Written by the legendary Grant Morrison and illustrated by Dan Mora, Klaus: The New Adventures of Santa Claus brings together two original Christmas stories. Dan Mora was nominated for a 2017 Eisner award for best penciller/inker for his work on Klaus.
The first adventure collected in this volume, “Witch of Winter,” tells the tale of a buff Santa Klaus, recently freed from decades of captivity on the moon, on a mission to save two children who have been kidnapped by the evil winter witch. Along with kidnapping, the Winter Witch has taken over Klaus’ workshop, turned the elves against him, and coerced the puppet maker, Geppetto, into creating a soulless army ready to do the Winter Witch’s bidding.
The premise is so much fun. The art is amazing; Dan Mora created a winter wonderland ready for battle with surprising pops of colour that bring life to the images. To make the art even more appealing to readers, this Santa bears a striking resemblance to Keanu Reeves.
What fell surprisingly flat for me was the writing. The dialogue in the first half of “Witch of Winter” was stiff and predictable. While reading, I felt like there were gaps in text that made it challenging for me to be taken along on Klaus’ journey. But, as I continued to read, the dialogue got better, and I completely bought into the story.
Amidst varying incarnations of Santas from different times and different parts of the world, what I think other readers will really connect to are the two kidnapped children who are struggling to come to grips with loss and the death of someone close to them. It’s only the second Christmas since the passing of their mother, and Naomi and Ben, along with their father, are still very much feeling that loss. We’ll find that Naomi, who when we first meet her tightly clutches a snowflake pendant that belonged to her mother, is particularly susceptible to the Winter Witch due to this loss.
I was happy to see characters of colour included in the first story. Naomi and Ben, our kidnapped children, along with their father, are black.
The second story included in this volume is “Crisis in Xmasville.” It’s 1985 and Santas, that is, men in Santa suits, have taken over a small town in Delaware. And it isn’t even December.
The goal of these Santas? Space weaponry.
The price? Children.
Klaus is coming to town to make things right, but he’ll need the help of Grandfather Frost and Snowmaiden to save the day once more.
There’s a slightly different feel to the art in this issue, the colours aren’t as saturated and there’s a distinct pencil crayon feel to the panels. The monsters are more terrifying, the fights are bigger and the risks are higher for Klaus. In the first issue, I felt certain that Klaus was going to save the day, but in Xmasville the win isn’t a guarantee and Klaus might just lose companions along the way.
The cast of this issue is, unfortunately lacking in diversity.
The big difference between this story and the first is that Klaus’ adventure this time deals more with big corporations and aliens and less with an individual family. While I’m partial to the first story, both are a lot of fun, involve saving children (some things never change when it comes to Santa), and bring in other winter characters. Despite my rocky start with Klaus, I really enjoyed it. It is perfect for readers looking for an action-packed holiday read and of course, readers who enjoy Keanu Reeves look-alikes. I would keep this in my library’s adult graphic novels collection, but teens will enjoy the title as well. There is a lot of violence throughout Klaus, several characters become gravely injured or die. There are weapons and bloodshed, but nothing overly gory, and the language is clean. Still, I would not recommend it for young children hoping for a Christmas story.
Klaus: The New Adventures of Santa Claus, Vol. 1
By Grant Morrison
Art by Dan Mora
Publisher Age Rating: adult