Apparently there was some kind of population boom around the sixteen hundreds which coincided nicely with the rise of political correctness “gone mad”. See not only were more people demanding Santa to do a re-check of his naughty/nice list in hopes of getting bumped up to getting an actual present off the old coot but Krampus, “the evil Santa” who punishes the wicked and gifts the nice kids another year of life, was told to knock it off with the flaying of children and carrying young souls to hell.
Not that this stopped him and it was about another three hundred years before they managed to finally officially switch from brutally murdering naughty children to giving them a light slap on the wrist and just giving them whatever their parents could afford anyway.
Thus for the past seventy years Krampus has been locked away while the League of Super Santa’s delivers presents and protects the world. But all of that is about to change for this is………………
We open on Italian Santa ‘Belsnickel’ wondering around a sewer, maybe like all Italians he was trying to find a way out of his broken economy and into another more magical kingdom via sewer pipe (I think that refrence may have been too subtle -ed).
One powered by mushrooms and with pretty princess and evil turtles (much better -ed.)
However he doesn’t quite make it, stopped at the last minute by a swarm of sugar plum fairies. He promptly gets his ass handed to him and is forced to watch as the fairies uncover the remains of the actual St Nick. It seems they are working for some shadowy figure who is after the power of Father Christmas, or all of them really; as Father Christmas is just one of the red robed present givers in this story, as despite them calling an emergency meeting to discuss the possibility of considering doing something about all of this, the Santa Claus of the world are stripped of their powers and left stranded at the North Pole.
With panic setting in its up to the British to do something, with Father Christmas taking charge, and as usual for the British releasing a dark, questionable killer to solve our problem. However in this case they went for the one with goat hooves and green skin. See Krampus has been chilling all this time watching telly and eating mince pies, but now he is given a choice, his freedom in exchange for finding out who is behind all this and stopping them. He doesn’t so much agree as have a bomb attached to his chest and told to get on with it if he doesn’t want to die. Which has got to be better than a lifetime in the ‘Cooler’.
If this is starting to sound a little ‘Escape from New York’ then don’t worry for that’s pretty much what it is, all they are missing is every character stopping Krampus in the middle of a high paced action scene to say “I heard you were dead!”. I suspect this isn’t some call out of the author as I feel fairly confident that they know this more than any of us simple minded readers. Heck the only reason this probably isn’t called “Escape from the North Pole” is because Krampus manages it within the first issue and is then flown all around the world from California to Ibiza and back again. Now I don’t want to get too much into spoilers but I will say that this is perhaps the first evidance I have heard of a Santa nerd. The story shows each “St Nick” off-shoot as a separate character and often works their own background stories in to shaping the character. Call outs that will fly over most peoples head are woven into the text quite nicely such as Belsnickel going soft unlike Krampus when he received a rewrite to be a more P.C Santa. This also extends to the big bad of the story who won’t be familiar to anyone I suspect outside of fans of festive cold war history. In fact I’ve no idea if the backstory for the bad guy is true or not but it’s damn interesting.
As is the rest of the story. It creeks a little outside of the main plot with a pun related bounty hunter that seems like the writer was a little stuck after finishing up the first draft, got drunk and wrote down the first thing that made him giggle. But it never overindulges itself though it does manage to feel a little baggy in places as though a little too proud of its world building and not proud enough of its idea for Snake Plisken to be played by a green guy with goat hooves who gets off on punishing the bad boys and girls. The book could have benefited from dropping some of the plot lines and limiting the scope a little bit instead of whipping us from desert landscapes to Italian suburbs so quickly. We drop in ‘The Nutcracker’ a seven foot tall mechanical, wooden soldier in issue one as some muscle against our hero and then drop him again so quickly after you would think he was Darth Maul in the prequel trilogy. Perhaps next time a little more time on the cork board of strings and a little less on the welsh horse singing pop tunes.
Anyway the comic itself is decent and while I enjoyed “Last Christmas” a bit more I can more easily see this one being brought out again for a re-read next holiday period. There is room for a sequel what with a shadowy big bad cackling over the end credits. Though I would like to see them branch out a bit more to explore other areas of the festive period especially as the shadowy master mind villain revealed at the end while sounding “fun” doesn’t sound anywhere near as deep, clever or interesting as the one we actually got in the book. In fact it sounds like it will just be Mister Freeze from Batman and Robin.