Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Klarion the Witchboy #4

Klarion the Witchboy #4, December 2005, DC Comics
writer: Grant Morrison
artist: Frazer Irving
letterer: Pat Brosseau
associate editor: Michael Siglain
editor: Peter Tomasi

Klarion the Witchboy is just one of several miniseries penned by Grant Morrison at the end of 2005 in his ambitious Seven Soldiers crossover, featuring B-list characters from DC Comics' rich past. Indeed, Klarion the Witchboy is an established character, but this issue, the last in his spotlight miniseries, is my first encounter with him. I like him. He's quite pleasant . . . for a witchboy.

This character strikes me as the perfect outlet for Morrison's dark sense of humor and penchant for the fantastic as commonplace, since Klarion seems to live in a village of Amish witches. At the beginning of this issue, Klarion is set to burn at the stake at the hands of his own mother and her kin -- the women are under a spell by wand not their own. Of course, they snap out of it in plenty of time for Klarion to save the day -- at his mother's beckoning, Klarion rings the Bell of Sabbat nine times, raising the village's dead to fight their enemy's well-armed henchmen. Nothing like zombies and witchboys to make for a good Halloween read, but it's Morrison's macabre wit that steals the show:

KLARION: Don't look so sad, Mother. I'll try to overlook that you led the chorus to my execution.
MOTHER: Even mothers can make mistakes, Klarion.

Ha! Artist Frazer Irving helps tell this gothic tale with class; since a colorist isn't credited, I assume Irving handled that responsibility himself. When an artist colors his own material, he has complete ownership of the page, and Irving handles the responsibility masterfully. The character's subtle blue skin tones and the heavy use of inks and shadow create a mood that carries the issue, a real sense of the supernatural. I think girls would really like this style. Alan Davis meets the Emily stuff I see at Hot Topic. Solid.

Ultimately, Morrison's efforts didn't make too many waves, especially since this story was quickly eclipsed by DC's latest crisis. However, the epic is a testament to a company's faith in a writer, to trust him with seven distinct properties, none of which were really bearing fruit, and to combine them in a storytelling exercise that may please some readership. With just one issue under my belt, I say these soldiers accomplished their mission. Klarion the Witchboy was a superb addition to my Halloween-themed reviews!

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