Sunday, 25 December 2016

Klaus and the Witch of Winter #1 Review (Grant Morrison, Dan Mora)

Grant Morrison and Dan Mora return to their Batman-esque Santa character, Klaus, for a festive one-shot in Klaus and the Witch of Winter. And who can blame them, eh? ‘tis the season (to make some cheddah)!

The Witch of Winter has swiped a pair of kids – Klaus and Lilli to the rescue! 

I really, really loved this one – everything about it in fact. It’s set a while after the first book – we’re in the present day rather than the days of castles - and Morrison lets us know Klaus has been having further adventures, possibly setting up future books to explore them in more detail (yes, do it!). 

The story is a suitably enchanting mix of fairy tales from Carlo Collodi (Geppetto appears) to CS Lewis (the Ice Queen freezing the young girl’s heart) that fits well into Klaus’ fantasy world. But tragedy is at its core: the children recently lost their mother and this is their first Christmas without her. 

The coldness gripping the older girl is symbolic of fear and sadness; it freezes her pain so she doesn’t feel it but it doesn’t help her deal with it either (much like Geppetto’s appearance is tenuously frozen to look far younger than his age). Ice is stasis, fire is change. The heat Klaus brings represents that change through love, the warmth of humanity healing the wounds of loss through melting the barriers of grief. 

There’s no more classic a Christmas theme than one of family and togetherness; finding warmth in the cold, being with the ones you love and remembering those who are gone – a perfect choice by Morrison, moving and beautiful. Even the fate of the Witch of Winter is inspired with Klaus offering up redemption and renewal in the face of defeat. 

Global warming is brought up as a pressing issue but, in keeping with the tone of the comic, Klaus espouses optimism in dealing with this real problem, that positivity will overcome negativity every time and that we will meet this challenge together with courage and imagination. This dude really is one of the most likeable characters Morrison’s ever created! 

Why did I mention Batman at the top of the review? Besides Klaus looking and behaving like an Elseworlds Bruce Wayne, he has a Batcave-esque Hall of Memorabilia filled with old Santa costumes and a giant dinosaur skeleton, just like Batman’s outfits and robot T-Rex – there’s a further visual wink to the Dark Knight with an actual Robin bird in one of the cases! I think Morrison can’t get away from slipping a little bit of Batman into his work after writing the character for so many years, nor do I think he wants to either. 

Dan Mora’s art is excellent – Klaus’ sled looks as awesome as ever, as does the Witch of Winter’s design and Spoonlicker’s shoe car, though really every page looks superb. Along with the Batman references, I liked the nod to Superman in the panel where Klaus breaks free of his chains. Mora continues to showcase his impressive artistic abilities – I look forward to seeing what projects he works on in the coming year. 

Grant Morrison and Dan Mora close out 2016 with some guileless, spectacular holiday reading - Klaus and the Witch of Winter is Christmas magic distilled into a comic. Most of all, I love that this is a comic with heart. There aren’t enough of those. 

Merry Christmas, all – gawd blessus, every one!

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