Grant Morrison is currently running a miniseries called 'Nameless', an anti-human horror story about astronauts opening an asteroid prison, literally releasing Judeo-Christian God to destroy the world. It is extremely difficult to follow. However, by far the most bewildering comic of Grant Morrison's I've read this year is 'Klaus'. Hadn't heard of this title previous and was more than a little surprised to see it was a new Morrison joint. Furthermore, I was surprised to find it was a Morrison joint on the origin of Santa Claus, where he's a medieval trapper with a pet wolf.
Pause for a moment.
Now brace for the really weird part: it's incredibly straight forward. It's actually amazing that this wasn't written by anyone other than Grant Morrison. It sort of plays out like one of those terrible movies like 'Pan' or 'Dracula Untold' where a very straightforward story with nothing to do with the source material is decorated into an origin story with references and motifs. Here we have evil dictators, Santa getting shot in the shoulder with an arrow, wolf action, and floating blue ghosts summoned by music that look like Grey aliens. Okay, the last part actually sounds like a Grant Morrison book, but contextually everything else is just shockingly uncharacteristic.
Further troubles arise from the art. It's not bad art. It's the wrong art. You'll notice early on that Morrison is pointedly trying to write this story like a fairy tale; very broad, sometimes laughably so. The reason my reaction was to laugh however was because illustrator Dan Mora puts a great performance into the book, but draws everything like a very high end fantasy actioner. This art would look fantastic on a Dungeons and Dragons title or a Conan book, but when you get lines like: “A stone's not a toy.”
“In the hands of a child, anything can become a toy!”
...it provokes actual laughter. Again, nothing at all against Mora, he has some genuinely gorgeous panels, especially his rich frigid landscapes, but it unfortunately just highlights what a strange, unnecessary story is being told with it.
The weird part isn't that someone is telling an origin story with Santa as a well-meaning action hero destined to be everyone's favorite wintertime home invasion specialist, it's that Grant Morrison apparently thought that it was a good idea. Besides one enjoyably trippy sequence near the end, nothing suggests his hand, making this comically bad idea into a game of figuring out what is going through his head writing it. Is it a down payment on a new car, pulled out of BOOM! because they are just happy to have someone of Morrison's caliber doing an original title for them? Will this book, in its six predetermined issues, spiral into madness as Morrison starts deconstructing Jungian architypes and writing treatises on childhood imagination? What is this?
I guess, for starters, one issue in, the answer is simply: not very good.
Klaus #1 Writer: Grant Morrison Artist: Dan Mora Publisher: BOOM! Studios Price: $3.99 Release Date: 11/4/15 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital