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Sidelines: 13: Klaus Issue #1 Review

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To say that Grant Morrison is an eccentric writer is an understatement. The man is a ball of crazy that has a greater imagination than I can ever fathom. However, that doesn’t make him a bad writer. In fact, today’s comic “Klaus #1” from Boom Comics is a good example of him at his best. The comic is based on various legends about Santa Claus and brought together to create a singular fantasy story starring the man in red when he was a young man. A Santa Claus: Year One as it were. Is it good? Let’s find out.

Plot Summary:

The story begins with a man in a red cloak pulling a sled of furs and meat approaching a small town. The guards are suspicious of him, but let him into the town. He goes to a tavern, asking where the men are. The barkeep states that they are all in the mines. The hunter asks where the old proprietor is and the barkeep states that he was killed for “Asking too many questions”. And on cue, the guards come in to harass the hunter.

They ask him questions that he has no answers to, including wolves having been heard as he approached the town and they confiscate his sled. They also bully a kid with a stone by claiming that he has a toy which are forbidden in Grimsvig (And are meant only for Lord Jonas) and the hunter comes to his defense. He continues to ask questions, but agrees to leave town. However, when one of the guards strikes the kid, he immediately fights back, but is overpowered.

The man’s hands are bound and he is sent out of the city to be hunted, much to the chagrin of the town Sergeant Linkvist. However, the new leader, Lord Magnus silences his complaints and gives the “I’m the villain” grin. He says that it’s Yuletime and the guards should have their brutal fun.

The hunter makes it to cover and tries to cut his bonds, but is caught. However, with a whistle his pet wolf Lilli comes to his rescue and presumably chases off the guards.

We are then introduced to Lord Magnus’ bratty son, Jonas, who smashes a model of the town that was made special for him, and it is clear that the toys have not satisfied him in the least. We also meet Magnus’ smoking hot wife who appears to be quite detached from the goings on and offers a token Yuletime toast.

At the same time, the hunter and Lilli have their dinner. The hunter laments the fact that the children have had their Yuletime cancelled and are miserable. He decides not to dwell on it as it is really none of his business and plays a tune. However, forest spirits come to him and send him into an ultra trippy vision where he wanders into the forest and begins carving. He wakes up the next morning with a sackful of toys next to him, leaving him puzzled as to what he did last night and what he is supposed to do now.

Writing:

Now Grant Morrison is probably the most eccentric comic writer in the industry. He is a surreal writer with a lot of crazy ideas and “Klaus” seems to be the least crazy comic he’s ever written. While it has its lapses, like the guards suddenly skedaddling away off panel, it’s a pretty solid comic.

Klaus as a character is an interesting take on the myth of Santa Claus. He’s shown as a man who is resourceful, strong, yet he has a good heart and will step in to defend children from bullies. I liked the ending and how he is on the beginning of his journey to distribute toys and happiness to all children everywhere.
Lord Magnus, for now, doesn’t have much to him as a villain. He’s basic and wants control of the town, but why? Not explained now, but hopefully we get more to his motivations. His son is the basic spoiled brat with not much to him. His wife, Lady Magnus, however, is someone I’m interested in and hopefully we learn more about her. I found one small detail of their relationship interesting. When Magnus gets to the dinner table, he tussles her hair like a pet, which shows that their marriage is not based on love. Hopefully she gets more development.

As for the story, it’s an interesting set up. Klaus wants to free this town and it seems he’s going to do that with toys to bring Yuletime happiness to the children and the people of Grimsvig. I was a bit confused about the spirits near the end, but I can bet those will be explained. It has a good cliffhanger with the sack of toys being discovered at the end and I am interested to know where this story is going.

Art:

The art by Dan Mora more than makes up for any shortcomings the story may have. The backgrounds are beautifully rendered with environments that truly reflect the season of winter. While the color tone is a bit bleak at times, reflective of the mood the story is conveying, but when it shines through it shines through for the best.

I think the snow is what I like best. It feels like snow instead of white streaks that the artist drew. Each flake has a different place on the page and is as random as real snow. However, what I like best about it is how it alights on the characters. The best example is from the beginning when Klaus is approaching Grimsvig and you can see the snow having stuck to his hood, his fur cloak, his clothes and, my personal favorite addition, his beard. I love that detail. Snow doesn’t just fall around objects and people. It sticks to them or melts away. And it adds a detail that I will get into in the character designs.

As for the character designs, I like them. The only two that I will get into are Lord Magnus and Klaus. Lord Magnus has a very basic yet almost comical villain design. He’s lean and his face is sunken and pointy. It screams “I AM THE VILLAIN” and for a Christmas villain? Yeah. It works.

As in antithesis to Magnus, Klaus is built as your typical Fantasy hero. While that may seem like it doesn’t work for Santa Claus, I like it. It shows the man he used to be before he gave into the temptation of pies and cookies, a burly hunter with a wolf and a kind heart. As stated before, I liked that the snow stuck to his black beard, coloring it white in places, foreshadowing his future as the giver of gifts to children. Another detail that I really found myself liking were his eyes. I liked how they were brownish-orange, like an animal’s. It shows that he is a man of focus and determination. One that follows through on his goals no matter what. Very much the design of a man who would become Santa Claus

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The cover for the first issue, is not something that evokes Santa Claus: Year One to me. It’s basically him with a wolf and an animal carcass. While his beard has flecks of white, it still doesn’t work for me. Issue 2’s cover, however, is very much what I would think Fantasy Santa would look like. He is on a rooftop, with a giant sword, and a sack slung over his shoulder while two guards are below him. That is Fantasy Santa to me.

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Overall, the art is very good and is one of the best selling factors of this comic. I like the character designs and the background art is very much in the season of Christmas or Yuletime. If the writing falls short for you, then the art will more than make up for it.

Final Thoughts:

I plan to continue reading this miniseries. It is very much what I would like to read of a Fantasy Christmas Comic story. I like the writing and the art is fantastic. I like the design and character of Young Klaus and while the other characters aren’t as developed in this issue, I look forward to seeing where they will go in the future. Read this comic. It is something that I think everyone can enjoy on Christmas or any other Holiday. And now, in conclusion, I say to you: Merry Christmas. And a Happy New Year.