Published on November 4th, 2015 | by JCDoyle0
Klaus #1 Review
Halloween is over therefore it’s nearly Christmas, right? Boom! Studios and Grant Morrison must think so as issue 1 of their Santa reimaging is out today.
Warning: Spoilers ahead (also, the suggestion that Father Christmas isn’t real)
Klaus is the untold story of Santa Claus and sees him as a rough, wolf owning, barbarian of a man who becomes enraged by a town that has banned fun. He is mistreated by the local constabulary, robbed and ejected from the town, only the surprise attack by his pet wolf saves him from death. Alone, he sits seething in the forest, wondering how to exact revenge and eating a special ‘magic’ soup. That night he has psychedelic visions and wakes to find himself surrounded by tiny little toys.
To be fair, the story up to a certain point (psychedelic dreaming) is entertaining and well-illustrated. Dan Mora does a good job of framing and setting Grant Morrison’s fairly run of the mill, wandering barbarian tale. This is something that could easily have been a Conan story, crazy Christmas obsessed Lords and all, and did not need to be a Santa Claus: Year One style reimaging. There is a trend these days to make things all gritty and grim but is it really necessary to give Father Christmas that kind of treatment? Apparently Grant Morrison thinks so. He surrounds his central character with mindlessly cruel town guards; pointy, hunched, cloak wearing villains; spoilt children; and oblivious mothers. Nothing is particularly new or used in an inspired way.
As I said, so far so ordinary barbarian fair but then comes the 60’s techno-colour dream sequence and be prepared to start laughing at X-File alien like cast offs and what appears to be an explosion in an art studio. There are four pages of absolute ridiculousness and by the end it’s almost impossible to remember what comic you’re reading. A moment ago it was Conan does a Christmas satire and then, all of a sudden, you’re inside Jim Morrison’s head.
And then, along comes the ending which is just as comical. And that’s the problem with this story; it doesn’t really know what it wants to be. At first it tries to be a serious re-imaging of Santa (that’s not an easy thing to write) but then it becomes ludicrous and finishes with a touch of daftness. The art work and script suits the first part of the story, managing to hit most of the clichés of the genre but all balance is lost when the narrative becomes something more at home in a Skottie Young comic.
In his time Morrison has written some outstanding comics but recently, more and more of his work is appealing to a smaller audience. And Klaus kind of reminds me of Morrison’s Happy which seemed to fall into the love it or hate it category of his work. Just like that title, there’s nothing new or outstanding in these pages but it’ll find an audience amongst his fans. The biggest question is, why does it have to be about Santa Claus?
Publisher: Boom! Studios
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Dan Mora