Sunday, 5 January 2014

The Last Christmas Review (Gerry Duggan, Brian Posehn, Rick Remender)

The Last Christmas is one of those lazy books that takes a universal story, like fairy tales, and subverts the popular image, giving a new slant on them where the bad characters tell their side of the story and it turns out the good guys are bad, and so on. This book turns Santa from a jolly old fat man into a wannabe child-murdering drunk. By the way, that’s the only joke in the story and it’s repeated throughout so even if you laughed the first time, it gets less funnier the more its used.

The zombie apocalypse is brought about when mankind blows up the world with nukes and in the aftermath, some Mad Max-esque marauders make it up to the North Pole one Christmas when Santa’s out and about and rape/murder Mrs Claus. Santa returns and loses his mind. He gives up on Christmas, choosing to drink himself into a stupor until he attempts suicide - unsuccessfully. Because despite the decimation of the human population, one young boy still believes in Santa and so long as he lives, so does Santa - so Santa sets off in his sleigh to kill the boy and thereby kill himself. Ho ho…. oh no. Yeah it’s pretty grim.

This forgettable comic from 2006 has been reissued thanks to the popularity of Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn’s work on Marvel’s Deadpool series, and Rick Remender’s rise in the comics world too though as a writer. Trying to make a quick buck - always the best reason to bring stuff back, right? They’ve even got Geof Darrow to draw a new cover for it, like the cover he drew to Duggan/Posehn’s first Deadpool book (to be fair, it is an awesome cover).

Like I said, it’s a one joke book where everything you expect about Christmas and the characters are subverted - Santa’s a drunk who pisses and pukes on himself and wants to die, the elves make guns instead of toys, Frosty the Snowman is a narrator/‘Nam vet character, and so on. The whacky humour isn’t as funny as it is in Deadpool with the writers instead choosing to reference and borrow heavily from pop culture so it reads like every zombie story. The marauders storyline makes no sense, and everything feels extremely derivative and uninteresting. Get past the setup and you’re left with the shallowest of stories: Santa kills zombies with a machine gun.  Yawn.

Remender’s art isn’t bad and it’s cartoony style suits the crazy story well, though his character model for the hot woman is so unrealistic it would make Barbie roll her eyes. I’m sure that choice was deliberate but it only makes the comic that much more cheesy. And his child characters don’t look like kids, at least facially. The kids’ faces look much older so rather than look like kids, they look like little people instead.

The only part I laughed was the letter from Mrs Claus that preceded the comic which outright insults all of the creators on the book, which was probably written by the creators, and, in its vitriol, was much more entertaining. Without visual images to assist, more effort has gone into the writing of the letter than the writing in the comic itself as that writing can rely on visual aids to do half the work.

Otherwise, The Last Christmas is an unfunny story filled with unlikeabe, uninteresting characters on a moronic journey through hell. It goes from bad farce to bad comedy to the schlockiest of zombie and action movie cliches. I’m certain this was a booze/weed-fuelled idea that sounded great when they were out of it but simply isn’t interesting enough to sustain a 150 page book. I like the creative team’s other efforts but The Last Christmas is pretty bad.

The Last Christmas

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