My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
It’s the end of the world. Actually, it’s after the end of the world. World War III has been fought, natural disasters have ravaged the earth. Roving gangs and mutant zombies roam the earth, seeking out the last of humanity. It’s “The Walking Dead” and “Mad Max” rolled into one. The North Pole is attacked by marauders, killing Mrs. Claus and leaving Santa for dead. Depressed, he makes numerous attempts at suicide before realizing he can’t die as long as one child still believes in him. So, Santa sets out to correct this…
This is the basic premise for The Last Christmas, a graphic (and gory) novel written by Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn, and illustrated by Rick Remender, supposedly conceived while the writers were playing Halo, according to the notes. I believe it. The whole book reads and looks like the thought train of smoking too much pot while staring at a box of Christmas decorations and imagining all their potential violent uses other than for their intended purpose.
The story is quite good and flows like smooth egg nog. Mostly. It can occasionally flows very quickly at times, almost too quickly, which gives it a jerky motion, but not overly so. Most of the time it ramps up appropriately rather than going from zero to sixty in a half second. The plot is also fairly entertaining, with some subtle twists, although it starts out a lot more interesting than it ends. While it starts out quickly with the apocalypse (it’s always a good idea to begin with the end of the world) and the rampages and the murder, it turns into a fairly conventional rescue and destroy story. It would have been nice to see some more risks taken as the story went on, but we can’t hope for everything. Plus, the very end felt like it was tacked on and unnecessary, and seemed like the creators were just saying “Hey, look what we’re doing,” and felt like it served no real purpose and wasn’t that funny.
While the characters are generally well drawn (in a literary sense, not artwise; I’ll discuss the art in a moment), occasionally motivations seem strange. Santa is clearly depressed over the apocalypse and the death of Mrs. Claus, but somehow the elves seem simplistic. They are supposed to be happy and helpful, so they are happy and helpful, no matter the circumstance. Well, they do become violent a little later, but it felt like they could have used some more fleshing out. Also, the motivations for some of the villains seem lacking. One of the main villains is a mutant who wears a judge’s robe, but this is never really explained or even capitalized on. It had a lot of potential that was never brought forth. At the same time, they serve their purpose for the plot, so it’s not a huge drag.
The art is quite pleasing to the eye. The drawings are quite beautifully done, and the ink is colorful and vibrant. It’s quite an interesting juxtaposition having a much darker story taking place in a bright and colorful world, but it’s one that helps maintain the humor. It is supposed to be funny, after all. A lot of the drawings also include subtle details that make you want to take your time and fully enjoy them, rather than just blow through them.
The Last Christmas is a good read, even if it falls far short of perfection. Even taking some time to enjoy the art, it’s a very fast read and gives a darkly funny Christmas story full of blood and guts and mutilations, just as Christmas should be.
The Last Christmas earns 3.5 slay bells out of 5.
Note: A review copy of this title was provided to this reviewer without charge through NetGalley. This has in no way affected to content of this review.