Deadshirt Is Reading… is a weekly feature in which Deadshirt’s staff, contributing writers, and friends-of-the-site offer their thoughts on Big Two cape titles, creator-owned books, webcomics and more.
David Uzumeri is reading…
Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Dan Mora
Lettered by Ed Dukeshire
“This man, this ‘Santa’—the bars of his cage are closing around him.”
A really interesting thing about Morrison’s Klaus is that—more than Max Landis’s much-self-vaunted Superman: American Alien—it actually is a sort of anti-All-Star Superman, despite being very similar in approach tonally. Let me explain.
All-Star Superman was Morrison, Frank Quitely, and Jamie Grant extrapolating out from the existing Superman mythos, including his origin, to imagine a poetic and appropriate end for the character. It’s intended to be the Last Superman Story, and it succeeds excellently at that: it provides thematic closure to the Superman myth, much as The Dark Knight Returns provided thematic closure to the Batman myth.
What’s interesting about the Santa myth, though—as universal and commercial as it is—is that there is no beginning, which makes what Morrison’s attempting here maybe his most ambitious attempt at mythmaking and worldbuilding in his career. He’s engineering an origin story for Santa Claus (that big jolly motherfucker with the sleigh and reindeer from the Coca-Cola commercials, that one) from the various pop culture ephemera that have accumulated like symbiotic barnacles around the commercial image of a bearded old dude throwing toys down chimneys.
So we get an origin story, with a dashing protagonist with a mysterious past who calls on elves to help him make toys, fighting the powers that be in a narrative crucible called Grimsvig through which the ingredients of the Santa myth are all in play: chimneys, coal, cheer, toys, Mrs. Claus herself, and a dark force from which to protect the world. Now that we’re about halfway through the series (the cover of this issue announced it’s been extended to seven issues), we’re beginning to get a wide enough vantage point to be able to watch the puzzle pieces come together into the Santa Claus we all know.
The only reason I didn’t mention Mora’s incredible art here is because my assessment of it hasn’t really changed from the first issue: he’s one of Morrison’s best new collaborators in years, and I hope they work together for a long time after this project. Much like Frazer Irving and Chris Burnham are perfect collaborators for certain sides of Morrison’s writing personality, Mora does a fantastic job of combining the fairy-tale whimsicality of the premise with the kineticism of an action tale. And his snow looks beautiful.
We’re 42.86% through the story, so it’s early to say, but this looks to end up alongside Annihilator as a highlight in current-period Morrison and, possibly, of his entire career.
Thanks for reading about what we’re reading! We’ll be back next week with a slew of suggestions from across the comics spectrum. In the meantime, what are you reading? Tell us in the comments section, on Twitter or on our Facebook Page!