Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Dan Mora
We’ve seen Santa Claus origin stories before, but probably not one quite like Grant Morrison’s Klaus. Morrison, who you obviously know best from his runs on Animal Man, All-Star Superman or his original work like The Invisibles, calls this his “All-Star Santa Claus”, and rightfully so. It’s a decidedly more grounded and yet stranger origin than we’ve ever seen before.
Klaus‘ Santa is a wild mountain man, traveling from town to town to trade and make a meager living. But in the town of Grimsvig, all the men have been sent to work in a coal mine and all the toys have been taken from children for the sole purpose and enjoyment of a spoiled rotten prince. Klaus himself is chased out of town, his every belonging stolen from him, but it’s a strange vision and a forgotten night that spells out a new beginning for the peaceful nomad.
It’s so very on the nose, so very weird, and so decidedly Morrison. But I can’t deny that I really enjoyed the book. Morrison’s writing remains engaging and crisp, and Dan Mora’s art is downright gorgeous. Klaus could have easily been a one-note joke of a story, but the team here treats it with a serious tone, building a world that is as weird as it is bleak. There’s no merry, singing elves, no bright red costume, not even a reindeer (well, not really, at least). Klaus is a barrel chested, wolf befriending, ale drinking badass who longs for days when people were good and things were just. It’s going to be interesting to see how this man is transformed into the familiar Santa visage we see every year.
In short, Klaus is an idea that could have been handled as a joke, but instead it comes across as a unique tale, an alternate take on a popular mythos designed to be fun and engaging while still building a deeper world to explore. In typical Morrison fashion, the attraction is based almost entirely in seeing what strange, out of left field story he’ll tell next, ultimately ending with something poignant.
All-Star Santa Claus indeed.