Comics Features Reviews

REVIEW: Sleigher: Heavy Metal Santa Claus is Adrenaline-charged Christmas Fun

So we have reached that time of the year once again: the trees lavished with blinding lights, the last minute shopping rush to get that someone the perfect gift, and the banquet of food followed immediately by a sense of guilt and a promise for a strict diet in the new year. But its part of our traditions and what make this time of year such a wonder for many of us. And one of the (many) symbols that brings this magic is the man in the red suit, Santa Claus. But even a tradition needs a modern makeover, so what would Santa be like if he was, let’s say, a heavy metal rocker that loves to drink, play guitar, and punch his way out of situations? Not the first thing that comes to mind for the season to be jolly but Sleigher: Heavy Metal Santa Claus it still carries the heart and the history of the treasured holiday with modern ideas and humour for a unique read that will definitely lift your spirits.

Our seasonal tale focuses on Sleigher, the next in the lineage of the Santa name preparing for his first Christmas at the helm, but believe me when I say he doesn’t follow the traditions of his predecessors and is unorthodox in his methods. Riding his trusty reindeer skull motorbike Blitzkrieg, he is more content in drinking with his elves and rocking out into the early hours. But evil forces seek to once again ruin the season of giving, as in Iceland, the darker legends of the holidays gather and plan to ruin the season, get revenge on the Santa lineage, and bring back an evil that threatens the children of the world. It’s up to Sleigher, his grandfather the original Santa, and his literal band of elves to save Christmas. Can Sleigher overcome the demons (as well as his own) to win the fight before Christmas?

Rob Harrington has been highly articulate in his narrative and has put in a lot of time in presenting the folktales that hate the spirit of the season. All  the twisted creatures that grace the pages are centuries old tales passed down from generation to generation. Our antagonists of this story: Leppaluoi, Gryla, and the Yule Lads, are all European legends said to terrify and  punish the naughty kids, and from how they act in the story, they live up to the reputation. The story flows at great pace, allowing us to see different locations from the mosh pit of Sleigher’s workshop to a brawl that travels across the continent and new monstrosities without becoming over-bearing and even uses a slideshow style for flashbacks that lay out the information clearly. This also help to flesh out the character’s convictions and to greater understand the motivations of both sides of this story. Rob even gets to make some jokes at more recent talking points with a home invasion of a certain Russian leader (in his bathroom) and our tale even begins with Sleigher saving a young boy from a malicious Cardinal (well, this isn’t for kids in case you didn’t guess beforehand).

Axur Eneas brings a twisted style that has each page being worthy of being its own heavy metal album cover, the covers of the issues are definite highlights full of detail and vivid imagery. The morbid physical appearances of our villains are warped and disfigured with over-emphasised features such as the Yule Lads distorted, swollen faces to Gryla’s wart covered nose and sharpened fingers, their designs seemingly from a child’s darkest nightmare, fitting to their real-world influences. Santa also isn’t the only thing that was given a metal makeover with the spike leather jacket and dark shades, his elves get to cut loose with baggy clothing, tattoos and crazy hairstyles that give each a sense of personality and originality rather than sticking with the silly hats and jingling bell shoes stereotypical design. All of this creates a twisted and crazy world, full of chaos and bad-ass moments that would definitely spice up the festivities.

This wonderful shared vision comes together to create a Christmas tale that is unlike any other you could possibly imagine and marvellous all the same. You wouldn’t often picture Santa as such a bad-ass but he still keep his morals and love of the season close to him and protecting the children his top priority. The characters have a comical yet solid feel and kept my attention from beginning to end through their crazy antics, snappy dialogue and diverse locations. If you are looking for a new Christmas tradition, show your support to keep the story going and sleigher might just be the perfect gift for that metalhead in your life.

Have you had the chance to read Sleigher: Heavy Metal Santa Claus? What other holiday legends do you know of that would make a great enemy for Sleigher? Sound off in the comments or send us your thoughts on Twitter!

About the author

Connor Filsell