By Mickey Rivera. Mythology and marketing have a lot in common. To be effective, both need to latch onto a stray tentacle of that messy psychological kraken that turns the gears in our brains. They also both need to be exciting in the most emotionally primal ways. Coca-Cola accomplished both when its marketing team absorbed the myth of old Saint Nick through it’s clammy corporate skin, synthesizing existing imagery into an advertising icon of avuncular intensity (Santa, the ultimate happy fat uncle). Similarly, Grant Morrison has sponged up the tawdry myth of Old Saint Coca-Cola through his shimmering outer membranes, desynthesizing it into Klaus, a many-muscled superhero reboot that casts Santa as mystically charged warrior folk hero.
For the uninitiated, Klaus was a 7-issue miniseries put out by BOOM! Studios in 2015. Morrison and artist Dan Mora re-imagined the Santa Claus mythos with more swords, beards, and extraterrestrial spiritual entities. Inspired by all things nordic, Klaus was a fairytale origin story that ended with its titular main character blasting off on a technicolor space-sled, out of his home village to lands and worlds unknown. He went off, it turns out, to binge on action-packed adventures, one of which was detailed in the follow-up 46-page oneshot, Klaus and the Witch of Winter.
Klaus and the Crisis in Xmasville is the second one-shot follow-up to the original, and the best one yet. For 48 pages, Morrison and Mora give you wallop after wallop of action, magic, and eye candy.
The eponymous Xmasville was created by the Pola-Cola Soda Corporation to be a tourist attraction where Christmas is all year round, and where dozens of zombified strangers in Santa costumes roam the streets, waiting for visitors to pass through. The Santas turn out to be mind-controlled by a bloody thirsty, hairy alien spirit, who has been kidnapping children and placing them in imagination-draining machines. After getting a distress signal from a distressed mother about her missing adult children (spoiler: they got Santa’d), Klaus sleds in to town to investigate and brawl with the forces of evil.
The point of all this, I suppose, is to salvage the innocence of a folk hero who’s cultural significance has been co-opted to oblivion by the Christmas-industrial complex. The marketing blitz would have you believe that joy is just a word on your Starbucks cup, that a gift is an obligatory expense, and that your television is the only hearthfire worth crowding around. Crisis in Xmasville throws a jolly red axe in the face of this cynical consumerism, offering its ludicrously imaginative heroics and idealism as a healing salve for our collectively exhausted Christmas spirit. It’s also just plain fun to read, beautifully illustrated and lettered, and comes in your choice of cover flavors including Frank Quitely and John Cassaday.
Klaus is here to remind us of why winter holidays exist in the first place, and surprise, it’s not so we can wake up one morning and voraciously tear open shiny packages filled with consumer products. These winter months have always brought a killing frost and long nights. In place of warmth we throw feasts, in place of light we look to each other… because what else is there to do? It’s too goddamned cold and there’s hungry wolves in the woods waiting to eat our faces off. The spirit of Klaus and his jolly fists keep the dark and hunger away.
Written by Grant Morrison.
Illustrated by Dan Mora.
Lettered by Ed Dukeshire.
9 out of 10
Enjoy this five-page preview of ‘Klaus and the Crisis in Xmasville’ #1, courtesy of BOOM! Studios!