Sunday, 8 November 2015

The Wraith: Welcome to Christmasland Review (Joe Hill, Charles Wilson III)


I didn’t know it when I picked it up but apparently The Wraith: Welcome to Christmasland is a sequel/prequel (as in it was published after but the story is set before) to Joe Hill’s prose novel NOS4A2. Like Nosferatu, geddit? Sheesh, what uninspired “cryptic” wordplay. Well, like father, like son, eh Redrum? 

So I haven’t read NOS4A2 which is why I was quite a bit confused with this book - unless people who have read that novel also found this confusing in which case it was just a mess! Charlie Manx (like Charlie Manson - real imaginative, King Jr!) is a pale, monstrous looking driver of a Rolls-Royce Wraith. He picks up some jailers and their prisoners, takes them to Christmasland for some reason, and then just sort of lets the weird vampiric kids play with them. That’s all, folks!

There is a needlessly unpleasant origin story (again, like King Snr!) for Manx, which also reveals him to be a complete moron you couldn’t possibly respect, but it’s unclear just how he came to look so monstrous. He seems to have just been born demonic-looking which is very convenient. Quite how Christmasland came to be is also unclear as is the supernatural Wraith. And the kids as well. Things just happen in this book! 

What are Manx/the Wraith/Christmasland/the kids’ motives? Why did Manx take the prisoners/jailers to Christmasland in the first place? No idea. Maybe all that’s explained in NOS4A2 even though The Wraith is supposedly a prequel, but the plot is decidedly lacking here. 

The artist Charles Wilson III  does some good work even if some of the character designs are derivative. The kids are wearing My Chemical Romance’s Black Parade era gear for no reason and Manx looks a bit like Sam Lesser from Locke & Key in some panels. 

Christmasland is so superficially “horror” too. Sad teddy bears, building blocks that spell “DIE”, reindeer with glowing eyes - it’s so corny! It’s lazy creativity that isn’t scary but incredibly bland and stupid. There’s also the least convincing romance ever when the “good” 30/40-something prisoner and the 60+ year old jailer (whose surname is of course Claiborne because we gotta keep referencing Daddy’s more popular books!) fall in love - my eyes nearly rolled out of my head for that one! 

If it weren’t for some of Wilson’s art and Jay Fotos’ colours, The Wraith would be a total bust. As it is, it’s just a crap comic, ineptly written and plotted and thoroughly uninteresting. Joe Hill does it again!

The Wraith: Welcome to Christmasland

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