3 out of 5
Yeah, I… hated the first Klaus series. I wasn’t into a lot of Grant’s output at the time (Happy really soured me, and post-52, I didn’t have the patience for the long form approach he was taking on Batman and Superman), and Klaus seemed like another in a series of cut-and-paste “Grant Morrison revamps X!” series, even being highlighted as “All-Star Superman for Santa.” Eventually, I’ve been able to revisit Morrie’s stuff from that era, and have been enjoying it. When a new Klaus one-shot came out, it was a good’un, and so I’ll surely be retrying that original miniseries at some point. Between now and then, I picked up the other one-shots – the first of which, post the main run, was ‘The Witch of Winter’ – and though this is much closer to the kind of cookie cutter writing I recalled, it’s also not burdened with the need to be some mind-blowing origin tale; it’s fluff, but it’s entertaining fluff.
Santa has returned to Earth, and he tracks two missing kids to his old workshop, where he finds fellow toymaker Gepetto enslaved to the titular witch. Santa struts his stuff and saves the day, in forty pages. There’s the typical Morrison sprinkling of lore throughout – naming characters surely from whatever Santa-related texts there are out there – and it doesn’t carry much weight, because this character, in general, just… is. Dan Mora draws him very much “is”, with a totally typical build and cool Dad strut and beard, and he gets attacked by snow creatures and he makes a proclamation and then beats ’em up.
Mora still struggles with some pacing and framing – and Klaus’ proportions / features slip out of consistency here and there – but Witch of Winter, overall, has a much more paced feel to it than the previous series, and the witch’s minions (her soldier fodder; the other characters besides Gepetto she’s mesmerized) are fun and varied. Grant does a good job of not putting up a front that this story is any more than what it is – a romp – and even sidles in some interesting wrinkles with the witch’s motivations, even if they’re sort of undone a page later. So while I still don’t think of Klaus as a character that can necessarily support a series or his own books, this is an enjoyable slice of comic book that stays within its poppy adventure vein and puts on a good show of it.