Comics weirdo writes a story about Santa Claus? Yes please! That was my first thought when I saw this book and I was not disappointed. A fantasy that almost mirrors the plot of any Hallmark Christmas movie this story takes things to satisfyingly strange places. Morrison borrows from Conan and Game of Thrones to tell the story of a town where “Yuletime” is outlawed and the barbarian toymaker whose divine mission is to bring happiness to kids– the revolution he foments is just a happy side effect.
The story that came to mind while I was reading this one is Walt Kelly’s retelling of the Pied Piper of Hamlin– “The Town on the Edge of the End.” An isolated place where anger and paranoia claim to protect people while conjuring demons, inner and outer. Inspired by either drugs, extra-dimensional entities, or Philip K. Dick style temporal lobe seizures [it’s the middle one], Klaus comes to save the children from the authoritarian forces that forbid laughter, dancing and toys. And when a Krampus-like demon arrives to claim the “naughty children,” it’s a Christ-like Klaus who thunders “THERE ARE NO BAD CHILDREN!”
So there’s a hero here. A good one. However, in typical Morrisonian fashion, people can’t just sit back and wait for a champion to save them. Heroism is required on all fronts– men, women, and children– to banish the darkness and create a better kingdom. Good men who have been silent find their tongues, oppressed workers rise up against their oppressors, clever children battle to survive.
Is this a political story? Absolutely, but only because all authoritarians look and talk alike. Grant Morrison wears many faces, but my favorite is the face he show as an avatar of freedom. He wears it well; his characters wear it well.
And I appreciate his clever ju-jitsu here. Who among us can be against Santa Claus? Against Christmas?
Grant Morrison’s at his best when he’s positive and conherent, pointing out the basic stupidity of evil and urging readers to partake in a better world. This sorta-kinda Christmas story is a good stand-alone example of what I consider Morrison’s finest qualities.
Rating: An “A and minus” book.