Writer – Brian Joines
Illustrator – Dean Kotz
Colors – Ron Riley
Letterer – Charles Pritchett
Publisher – Image Comics
Years ago I was watching PBS and saw a documentary about the history of Christmas. I wasn’t even paying attention to it really, it was more of an in-the-background kind of thing, but part of that show made me sit up and take notice!
Apparently, it’s an Eastern European Christmas tradition to dress up as a monster, go door to door to your friend’s and relative’s houses, and terrify all the children you come across along the way, all while getting hammered on Schnapps! Only blasting Slayer’s God Hates Us All, while doing all of the above, could be more METAL! This totally badass way of celebrating the holidays is based around a creature from Eastern European folklore called the Krampus. The Krampus steals bratty kids away to his lair in a sack and beats them with sticks, which brings me to the new Image Comics release called what else? KRAMPUS!
First of all, this book has a striking cover that caught my attention right away. It shows our hero(?)…the Krampus of the title, sitting atop a pile of unconscious Santas with a skull wearing a Santa Claus hat in his left hand, and a bundle of switches, used for beating kids no doubt, in his right. On the inside of the front cover there is a brief rundown to fill us in a bit about what we are about to read. It states that in the 17th century, the first of many magic-wielding Santa Clauses was overwhelmed by the amount of gift requests from children. In an effort to more efficiently deliver gifts to deserving children he used some dark magic to conjure up a creature to help him weed out and punish the bad ones.
After a few centuries of making Christmas rock like a hurricane, Santa or Sinterklaas, and I’m assuming the other Clauses he has recruited to help him over the years, decide to no longer punish the wicked. This is a bummer for the Krampus, who enjoys terrifying the children. The Krampus decides to go solo and the Santas eventually subdue him and keep him imprisoned, bringing us to our story in the present day.
We start off with Belsnickel, another dark figure from German folklore that in this story betrayed his pal Krampus to work with the Santas. He is investigating the possible impending theft of the bones of the original Saint Nicholas. The bones are the source of The Secret Society Of Santa Clauses’ power and without them the Clauses entire operation would grind to a halt. Belsnickel comes upon Sugar Plum Fairies with attitude at the tomb of Saint Nicholas and a fight ensues. Belsnickel is overwhelmed by the fairies and severely wounded as they make off with the bones.
Meanwhile, a meeting of the modern day SSOSC is taking place at the North Pole and we find out that every culture on Earth that has a Santa Claus figure in its traditions has an appointed Santa representative of their specific region present.
The group has gathered to discuss the consequences of the bones being stolen and the meeting is interrupted by a reindeer falling out of the sky and through the ceiling. The unthinkable has just happened. With the bones stolen the Santas have lost their power and all are trapped at the North Pole. What’s their only hope? The Krampus of course!
The Santas go to the Krampus’ cell and ask for his help in exchange for his freedom. The conditions of this agreement are, The Krampus must succeed in his mission and he must not fall back to his old ways. The Santas insure this by strapping a Naughty Bomb around our hero’s chest that will monitor his Naughty levels and if his Naughty outweighs his Nice, KABOOM! Krampus agrees to the terms of their arrangement and is given back his faithful Wolf steed, Stutgaard.
As the Krampus takes off to start his investigation we see that the Santas are not alone at The North Pole. A mysterious silhouetted figure on a cell phone in the Hall of Enemies seems to be coordinating with the fairies from inside the Santa organization!
Who is the mysterious figure at the North Pole? What are his plans for the bones of Saint Nicholas? Will the Krampus be able to resist the temptation to return to his terrifying antics or will he explode? These are the questions left to be answered after this first issue and I can’t wait to find out!
I love this character. From his thick Eastern European accent to his sarcastic attitude, the Krampus is definitely a character I want to learn more about. Some resemblance to Hellboy in appearance can’t be denied but the Krampus has a personality all his own. He revels in wickedness and resents the Santas for keeping him from his favorite pastime.
Writer Brian Joines delivers on his script and I loved the mix of old world folklore, modern day Christmas tradition, secret-agent-style action and suspense, and humor.
The art team of Dean Kotz, Ron Riley, and with letters by Charles Pritchett does an outstanding job of visually bringing the story to life, giving it the look of an action packed comic book, without killing the jokes.
I really enjoyed this first issue. I went into it not really knowing what to expect and wasn’t disappointed. There is some mild language and the book has a Teen rating but there’s nothing too serious or shocking in the story or artwork. Overall, a great read and look forward to the next issue. I give KRAMPUS! #1 a wicked…..
5 out of 5 nerds