Book Review: The Wraith: Welcome to Christmasland, Joe Hill & Charles P. Wilson III (2014)

August 21st, 2014 12:32 pm by Kelly Garbato

Christmas in August!

five out of five stars

NOS4A2 was one of my favorite new releases last year; I devoured it in a matter of days and then promptly added all of Joe Hill’s titles to my wishlist. (Too late for Christmas, but that’s the way the gingerbread crumbles.) So you can only imagine how excited I was when I heard that Hill was resurrecting the twisted innerscape of Charles Manx III in graphic novel format. I pre-ordered The Wraith: Welcome to Christmasland as soon as it became available on Amazon, and have spent the last six months eagerly awaiting its arrival.

The Wraith is everything I wanted and more. It collects issues 1-6 of Welcome to Christmasland in a lovely (wait, did I say lovely? I meant nightmarish!) hardcover book, supplemented with oodles and oodles of extra artwork. The storyline briefly explores Charlie Manx’s childhood in the Wild West (we’re talking late 1800s here); after being violently assaulted and raped by one of his mother’s johns, Charles taps into the mysterious and unexpected power of his Fleet Fantom sled to exact his revenge.

Fast-forward to 1988, when a trio of escaped cons – including Dewey Hansom, a sleazy, child-raping music agent who also just so happens to be Manx’s current accomplice – calls on Manx for help. Manx promises to make them disappear so that the authorities will never find them; naturally, he loads them into the Wraith and takes them to Christmasland to meet his kids (and by “meet” I mean at the end of a very long sword). But Chess Llewellyn has an ace up his sleeve: balloons filled with delirium-101, sent to him by his dead son Adam, whose untimely death Chess was about to serve seven years for avenging.

Hill does an outstanding job of adapting Manx’s voice and world to the comic book medium, and the new stories are winners. (I especially liked the carnie geek and his foray into the Santa’s Claws Petting Zoo!) Likewise, the art by Charles Paul Wilson III and colors by Jay Fotos are simply amazing. Wilson captures the essence of Manx’s children/victims in all its ghastly glory. The colors are grim and monochromatic – except, of course, for the bright lights and bloody corpses of Christmasland, which add a gruesome splash of color to THE WRAITH.

I really hope this isn’t the end of the road for Charlie Talent Manx III and the kids of Christmasland. More please!

Trigger warning for rape, as well as misogynist/ableist/racist language that’s nonetheless in keeping with the time period and characters.

(This review is also available on Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you’re so inclined!)

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One Response to “Book Review: The Wraith: Welcome to Christmasland, Joe Hill & Charles P. Wilson III (2014)”

  1. 2014 Real Book Challenge: August Roundup » vegan daemon Says:

    […] The Wraith (Welcome to Christmasland #1-6) by Joe Hill and Charles Paul Wilson III (2014); reviewed here […]

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