Krampus! #1 (Image)

krampuscover

Rating: 3.5/5 – A humorous take on the Krampus legend.

KRAMPUS! is a dark fantasy comedy that puts an interesting spin on the legend of Krampus. For those not in the know, Krampus is a mythical beast whose true calling is to bestow punishment on children who misbehave. In short, he’s the direct opposite of Santa Claus. He’s a creature of unadulterated evil, a beastie who strikes cold fear into the hearts of children all over the world. Now what happens if Krampus, by some stroke of twisted fate, is compelled to work on the side of angels? That’s the premise from which this new ongoing Image series is based on, and it’s rather interesting.

This world that writer Brian Joines and artist Dean Kotz has created is in some ways a mirror to our own, but with one major difference: Santa Claus is real. Or to be exact, Santa Clauses from different generations collectively known as the Secret Society of Santa Clauses are real. Unfortunately for them, the remains of Saint Nicholas (yes, the same person who inspired the Santa legend) have been stolen from the tomb that occupied it for ages and as a result took away their power. Stuck in a quandary, Father Christmas (the current Santa Claus), after a spirited discussion with a rather assorted group of Santas, makes a desperate decision to hire the services of Krampus (despite the protestations of the first Santa, Sinterklaas) to take back the missing bones and in the process regain the magic they have lost. In exchange for his services, Krampus gets promised his eventual freedom, but only if he plays nice. Otherwise, he gets blown to bits thanks to the “Naughty Bomb” embedded in his chest.

Despite the elements of dark fantasy and horror in the narrative, KRAMPUS! is ultimately a light-hearted take on the legend of Krampus. The script is interspersed with funny one-liners and circumstances that throw a comical light on the usual tropes involved in Christmas stories. While the script managed to get several chuckles from me here and there, there’s nothing here that one can consider uproariously funny. But that is forgivable, on account of this being a first issue and the fact that humor is cumulative. This first issue has set up the world of Krampus! rather well and if the last page is anything to go by, the script has deftly paved the way for more hilarity in the succeeding issues.

I’m a bit conflicted about the art. Dean Kotz is a very good artist, his sketchy and rough style might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but his art on this issue really showcased his good grasp of form and structure. His character work evokes a Dickensian vibe that, to some degree, translated well to the bleak yet comical atmosphere of the story. With that said, I still think that a cleaner style would serve the narrative better and make the comedic parts stand out more.

Overall, Krampus! #1 is a good romp of a read and well worth the money you pay for it. It has its flaws, but I find the dark yet comedic tone of the story fascinating and immersive. And there’s a nice cliffhanger at the end that heightened my interest to pick up the next issue. If Brian Joines and Dean Kotz could maintain the same quality of work they have delivered here, I sure wouldn’t mind picking up this title for the long haul.

Reviewed by: Lawrence Arboleda – lawrence@comicspectrum.com
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