War on Christmas


Klaus #1

Revisionist, dark and gritty origins of Santa Claus seem like they’d be a dime a dozen — but when it’s an independent comic written by Grant Morrison, I’m a bit more likely to give it a shot.

The good news is — it’s not that dark and gritty. Yeah, it’s set in a distant past when a half-civilized hunter named Klaus hauls in a load of slaughtered deer to the walled city of Grimsvig. His memories of a happier town are much different from the current situation here — it’s a joyless place, with most of the men slaving away in the mines, guards abusing citizens, and children banned from playing or owning any sort of toy, even improvised ones like rocks. The tyrannical leader, Lord Magnus, exults in his power, while his spoiled son Jonas is the only child allowed to have toys — and he despises all of them.

Klaus, meanwhile, takes offense when a guard beats a child, but he’s quickly outnumbered, beaten, and forced from the city, while the guards stalk him to kill him. He’s saved by his pet wolf, Lilli, but he’s still on the outside of the city, eating a mushroom-stocked broth to heal from his wounds, and wondering how he can make life better for the children in Grimsvig. Can one of Klaus’ psychedelic visions hold the answer?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Really, it’s not dark and gritty, and that means it’s a lot better than I’d feared. Yeah, Klaus kills deer, attacks guards, get furious about injustice — which is really just fine with me. There’s a core of Klaus’ character that feels true to the familiar Santa Claus myths — he loves kids, he doesn’t like people who abuse kids, he’s willing to do hard work with his hands — and there’s toys involved at the end, too. This looks like it’ll be good fun.


Sensation Comics #16

In our first story, Diana visits Gotham City and encounters the mythical monster Echidna, who’s trying to track some kidnappers of children — monster children, actually. Diana offers to help — partly because Echidna is not good at investigation and tends to just kill people she should be interrogating. She ends up meeting Batgirl, Harley Quinn, and Professor Pyg — but is she just getting the runaround? Will she be able to save the children before it’s too late? In our second story, Wonder Woman and Superman hang out and perform a few feats. Wondy officiates over a gay wedding and implies that, if she’s not a lesbian, she’s at least not straight either, which has gotten this issue a certain amount of notoriety.

Verdict: Thumbs down, which is too bad, ’cause I wanted to like this one. It’s got guest stars — it’s actually fun to see Wonder Woman interact with Bat-foes like Harley and Pyg — it’s got excellent fights and action, it works hard to come up with some good character moments. But no, the art is weird, the dialogue is stilted, the character moments are ham-fisted, and I just didn’t get that much joy out of the comic.

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