‘Klaus and the Witch of Winter:’ Comic Book Review

That was a lot.

I loved the Klaus series from Morrison and Mora that BOOM! Studios released over this year.  I thought that the various traditions brought together with a bit of a more kick-ass St. Nick was a fun riff on the mythos of the season, and the final showdown with their version of Krampus was stupendous.  So, when I heard about this one-shot of extra goodness, I was pretty stoked, but much like Abe Lincoln’s first trial, this was one shot too many.  The trouble was the breadth of the story that they tried to tell in such a short space. The run permitted a lot of time, and the pacing was stellar.  You needed the calm moments to fill in story, to humanize characters, and most importantly to allow for the faster paced moments have a place to go, not just running at 11 the whole time.  Perhaps another 10 pages could have opened this one up and allowed for the more dynamic storytelling that defined the series so well, but as it stands, it’s just too much crammed into a tiny space.

There’s never a doubt that Grant Morrison will always bring interesting characters and a wildly imaginative plot to the fore, but the more elements you add, the more difficult it is to flesh things out properly.  The series let us see Klaus as a man, while this issue is so jam-packed full of references and mini-arcs that it’s hard to see any characters as true standouts.  The story takes place in the present day, and from the minute Klaus hits the page, we’re off to the races, backfilling what has gone on with him in the last millennium or so. Filled with references that made no sense to me (Perhaps he was reaching for more esoteric Santa tales from B movies or some such?  Anyone have any insight on this one?), it felt like an episode of Family Guy where they’d refuse to go to the cutaways.  There’s a certain well-known woodcarver who appears on the side of good, and it’s a fantastic bit of lore to draw into this world that also fuels the plot in a nice way.  The trouble is that there’s a lot of lore that’s brought into the world, and I never felt that there was enough time for half of them, which made it seem less fantastic and more like “wouldn’t it be cool if this happened?”  I wish they had been given three or four issues to tell this one, as I think the space could have only helped.  I love the feel of Klaus and who he has become when you have a chance to get into him, but I really wish we had the chance to get more of him.

Dan Mora still rocks it out for this issue and right from the get-go stops you in your tracks with a great panel where he drew some incredible snowflakes.  Seriously, it’s a gorgeous panel, and I love it.  I did feel the same rush on the artwork as I had with the story. The pacing throughout seemed rushed, without the gentle gradient that he had put on display in the series.  Even the finale with Krampus felt more impending and deliberate to any of the action with this issue that feels more like Schwarzenegger is going to drop out of a chopper at any moment.  Honestly, with all of the Deus ex Characters popping up, that very scenario wouldn’t have surprised me at all.  The character designs, however, are stupendous, and the world looks every bit as perfect as Grimsvig did. Mora has such a unique touch on expression and intent that he evokes from everyone on the page that it’s easy to get wrapped into things very easily.

Added to all of this story is a metaphor to Climate Change which feels just shy of being heavy handed that they then double down on by stating everything they had been implying.  Perhaps this is the result of frustration with the fact that science is being debated as though it were based on opinion, but it stopped the story dead for me.  I don’t mean to be so harsh on this issue, but the Klaus series had been such a good, dynamic tale that this seemed almost to be from a wholly different set of creators.  Or perhaps editing pressures condensing the story.  Not really sure what the reason is, but I really wish that I could have read a much less condensed version of this one.  It’s a great and fun story, but it feels like an abridged one.

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