Manga Claus: The Blade of Kringle
Plot in a nutshell: Santa Claus vs. a rampaging horde of evil possessed ninja teddy bears.
Let me repeat that: Evil possessed ninja teddy bears.
I tried describing it to kateshort when I got home that night. She said I had the biggest grin on my face as I talked, and I say she couldn't stop laughing long enough to breathe, let alone notice my facial expressions.
This book is so full of the plaid crack that it comes out completely around the other side into good, clean fun.
Who wouldn't love this book? Well for one thing, if you believe the title, and the reviews at Amazon that say it's great for "manga-lovers", the first thing you'll notice is that it's not manga. It has lots of action, and ninja, and speed lines, but that does not a "manga" make.
It starts out with a flashback to Santa finishing his studies under a Tokugawa-era sensei in the arts of bujitsu and being granted the Miyaguchi Daisho swords. A disgruntled elf's attempts to use magic to animate an ninja nutcracker and "show them all" goes awry and the ninja's evil spirit ends up getting transferred into a pile of teddy bears. After the teddy bears get possessed and start attacking, the elf defensive force is quickly overpowered, and the sole defenders of the North Pole end up being Santa himself and a lone elf the bears missed. Hijinks ensue, and the Amazon reviewer who compared this to the original Die Hard was pretty much right on the money.
The little touches add to the overall park-your-brain-at-the-door silliness and also make this so much more than a one-joke pony that gets old and tired four pages in. The giant signs in the workshop with slogans like "Joy to the world". The "Turtledove Dam" (decorated with two giant stone birds) that provides the facility with all of its electricity. The "Holly Jolly MRI" in the infirmary. The room nicknames, like "Cafeteria D: 'Figgy pudding'"; "Guard Station 17, Reindeer games and veterinary services" (with a poster of a reindeer marked "flu shots"); "Elf dormitory A6, 'The Mistletoe Maniacs'". Characters exclaiming "Leaping lords, what have I done?" and "Oh holy night! They've already scaled the dam!" and "No, but that's where I'd go if I were a deranged ninja teddy bear." And the sign on the laundry wall: "Laundry Man says: Change your underwear every day!"
When I saw this in the Previews catalog a few months ago, I was momentarily intrigued, but decided it would probably be too dumb-funny & offensive, and hammer one joke into the ground. (Much like Battle Pope tends to be--this is a similar concept, but a very different execution.) Now that I've read it, it must be mine. As a co-worker said after I showed it to her, at first it looks like it will stomp all over the Santa Claus tradition, but in a strange way it actually sort of builds on it and reinforces it.
(Oh yeah, I almost forgot: story by Nathaniel Marunas [whose day job is book editor], art by Erik Craddock [whose day job is underground comic creator & online animation director].)
Highly recommended for anyone with a sense of whimsy about Christmas and who enjoys one-against-many adventures like Die Hard, Army of Darkness, etc.
Feudalism: Serf & Turf