Group Review – Klaus #1 (of 6) (BOOM! Studios)

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Dan Mora
Release Date: 4th November, 2015

Chris B Says…

It’s a pretty fair question; do you know where Santa came from? I know I’ve always imagined him as the jolly, fat, bearded man we see plastered everywhere, but what we have in this series is what happens when Grant Morrison is allowed to tell us the story.

Visually, the book is stunning. I mean properly beautiful. I’m rarely so glad to have a zoom function on a screen so I can see every panel up close. Not being familiar with Dan Mora’s work before picking this up, you can be damn sure I’ll be devouring it from now on!

Story? Good. Art? Good. “Morrison twist?” Nailed it.

The only thing I could really pick the book up on is the fact that it’s a tiny bit stereotypical in its typcasting of characters, from the strong bearded lead, to the snake-like token baddie and the little shit you hope gets his comeuppance.

All in all, however, a very solid start.

Rating: 4/5.

Andrew M Says…

I am a fan of Grant Morrison so I was desperate to get my hand on Klaus for his take on the origin of Santa. A quick cursory scan and you can see this is a beautifully illustrated comic; it is complete visual porn and has me wondering why I I’m not familiar with the name Dan Mora? Check out his Behance or Deviant Art profile, because I’m pretty sure he’ll be a hot property on the back of Klaus. If I was asked to describe it, I’ve have to say part Jim Lee, part Jock, with a hint of Rafael Albuquerque. I have your attention now, don’t I?

It’s therefore frustrating that while the art is visually stunning, I would have to describe the story as contrived. It’s killing me to write this, but I just didn’t see that spark of trademark Morrison originality in Klaus. I could have been reading an episode of Fables at times. That’s not necessarily bad, you understand, it’s just that it’s been done before. This is nowhere near the level of We3 or Happy. I hate that I have to say this, but it’s genuinely the way I feel after reading Klaus.

We have a stereotypical hero, a spoiled brat kid villain, a villain/stepfather that manipulates the spoiled kid, and a mother that hates the kid and just wants to keep said kid happy and quiet and doesn’t really care who suffers – as long as it’s managed. There is nothing there that hasn’t been done before, and it’s only in the last few pages that things finally go full-on Morrison and my attention is finally piqued. All things being equal, it’s a decent start; the art is great, the story is okay, and, I hope, can only get better.

Rating: 3/5.

John Says…

Well, it’s finally happened. I have finally read something from BOOM! Studios which isn’t an instant classic and it makes me want to cry. Klaus is a comic that I wanted to be awesome, that I wanted to blow my socks off. Instead I’m left with off-the-shelf characters with no sign of bespoke in sight, and that’s something that’s entirely unusual for Grant Morrison. It’s not badly written, don’t get me wrong; it’s well-crafted and confidently plotted, but it just doesn’t “WOW”. In fact, it feels a little like the lead-in to a quest in Skyrim or Witcher 3. Both are good games, but it’s fair to say that some of the quests can be repetitive and derivative.

The artwork on the other hand gives me no reason to gripe. It’s positively lovely. Dan Mora is a supernova in the making. It’s dynamic, it’s crisp, it’s… pretty damn… no, scratch that is DAMN good. I also love the fact that he also appears to ink and colour his own work too, it means you are getting the full Dan Mora visuals the way the artist intended. The magic of being able to work digitally I suppose.

Overall, I was a little disappointed with the lack of originality in the supporting characters. Okay, Santa Claus as a hunter is definitely different, but the supporting cast are rent-a-mob at best. This is Grant Morrison though, so who knows where it could all go. I’ll definitely keep reading on in the hope of a twist or six, and also to soak up more of the art. It’s worth the cover price for the visuals alone.

Mr Morrison, please surprise us in issue 2.

Rating: 3.5/5.

Kieran Says…

I have a confession to make: I am not a fan of Grant Morrison. It’s not because I think he’s a bad writer or anything, because, let’s face it: he’s not. It’s just that I’ve always felt his ideas have been better than their execution, and these days, I’m not particularly interested in anything he’s attached to. However, when Klaus was announced, I was excited. An origin story about Santa Claus, written by the man who turned Magneto into a junkie? This had all the makings of a twisted little tale leading up to the Christmas season. Unfortunately, it’s no such thing.

First, let’s talk about the strengths. The artwork is simply mesmerising and worth the price of a copy on its own. Every single frame is impeccable, and quite frankly jaw-dropping. It’s visually arresting, and it’s going to make Dan Mora a household name in the industry. It’s just a shame that the characters and the story weren’t up to scratch enough to go along with it.

Let’s start with the characters. There isn’t a single one who doesn’t feel like a stereotype of those found in other medieval, crusader stories. Klaus exudes about as much charisma as an oak tree and is about as generically written as a U2 song, as are the other characters who just don’t have an original bone in their perfectly-drawn bodies. There’s a royally spoiled, incessant brat of a child I hope to see eaten by a wolf in a future issue, but other than him no other character managed evoke either my support or hatred. Meh.

The story itself is all too familiar ground, trodden countless times by other bearded wanderers in the past. A crusader enters a once friendly, booming town, to find it’s now poverty stricken and unwelcoming. Quite like Helm’s Deep from the Two Towers, with a little bit of Skyrim thrown in for good measure. It’s Yuletide season, the beer is watered down and they don’t like visitors. Klaus just wants to sell his furs, but the soldiers want to beat him to a pulp. But the worst part is the children are miserable, and that doesn’t sit too well with old Saint Nick.

Klaus isn’t a bad read, but it’s very imitative of other stories of the same nature. It’s worth checking out if you’re a fan of ale, arrows and castles. I am, so I’ll keep reading. Furthermore, with Morrison, there’s bound to be a few spanners in the works sooner or later. Aside from my issues with the boring characters and the predictable story, it’s too early to write it off just yet, but hopefully it improves soon.

That artwork though.

Rating: 3/5.

Christopher N Says…

Grant Morrison with an alternate origin story for Santa Claus. This could be good – and it is, up to a point.

The first thing that has to be said is that the artwork is stunning, with every page worthy of being framed and hung on a wall, with the style being reminiscent of the sort of stuff that goes on nostalgic christmas cards and advent calendars, just with more blood.

Sadly, the story isn’t exactly groundbreaking so far, with every character so far introduced very much a pencilled-in stereotype, from the goodhearted wild man to the petty and cruel guards, the cute but downtrodden street urchins to the petulant noble’s child and Machiavellian Baron.

That said, there are some interesting magical touches, with wolves and trippy nighttime activities and that could pay dividends going forward.

I’m willing to give the lack of innovative story a pass on account of this being the first issue and it has done the job in giving us our hero, our villain, a grudge to be settled and a little bit of setting, while still offering a few questions and a lot of room for character development.

This series could turn out to be great, or it could be very run of the mill but at the moment, I’m definitely interested enough to pick up the second issue.

Rating: 3.5/5.

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