It’s the happiest time of the year: Santa and his elves are in high gear preparing to bring joy to children all around the world, when an old enemy makes a surprise appearance. Now it’s a battle to the undeath as Dracula and his army of Twilight fan minions and classic monsters attack Santa and his jolly elves. But Santa has a few tricks up his sleeve—not to mention the recalled toys under his belt—and the outcome of this battle won’t be a sure thing for anyone.
It’s impossible not to draw comparisons to the Dreamworks film Rise of the Guardians, which featured holiday figures fighting back against the Bogeyman to protect the dreams of children everywhere. In this snarky, gory, pop culture-infused riff, Santa and his army must battle Dracula to prevent him from gaining the power to enter homes all over the world without permission. The elves release their inner Tolkien; the second Mrs. Claus—whom Santa met on a reality tv show after his first wife ran off with the Bogeyman—proves she’s not just a pretty face; and Frankenstein’s monster squares off against Frosty the Snowman.
Dejesus’ art has a slick, digital look with easily recognizable characters: a traditional plump Santa with rosy cheeks and a dramatic-looking Dracula, who is followed by his “brides” and bevies of pulchritudinous teen Twilight fans. There are a host of other characters, including a Christmas angel and a wolf-man who bears a surprising resemblance to Harry, the werewolf in Jill Thompson’s Scary Godmother. There isn’t much detail in the characters and setting, nor is there much emotional nuance or character development, but most of the characters die so quickly that there isn’t time to expand on them.
Santa versus Dracula isn’t quite a gorefest, but there’s plenty of blood and violence, usually inflicted with glee and silly references to pop culture; the Easter Bunny is beaten to a pulp early in the story and lots of vampires are bloodily dispatched. In fact, by the end of the story, there aren’t many characters left standing. There are no overt sexual references, but one wonders what Dracula is doing with all those scantily dressed vampire fans and there is commentary on Santa’s divorce and remarriage. Teens will probably find the humor and pop culture references hilarious. However, there are odd jumps in the story where the author tries to include moral asides about the characters protecting children a la Rise of the Guardians, and the longest speech in this vein comes from an alcoholic reindeer. Vague religious references to Santa, the Christmas angel Gloria, and the celebration of Jesus’ birth strike jarring notes in what is otherwise a light and silly take on various creatures of legend.
Publisher SLG isn’t distributed by Baker and Taylor, so most libraries won’t have access to this volume unless they use a different vendor or purchase graphic novels from Amazon. It’s a fun read, but not a necessary addition to a library collection.