Review: Wraith #5

Christmasland may sound like a great place to go. But after reading (and experiencing) Christmasland during Issue #4 and now #5, I must say that it might not be the best place to visit. That is unless you really dig on the disturbing and evil tones that permeate everything in this (Dark) Magic Kingdom. You will feel right at home if that's the case. As for a story, Wraith: Welcome to Christmasland is a creepy prequel to Joe Hill's bestselling novel NOS4RTU.  And as far as chills and thrills go, it delivers. It is cold, it is unpleasant. It is disturbing. Oh yeah, it is pretty damn cool too. A guilty pleasure to indulged in and enjoyed.

Wraith05_cvrSUBIssue #5 has our band of escaped convicts (and remaining wounded prison guard) trapped and at the mercy of Christmasland and it's inhabitants. The inhabitants are devilishly delightful demonic deviant youths of whom Mr. Charles Manx is their caretaker and soul essence sucker. They seem happy there though. But I'm not quite sure what happy is exactly as they all have super sharp teeth, evil eyes, and a penchant for games of torture and pain. Manx had picked up the escapees after being contacted by one of them who he apparently shared a past with as well as some of the youthful inhabitants.

Reading this issue may just be the only time you actually feel bad for the bad guys, as they are trapped like helpless flies to the spider of Manx and his kids. Well most of them are pretty bad and probably deserve whatever they get. But there is one prisoner named Luellyn and the prison guard that you really begin to bond with during this issue. Hill writes out a dialogue between the two that let's you know these are the closest things to innocents that now reside in this playground for the twisted.

C. P. Wilson III's art is quite disturbing. He does an amazing job in everything regarding Christmasland and these images will stay in your head (and nightmares) for sometime to come. I never realized people smiling could look so sinister. As for Hill, he has spent a lot of time writing on Charlie Manx and his depiction is one of confidence. Manx has all the answers. All the others are just out there, fodder left out to be destroyed when he is ready to destroy them, and not a moment more. We are sitting in the front seat to see. What he has planned next is anyone's guess. But based on the surprise ending that occurs here, I am 100 percent certain that it is going to be pretty nasty. Escapees beware.

Score: 4/5

Writer: Joe Hill Artist: C.P. Wilson III Publisher: IDW Publishing Price: $3.99 Release Date: 3/26/14