Writers: Brian Posehn and Gerry Duggan
Artist: Rick Remender
Release Date: November 20, 2013
Although it’s been collected before as a paperback, the new hardcover of The Last Christmas, a post-apocalyptic tale of yuletide joy rediscovered, has some new features to delight your misanthropic friends and relatives. Patton Oswalt supplies a profane foreword, and commentary from various creators is a decent bonus. Some of that material, especially the front matter, sets up unrealistic expectations for what follows, hyping the book’s outrageousness in a style calculated to appeal to those who take pride in being unshakable.
What follows are pages filled with an alcoholic, disillusioned Santa Claus who gets his jollies cutting mutants in half. There is also a somewhat heart-warming story about the one child left in the world (remember, post-apocalypse) who still believes in Santa. It’s possible to make these disparate tones work together, but the only person who has succeeded at it is director Terry Zwigoff, and his bittersweet holiday bombshell, Bad Santa, predates the original publishing of The Last Christmas by three years. The lesson a lot of people seem to have taken from that movie is that it’s hilarious to see Santa Claus acting like a rude and horrible person. That’s not inherently the case here, despite the fun in pages featuring big-bellied Kris Kringle surrounded by body parts and empty bottles. There’s a kind of conventionality in the easy and flagrant flouting of legacy; it often comes off as adolescent and considerably closer to the blinkered outlook of the folks it seeks to offend.
Rick Remender and inker Hilary Barta’s work elevates the amusement factor quite a bit. The characters’ bulbous noses, buoyant breasts, wasp waists, and fabulously blob-like giant bellies call to mind artists like Mort Drucker and Jack Davis. The script’s not bad. It has amusing moments, and the central narrative doesn’t feel sloppy; it’s just not very surprising in the way it plays out. Still, the book on the whole provides a good corrective to the Hallmark-ization of the season if you’re feeling beat over the head with Christmas cheer.