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Comic Book / Wraith: Welcome to Christmasland

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Wraith: Welcome to Christmasland is a comicbook miniseries written by Joe Hill and illustrated by Charles Paul Wilson III. It is a prequel to Hill's novel NOS4A2.

Three escaped convicts and their hostages catch a ride with none other than Charlie Manx on his Wraith. Manx delivers them to Christmasland, a magical place where it's Christmas forever. And when they get there, they'll wish they had gone to prison instead...

Wraith contains examples of:

  • Bait-and-Switch: Agnes insists Chess was a fool for what he did to the doctor. If it had been her, she'd have made sure to do so without witnesses.
  • Bastard Understudy: The con-man and Lew left the Ph.D. to be caught by the police and sent to prison.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Sykes attempts to dispatch of Charlie this way. It doesn't work.
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: Chess and Agnes receive help from Chess' late son, who sends him a message with hints as to how to escape Christmasland along with several magic balloons filled with an imaginary lighter-than-air gas Chess told his son a story about.
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  • The Con: The con-man produced several; a sugarcane field in Cuba in a swamp, a fish-cannery that ended up selling rotting fish, the same fish mixed with horse manure to create a "miracle fertilizer", and most crucially for the story, a Christmas-themed amusement park. Through misfortune, Manx and his family wound up falling for almost all of these - and the one they dodged produced the Wraith.
  • Crapsaccharine World: Christmasland. If you're an adult, anyways.
  • Creepy Child: The children of Christmasland are nightmarish, vampire-like creatures.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: The con-man who sells Charlie Manx worthless stock in "Christmasland" in the prologue has a central role in the epilogue chapter, where it is revealed that he sincerely loves his wife and children. This still doesn't make him particularly sympathetic, however, since he prefers to support his family by running cons rather than making an honest living, and we see several times that his actions destroy several other families and result in many needless deaths, about which he is always flippant. And that's before he crosses paths with Charlie Manx and unwittingly sends him on the path to what will become Christmasland...
    • Charlie is very loving towards his two daughters, more so than their mother and clearly the favored parent given what they do to her after succumbing to the Wraith's curse.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Even though he turns them into monsters, Manx is disgusted at those who would abuse a child sexually.
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  • Hates Being Touched: Dewey gives Manx a big hug. Manx seems less than thrilled.
  • It's All About Me: After the "disappearance" of his son, the con-man puts his wife in a hospice and his daughter in an orphanage feeling it will be "better" for them.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: The Ph.D., fed up with the con-man, cons him into giving up proof of every single con he's ever pulled to a woman who has every reason to hate him and delivers him into Manx's hands as revenge for both setting him up to be arrested in his place and railroading his son to the electric chair for a crime he didn't commit.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: The con-man steals a large amount of money, destroys countless families, and unwittingly sets Charlie Manx on a path that sees his wife dead, his children turned into soulless monsters and Manx himself become an ageless demon. By the end of the story, Manx has made sure that the con-man has suffered an appropriate comeuppance. With interest.
  • Looks Like Orlok: Charlie Manx often looks like this from a distance. It's especially apparent at the start of the first chapter when his passenger still looks human, by the end he once again looks like a normal human while it is the child who now looks like a demon, implying a connection.
  • Loyal Phlebotinum: Sykes attempts to steal the Wraith after blowing Charlie's brains out. The attempt revives Charlie, who proceeds to take control of the car and kill Sykes with a sudden brake.
  • May–December Romance: Chess confesses Agnes he's come to love her a little bit.
  • Mental World: Chess works out that Christmasland is this for Manx - the children he brings in are the only things he didn't create, and he needs them as batteries to keep the place running.
  • Never Mess with Granny: Agnes, one of the two guards, is an older woman - who refuses to take any of Sykes' shit and puts the fear of God in him. She's also the only one from the transport to survive the experience and return to the real world.
  • Off-into-the-Distance Ending: Chess and Agnes successfully escape Christmasland with the help of Chess' late son's magic balloons; he drops her in the real world and chooses to use the balloon to try and reach for his son.
  • Rape as Backstory: Charlie is raped as a child by one of his mother's 'clients'.
  • Start of Darkness: The first issue serves as this for Manx as we see effectively see his entire life leading up to him being the monster seen in NOS4A2.
    • The girl he is transporting in the first issue returns in the fourth; not only is she one of those who most viciously attacks Dewey, but it is implied that Dewey had molested her before Charlie took her away to Christmasland.
  • Thinking Up Portals: Anyone traveling on the Wraith's back cannot reach out to Manx when he's driving - their hands simply disappear at the divide and appear from behind.
  • Token Good Teammate: Chess. Unlike Sykes, a vicious carnival geek, and Dewey, a rapist Hollywood agent, he's a father who attacked the doctor who callously let his son die.
  • Unreliable Narrator: When Manx tells his life story, he glosses over everything that happens between his rape and appearing at another city over four hundred miles away, not saying he exerted his budding Mental World powers to brutally kill everyone in his home town.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: The con-man who bilks Charlie Manx by selling him phoney shares in a "Christmasland" resort not only directly causes the events which lead Manx to become the monster he ends up being, but it turns out that several of his previous scams also unwittingly destroyed Manx's life prior to this. He also conned the man who previously owned the car that became the Wraith, which became the Wraith after the previous owner killed himself and his family in it after the con wiped them out financially.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: Christmasland serves as an extension of Manx's subconscious.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Charlie truly believes that he is protecting the children that he takes away to Christmasland and may not even be fully aware of their transformation and how it is sustaining his life and restoring his youth.