Review: Wraith #4

Question? What happens when you send bad people to a bad place? The answer...Bad Things. But if you have been following Joe Hill's prequel to his best-selling novel NOS4RTU, then you know that Bad Things is pretty much the norm in this twisted tale of a place called Christmasland where children go to live out a life in which every day is Christmas. As for Christmasland's caretaker, a man/monster named Charlie Manx, well he utilizes the life force/souls of the children so that he may live. Pretty creepy stuff I must say. Pretty creepy, but all entertaining is what this tale is. It is the stuff of nightmares, taking the innocence of children and distorting them into something else entirely. You see, while at Christmasland, the kids do not age and they take on a physical form that can be described as "cutesy demonic". That's my word and I am sticking to it.

In the last issue, Charlie Manx assisted in a favor by picking up a group of escaped convicts and two prison guard hostages. He has offered them refuge at Christmasland. Issue #4 begins as the group reaches their destination and meet the children who are permanent residents. Mayhem ensues and those Bad Things mentioned earlier begin to take hold. We also get a flashback tale regarding one Chess Llewellen,  an escaped convict, but not really like the other convicts in the group. His story is one of pain and misery. Mr. Manx is an equal opportunity unleasher of vengeance however as no one is truly safe from his power.

Wraith04_cvrC. P. Wilson III's art has been ghoulish and mischievous throughout. But in depicting the children of Christmasland, he dials it up a notch making for some seriously disturbing images. The images fit the writing of Hill and what we get is a devilishly good combination in a devilishly good story.

Joe Hill continues to script the story as a cat and mouse tale. Earlier, it was Manx and the children. Since Issue #2 however, it has been Manx and the criminals. All of the criminals are hardcore scary guys (minus Llewellen), but Manx's presence dwarves them all. You just don't see much future for these people as long as Manx is in control. And even if looks like he is not in control, you still get the feeling that he is in control.

Joe Hill will always receive recognition for his amazing work on Locke and Key, and deservedly so. I would offer this little mini however as an additional amazing work. The man has skills and like Charlie Manx himself, he is building on some great foundation creating masterful structure.

Score: 4/5

Creator/Writer: Joe Hill Artist: C.P. Wilson III Publisher: IDW Publishing Price: $3.99 Release Date: 2/26/14