Review - Klaus #1 (@BoomStudios)

"This is the greatest untold story of them all."

The issue is written by Grant Morrison, illustrated by Dan Mora and lettered by Ed Dukeshire.

Set in a dark fantastic past of myth and magic, Klaus tells the story of how Santa Claus really came to be. Where did he begin? What was he like when he was young? And what happens when he faces his greatest challenge? Drawing on Santa Claus’ wilder roots in Viking lore and Siberian shamanism—taking in the creepier side of Christmas, and characters like the sinister Krampus—Klaus is “Santa Claus: Year One.”

Grimsvig is a town in a snowy setting that's beset by somewhat cruel rulers and serves as the perfect setting to introduce readers to Klaus. Morrison opens the issue by introducing the reader to Klaus as a competent trapper and hunter, fighting through the elements to simply ply his wares. After the introduction to the reader though, Morrison lends Klaus a bit of a soft-side, demonstrating a gradual anger at the state of the town that contrasts to his memory of it. Much of the first issue is focused on building Klaus up as a sympathetic character, which Morrison uses as a means for making his transition to the benevolent character of legend more believable. The pacing of the story feels pretty tight as well, as Morrison effectively moves Klaus from a man content to be a hunter to a man who wants to make a change for the better for others.

Mora does a fantastic job of illustrating the harsh, snowy environment Klaus and the citizens of Grimsvig are forced to contend with. It's easy to see how Klaus could manage in that environment, considering he's presented as a burly warrior who can hold his own in combat and survival. Mora depicts Grimsvig through tight, focused panels that accent various buildings throughout the town, but you still get the sense that it's a much more massive than that. There are also subtle nods to Christmas as modern society recognizes it, with the upper echelon of Grimsvig celebrating with a large tree decorated accordingly for the holidays. Towards the end of the issue, there's a really psychedelic two-page spread that serves as a moment of clarity for Klaus that Mora manages through a style akin to that of throwing paint against a canvas and swirling it.

Klaus #1 opens up heavy on the fantasy setting, pitting the main character against the harsh elements of winter and the memories of a different era. It gradually turns into something bigger than that, still leaning on fantasy yet pitching it in a slightly different way. Morrison has laid the groundwork for revealing the origin of Santa Claus as he's known today, relying on Klaus as a character full of confidence and generosity. Mora's artwork is stunning, giving the reader sweeping landscapes with a chill in the air and a hero in Klaus more than capable of surviving. Klaus #1 is a great first issue that takes some liberties with the legend of Santa Claus in a way that works.

Klaus #1 is in stores now.