welcome back to 2019’s final installment of The Splintering’s Jolly Jinglings event! Before ringing in 2020, we’re going to pick apart DC Comics‘ Body Doubles: New Year’s Evil.

In the late 90s, DC Comics published an ongoing series titled Resurrection Man, a book featuring a protagonist named Mitch Shelley who, when killed, would come back to life with a new power set designed specifically to confront whatever killed him. It was an interesting concept, though the series would end after 27 issues. Not a bad run, right?

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So who are the Body Doubles? They’re Carmen and Bonny, a sexy pair of assassins who were contracted to hunt Mitch throughout the Resurrection Man series. While their design (particularly the blonde, Bonny) looks to be reminiscent of Harley Quinn’s modern look, Harley wouldn’t make her debut in the mainline DC Comics universe until 1999, so it’s possible that the Body Doubles served as an inspiration for Harley’s later redesigns.

Personality-wise, Bonny and Carmen are different than Harley Quinn. While they’re a whimsical pair, the Body Doubles are not insane in any way. They’re more like “assassin Barbie.” They even use trick cosmetics as weapons and gadgets.

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Harley?

But what is Body Doubles: New Year’s Evil all about? Written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning and featuring illustrations by Joe Phillips, inks by Jasen Rodriuez and colors by Carla Feeny, the book is a 2-page one-shot featuring the villainous vixens as they try to score a $100 million hit put out by the mysterious “Requiem Inc.” The problem? It’s an open contract, and every assassin in town is trying to collect on the same bounty. The result is an underworld gone mad, and assassins from across the DC universe are willing to kill each other to get the competition out of the way.

The Body Doubles themselves come to blows with familiar DC Comics faces including Deadshot and Merlyn, but time and again the Double-D Divas use their combat skills, gadgets, and distractingly feminine assets to escape the other assassins (though they curiously don’t finish them off).

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Watch out, Carmen! That rigid shaft aims to penetrate you!

Despite being over twenty years old, I won’t spoil the ending. The twist finale came with an explosive payoff and was pretty damn funny at the same time. The book itself is very action-heavy, though there is a bit of down time. The tone is very light-hearted throughout, and while some of the jokes and gags wear out their welcome (yes, even in a 22-page book), it all meshes together fairly well.

The art isn’t mind-blowing, but it’s serviceable and well-paced. I expect that Phillips had a lot of fun drawing this book (particularly with the Body Doubles’ costume changes), as that is often evident in the artwork. From the shapely ladies to the wild facial expressions of the characters, Joe Phillips’ illustrations are exaggerated at times, but it matches the cheeky tone of the plot well enough. Some of the gestures go a little wonky in the action sequences, but these moments aren’t terribly distracting.

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Deadshot’s appearance is rather brief

So what exactly does this story have to do with the New Year’s Eve/Day holiday? Not a damn thing. Not that I see, anyway. “New Year’s Evil” was simply a small, villain-focused event released by DC Comics in late 1997/early 1998. Is this particular chapter in the New Year’s Evil collection still worth tracking down over twenty years later? If you find it in your local shop’s discount bin (as I did), then sure. Why not? Otherwise, I wouldn’t suggest going out of your way to find a book set in a dead continuity featuring obscure villains from an equally obscure series. It’s not a bad read – I intend to keep my copy and possibly revisit it in the future – but would I call that a recommend? Eh, barely.

How’s that for a lukewarm New Year, eh?

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