Written by Brian Joines
Illustrated by Dean Kotz
Colored by Ron Riley
Lettered by Charles Pritchett
Cover by Dean Kotz
Release Date: December 18, 2013
Cover Price: $2.99
What happens if you mix an adventure worthy of Indiana Jones with the sass and sarcasm of Hellboy, and then sprinkle it with a heaping helping of holiday magic? You get the surprisingly entertaining dark comedy from Image Comics: Krampus #1 by Brian Joines.
It’s probably tough to pull off a Christmas-themed comic that actually appeals to fans who prefer a gritty story over one covered in sugarplums and dipped in chocolate, and I say this because I recall only one other (The Last Christmas by Brian Posehn and Gerry Duggan) that managed it. Brian Joines, however, has stepped up to the Christmas comic challenge and has emerged victorious thanks to his delightfully wicked “hero” and his own twisted sense of humor.
Krampus #1 introduces readers to the Secret Society of Santas, a group of legendary holiday figures from around the world who have been bestowed magical powers by the first Santa—St. Nicholas. When the bones of St. Nicholas are stolen, the Society’s magic mysteriously vanishes, leaving the group stranded at the North Pole.
Seeing no other solution to their dilemma, the Society releases Krampus from his North Pole prison and enlists his help in recovering the remains of St. Nicholas in exchange for his freedom. To ensure his compliance, Krampus is outfitted with a high-tech “naughty bomb” (courtesy of Japan’s Santa, Hoteiosho) that can detect when the wearer misbehaves and will then arm and detonate. I suppose nothing beats the fear of exploding when it comes to keeping a mischief-loving mythical beast in line.
Joines clearly did his homework on the history of Santa myths and legends before crafting the famous cast of characters in Krampus #1. Placing those characters in a plot fitting of a Dan Brown novel was a bold move, but one that adds the unexpected twist to this Christmas comic that really makes it work.
Joining forces with the team of visual arts magicians that includes illustrator Dean Kotz proves that Brian Joines most certainly made it on the “Nice List” this year because the graphics set a wonderful tone for the story’s dark theme and wise-cracking dialog without being cartoonish or goofy.
The cliffhanger ending has me eager to lay hands on the next issue in this series, but until then I recommend that you stuff as many stockings as you can with Krampus #1.