I got this on a whim. It was ten bucks, and even though I’m not huge on historical fiction or Vikings in general (though Crichton’s book Eaters Of The Dead was fantastic), I’m a diehard Brian Wood nerd, if you didn’t already know that.
Holy shit, am I glad I picked this, the first Northlanders trade, up. Gianfelice’s art is great as usual, but Wood’s writing is phenomenal. There’s no fat here in terms of what you’d find in a “historical fiction”-style story/narrative, you’re thrown straight into the action of what, in the end, boils down to a down-and-dirty story of revenge and self-understanding. It’s not trying to be a grandiose and wide-reaching drama, it’s ugly and bloody and up-close like the way Sven stabs his enemies in the head on the battlefield.
Did I mention that it’s bloody and violent and dirty and filthy? You can tell that Wood’s done his research on outfits and landscapes and historical references. I’ll say it again, this isn’t trying to teach a history lesson, but it is using a historically rich area and time in the past as a setting for a story that’s universal in fiction writing, so if you’re interested in learning something about Vikings this really isn’t that sort of (comic) book. This is if you’re interested in reading a really good story against a backdrop that more than likely you don’t really know, which adds a unique spin on things.
I know there’s been some internet bitching about the way the dialogue is actually quite modern, but I don’t mind because as I’ve heard Wood describe it, making it sound “old-fashioned” and “Thor-like” just sounds stupid so if you’re gonna assume you’re reading a translation, it might as well sound natural and informal, like spoken modern English. My only confusion is at the end and even then it’s slight and I get the gist of it even if I don’t get the minute detail. I’ve probably re-read this a few times and I’ve had it for less than a month.
I’m seriously considering trying to follow Northlanders now, which says something as I only really consider a few titles these days worth following at all in any consistent aspect (one of which is another Wood title, DMZ).
So yeah, Vertigo robs me again of my hard-earned dollars with their awesomeness.