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Wraith: Joe Hill & Charles Paul Wilson III - graphic novel review

Having read NOS 4R2 some years ago (review here) and enjoyed the television series based on Joe Hill’s novel, I was excited to discover the graphic novel prequel.

I bought it as part of my partner’s Christmas present, but I read it before they did – terrible (me not the book)!

The book is fun in a horrifying way, and the artwork is sublime.

Charlie Manx is a dreamer. His dreams are so strong that he can live in them and take others to live or die there too. However no one leaves unscathed, and very few leave at all.

Charlie had a traumatic upbringing. It’s an old trope with serial killers that they are corrupted by an unloving and promiscuous mother. I guess it’s true sometimes, but probably not as many times as have been portrayed, and Charlie Manx’s mother takes the brunt of the blame for her child’s evil in this story. Whether it’s to explain or justify what the man becomes, or to make him more sympathetic, I don’t know. Perhaps she is only there to add colour. Either way, Charlie grows up just as selfish and self-involved, finding a wife who will verbally abuse him – just as his mother did, then repaying her by gambling away their money on a harebrained scheme.

When the inevitable happens and the money is lost, Manx loses whatever sanity he’s clung on to, and Christmasland is born.

None of us believe ourselves villains, and Manx’s motive is to protect abused and neglected children while punishing those who take advantage of youth. In a way Christmasland is a paradise, where children play all day and never grow old. As a horror-loving Goth, I’d visit in a heartbeat if it weren’t for some of the games they play with their guests.

Enter Christmasland at your own risk – the artwork is worth the price of entry.

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