Wraith: Welcome to Christmasland #1 is a prequel of sorts to Joe Hill’s novel, N0S4A2. I haven’t read the novel, but the first issue of Wraith is able to stand on its own, not requiring you to read anything beforehand to understand what’s going on. Joe Hill knows how to write some horror, and Wraith is certainly in the category.
Joe Hill has created a good, creepy character. Charlie Manx is a very troubled individual, and with his backstory, seen in the issue, I don’t think he had any other choice but to be scarred in some way. The issue is pretty wordy, I’m assuming because it’s a novel prequel, but it doesn’t take too much away from the story. The wordiness is almost necessary to get the full story of Charlie Manx without leaving out any information. The whole concept of the book is pretty solid, and the demon children having a snack in the backseat is nice and deranged. Joe Hill makes the premise and characters fairly interesting, but the book doesn’t really end on any kind of cliffhanger, or make you feel like you must have more. It’s entertaining, but everything is wrapped up pretty well, more like a one-shot.
CP Wilson III does a good job on the art. It fits the book well, especially with the multitude of blacks and muted colors throughout the issue. Wilson’s art sets the mood for the issue and makes everything seem so much bleaker and full of despair. He does a great job of depicting the facial expressions, and makes the supernatural elements feel very dark and imposing on the page. His monstrous snowmen were well done and one of my favorite scenes in the issue.
Overall, this is a pretty good issue. It’s not anything exceedingly special, but it was enjoyable. The art is solid, and the book is a bit wordy, but it serves its purpose in being that way. Joe Hill and CP Wilson III have made a creepy Christmas comic at just the right time of year. I don’t feel like I NEED to check out the second issue, but I’m sure I will to see more of Charlie Manx and the dark, twisted version of the holidays in Christmasland.