Review: ‘Wraith: Welcome To Christmasland’ #3

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Spine-chilling to the core, “Wraith: Welcome To Christmasland” #3 is a thought-provoking tale of lost chances and revenge beyond the grave. Based on Joe Hill’s vampire epic novel, “NOS4A2,” readers will be captivated and terrified by its dangerous madman, known as Charlie Manx. If you loved the novel, you must certainly get your hands on this prequel series.

WRITTEN BY: Joe Hill
ART BY: Charles Paul Wilson III
PUBLISHER: IDW Publishing
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASE: January 15, 2013

Three hardened criminals – Dewey, Hansom, and Teach – have escaped from the law and are now desperately seeking refuge. With the police chasing after them, Dewy makes a frantic call to someone he knew from his past. Now the three fugitives find themselves trapped in the backseat of a 1938 Rolls Royce Wraith. Their kidnapper, Charlie Manx, is taking them on a frightening ride to Hell, known only as Christmasland. But, will they find redemption or punishment when they arrive at the steel gates of Christmasland?

What I really enjoyed about Joe Hill’s writing is how he keeps readers inside the mind of a good man, whose kind heart has been corrupted by bad times. Hill jumps back and forth in time as he tells the story of Teach, a father who loves his son so much. In the heart-breaking opening scene, Teach holds his sick child in his arms as he rushes into the hospital. The doctors cold-heartedly refuse to treat the dying child because he has no insurance. Making a point with the topical issue, Hill hits home with his social commentary and never lets the readers forget why Teach has emotionally broken down.

It’s interesting how Hill manages to compare Teach to Charlie, as they are both ordinary men slowly becoming monsters. Though Hill hints that there is something redeemable about Teach, he is just too far gone for forgiveness. Charlie struggled to hold onto his humanity but lost to his primal urges. Is it possible for Teach to find redemption or has he reached a point where there is no turning back?
Artist Charles Paul Wilson III is able to present two different sides of Teach as the narrative jumps between the past and present. In the flashbacks, Wilson depicts Teach as a caring and loving father desperately seeking for help. In the present, Wilson portrays Teach as a hardened fugitive who is haunted by past mistakes. Notice how Wilson illustrates the smear of blood around Teach’s eye. There is blood dripping from Teach’s eye, as if he hasn’t stopped crying for his lost son.

Though the story is bleak, Wilson is able to inject some humor into his panels. When Charlie arrives in his car, one of the criminals reaches out and hugs him. While the criminal has him locked in a bear hug, Charlie hates the fact he is being touched. This is the only time that Charlie, who always has a maniacal grin on his face, is not smiling.

Horror fans should not miss out on “Wraith: Welcome To Christmasland” #3. What’s great about this comic book adaptation is that it makes you want to buy the novel as well.

4/5 Skulls

Reviewed by Jorge Solis