Review – Wraith: Welcome To Christmasland #1 (of 5) (IDW Publishing)

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writer: Joe Hill
Artist: Charles P. Wilson III
Release Date: 13th November 2013

Charles Manx cruises along a dark road and makes a deal with the terrified child in the backseat; his only passenger. He will tell the child his life story and where they are going under the condition that she stops crying. It’s a raw deal as the story that follows is nasty.

It’s a smart idea which allows the narrative to skip some of the harsher details of Manx’s past to spare the child whilst allowing the accompanying artwork to show it. The reader isn’t spared any of the details and the artist doesn’t hold back. This makes some of the dark scenes that much darker. Manx has issues and some frightening coping mechanisms when it comes to dealing with them. He escapes into a world of his own and takes the people around him into this nightmare. Grim reality can change into intense fantasy where it’s hard to tell how much of anything is real at all or where this fantasy ends. All you know for sure is that it’s horrific. It’s imaginatively creepy and well executed.

I didn’t know what to expect from this comic and I don’t know what to expect from the next issue. It’s a strange read and touches on some big themes before everything gets muddled. It’s a slippery one to keep hold of and I haven’t seen anything similar since the horror movies of the 80’s. Charles Manx pulls his victims into his mind and in this first issue we’re just figuring out how bad that place can be.

Wraith is a dense read with a lot of narrative and script which can really dominate the panels on the page. This will no doubt please fans of the novel NOS4A2 and it is well written but with so much packed in it feels like it’s a page or two short of artwork. It’s a fine start though.

Rating: 7/10.

The writer of this piece was: James McQueen

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