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Klaus #2 by Grant Morrison & Dan Mora Review

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<i>Klaus</i> #2 by Grant Morrison & Dan Mora Review

Writer:   Grant Morrison
Artist: Dan Mora
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Release Date: December 16, 2015

There are, if you look hard enough, plenty of origin stories for Santa Claus. Some read like folklore, others read like inception tales crafted for a pop-culture age. Some are strange; films like Rare Exports draw on the idea of a sinister past for Santa Claus, sanitized for modern audiences. And then there’s Klaus, in which postmodern Scottish scribe Grant Morrison charts how a certain toy-delivering man in a red suit fell into his particular line of work. The story so far has revolved around a city, Grimsvig, where a despotic leader confiscates toys for the benefit of his brat son; the arrival of the title character, looking more like an knife-wielding barbarian than the traditional jolly patriarch; and a hallucinatory development in which Klaus slips into a fugue state to create a host of toys.

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The sophomore issue follows from this exposition, as Klaus embarks on a mission to deliver enchanted figurines and models to the homes of local children, bringing delight where there had been none before. He also wages a guerrilla campaign against the local government, although his offensive is laced with more than a little mischief, including acts such as leaving one henchman bound inside a snowman. The overall pacing isn’t always perfect—one minor villain is given a sinister introduction, and then defeated relatively easily—but Morrison’s dialogue and Dan Mora’s art accumulate a good sense of momentum.

Klaus contains some interesting, archaic touches throughout the issue: the references to the annual tradition of “Yuletime,” for instance, and the presence of runes. Mora’s illustrations lean toward the stylized: most of the children are archetypally adorable; one panel of playful kids rejoicing in in the city’s winter landscape achieves a fantastic sense of wonder, while also delivering an overview of their home’s stylized architecture.

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Klaus #2 Interior Art by Dan Mora

The villainous Lord Magnus and his son look as though they could be distant cousins who show up at the Joker’s family reunion. And that’s not the only Bat-similarity; Klaus traverses the city’s landscape with ease, engages in seamless hand-to-hand combat and understands the value of a good symbol in his fight against evil.

Throughout Klaus #2, Morrison hints at larger plots as well—the sense of an even more sinister power behind Lord Magnus’s actions, and a connection in Klaus’s past to other denizens of Grimsvig. Like most everything the writer has done, it’s both aware of the larger story of which it’s a part and seeks to redefine it. Alternately, it’s an origin tale for Santa Claus that posits him as a psychedelic Scandinavian medieval superhero, facing off against a totalitarian government. It’s Batman versus Big Brother a thousand years in the past, with a host of magical toys in tow. What’s not to like?

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Klaus #2 Interior Art by Dan Mora

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