Matt Johnson

Klaus 4 of 6 – Comic Review

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Klaus returns in another excellent release from BOOM! Studios.  The series holds strong and continues to scratch all the itches the previous 3 issues did.

See my previous Klaus reviews Issue One, Issue Two, and Issue Three

 

Klaus #4 cover

Klaus #4 cover

Title: Klaus #4
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Dan Mora
Cover Artist: Dan Mora
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Release Date: 3.23.16

Klaus #4 continues the well-crafted arc of the backstory of our less-than-jolly protagonist.  This issue delves deeper into the origin of the character and manages to pull at a few heartstrings along the way.  A lot of the issue is spent on a young Klaus and his journey to becoming the man we’ve been following more recently.

When my editor passed me the newest issue of Klaus it came with a warning.  The art was, apparently, somehow diminished from the outright excellence of the previous issues.  I prepared myself to finally be disappointed in the series and forged ahead sadly.  On viewing the cover and first pages it’s apparent something is different in the art style.  I can’t put a finger on it, but it feels somewhat more sketchy and less finished than before.  Now that I’ve said that, let me say that the first panel is of jagged black mountains spearing the blizzard-y winter sky.  Slightly left-of-center is a wraith-like woman, frozen, with a red bundle embraced tightly in grey arms.  Even though it looks slightly less refined, it’s still one of the more powerful images I’ve seen in the entire series.  That theme continues throughout the episode.  Somehow the imagery, while “diminished” in some way, actually comes across as more powerful.

We quickly learn that the red bundle in the frozen woman’s arms is a baby Klaus, somehow alive due to the warmth of his heart.  We learn that “Klaus” means “Victory of the people”, and begin to track him as a growing child.  He falls for a girl and warms her heart by carving magical creatures and generally clowning around.  In the background is a young, broody Magnus, who also pines for the girl.  It’s good to see nothing’s changed for him over the years.

The girl, the coveted object of affection for both boys-becoming-men, is the Lady Dagmar and here the story cuts back to the end of the previous issue, with modern Klaus confronting her, introducing himself in the shadows only as “a friend” and then revealing himself to be the Klaus of her youth.  The next three panes are gorgeous examples of hard light and character spacing and a moment that might be expected to end in a joyous embrace or kiss quickly turns the other direction.

We rewind again, to Klaus as a young man, captain of the guard.  As he and his men are out hunting wolves, we meet the Ghost-Wolf, his future companion, as an adorable pup.  In an act of mercy Klaus lets it live.  Next, Klaus is framed for the death of the king, again by our slimy friend Magnus, and left to die alone in the wild.  Fortunately the wolf, now grown, finds him, and keeps him warm and alive.  The pages showing this are, again, some of my favorite in the whole series so far.  Especially the last pane.  Mora’s artistic vision and intuition is seriously flawless.

The story spends a bit more time with the young prince and we see that Magnus is using him to set a trap for Klaus in the next issue or two.  We also revisit the miner rebellion, which appears to be brutally crushed.  I like how this is left because the story could very easily move away and forget that group, but it’s obvious they will play a pivotal role in the future of the story – I’m thinking beyond even the 6 issue arc, but that will remain to be seen.

God I love this series.  Love, love, love.  It captivates me far more than it should and pulls me into it’s world effortlessly.  Every pane, even in this “reduced” issue, is a powerful work of art that stands on its own merit.  Morrison and Mora brute-force their world and their story into your brain and squeeze for all they’re worth.  I’m both excited and apprehensive as the series approaches the end.  What comes after that?  How much longer will I have to wait for more Klaus?  Most importantly, why am I wondering this when there are still 2 more issues coming.  I’ll tell you why.  Because it’s just that good.

As with the other Klaus reviews, I really only want to recommend your read and continue to follow this whole series.  It is amazing and this current issue ends in a way I know leads to even deeper story-line leading to the end.  If you’re still unfulfilled, anything in the current Conan run would also be an excellent read.

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