We have come to a close of Joe Hill and C.P. Wilson III’s creepy little tale of a place called Christmasland, inhabited by the possessed spirits of young children (and maybe more) being directed by one Charlie Manx who I can only describe as a “big nasty”. Manx is devilish to say the least and his slithery features have been such an intricate part of the entire story run to date. As we enter the Epilogue in issue #7 however, we don’t see a whole lot of Charlie. What we do see is the tale of the guy who actually began Charlie’s Christmasland adventure and his personal tale of success, failure, and ultimately, retribution. It, like every single issue in this story is disturbing and dark, but good too. What separates this one from all the others that preceded it is the format. The traditional comic style that has been the staple of the series has been replaced by an old school pulp fiction format with drawings intermittently strewn about the entire piece. It is used to convey the age of the tale that takes place in the first half of the 20th century. And it is done quite well with an aura of authenticity. Even the coloring has a faded kind of look to it with mere splashes of color to go with the emotions of the characters.
The story itself could have been taken from anywhere. It follows a career con artist from his childhood to his adulthood and ebbs and flows with the good, bad, and very bad that occurs in his life. Hill writes the story from the point of view of the con and it is written with a detachedness that feels real. This guy has emotions, but they are small and he seems to blot out those that cause him discomfort. He seems to not care about others with the exception of those closest to him, and that is one that can be debated based on some of his decisions. As things make their full circle and you finally see Charlie appear, you can’t help to think back to issue #1 and Charlie’s own story. You see how this man’s actions affected Charlie and ultimately would affect him as well.
All in all, this is a real nice bookend to the first Issue and to the miniseries as a whole. Hill has shown me through these issues that he can write well and he is more than just Locke and Key. The man has some seriously good stuff brewing in that brain of his that is itching to see daylight. When he lets it out, it is our gain without a doubt.
As for Wilson III, there are images from this series that will give you nightmares. They are subtle… small children… snowmen… a Christmas themed park, but they are sinister. Wilson III knows teeth and his renderings of these subtle creatures with teeth make for some seriously scary stuff.
I know the summer is beginning, but reading the whole of Wraith: Welcome to Christmasland will leave you cold. It is a cold story with cold characters and what I can only describe as very real emotion. It is a powerful morality play that will be etched in my memory for some time.
Writer: Joe Hill Artist: C.P. Wilson III Publisher: IDW Publishing Price: $3.99 Release Date: 6/11/14 Format: Mini-Series, Print/Digital