book review: the cross and the hammer (northlanders vol. 2)

The Cross and the Hammer is a self-contained Viking story that is less about a Viking and more about an Irishman who’s murdering his way through the countryside trying to kill off all the occupying Norsemen he can find to save his daughter and his homeland. It’s really violent. The Norseman who’s tracking him is well-educated and sends lots of letters back to his king who is fighting a war while he looks for this killer. There’s a very interesting father-daughter relationship going on, which is different from the Bonnie and Clyde stuff from Metal. It isn’t my favourite Northlanders book but there’s nothing wrong with it.

book review: metal (northlanders vol. 5)

Metal is the fifth volume of Brian Wood’s excellent Northlanders series. As per usual, it’s got multiple stories in the book, each one with a different illustrator. I wasn’t such a huge fan of the story about the merchant captain who took his boat on a voyage of exploration instead of trade. I mean, it wasn’t bad or anything; it just didn’t grab me the way the big story, Metal, did.

Metal was about a crappy blacksmith who’s chosen by one of the old gods (while he’s tripping out on hallucinogens) to stop his village from bowing down and letting the Christians have their way with them just because they’ve got sacks of money. He rescues a woman the Christians are holding and then burns everything down. The two of them head off like an ancient day Bonnie and Clyde. They’re pursued by a hired sword who takes his job very seriously, and it’s violently excellent.

One thing I love about this series is how it is not tied to any sort of chronology. There are hundreds of years separating different stories, but they’re all Viking tales. It also means they’re easy books to recommend since you don’t need to read them in any really specific order.

book review: blood in the snow (northlanders vol 3)

Blood in the Snow is part of Brian Wood’s Viking comic series, Northlanders. It’s a collection of short stories set in different time frames. One is about three women fighting a pillaging horde, one is about a Saxon boy who hates his father and his Nailed God religion, and one is about a duel.

All three of the stories are good, but the duel one is my favourite, probably because it doesn’t show the story, just this fight. The coolness is all about the narrator’s background and context for how these two clan champions are fighting. It oozes research, but also a wry modern tone (with images of the old ultra-violence). So good. Brian Wood just writes awesome stuff and all his artists in here work really well.

book review: sven the returned (northlanders vol 1)

Brian Wood writes good comics. His book DMZ is one of my favourites. I knew he wrote a Viking book too but I don’t really have a huge hankering in my heart for Vikings. On the cover of Sven the Returned there’s a quote saying “Finally, Vikings done right!” I have never really felt the lack, nor have I seen Vikings done poorly, so yeah. But I like Wood’s characters and reading it from the library required little from me. If I was going to read Viking comics Northlanders would be the ones I’d read.

This book is about a guy Sven from the Orkney islands returning home to claim his inheritance from his scheming uncle who stole it. There’s a lot of killing people with swords and arrows and shit. It covers a lot more time than I would have expected, and I gather that the later story arcs aren’t Sven’s further adventures.

Reading it though, I couldn’t put the roots of comics in pulp fiction out of my head. I suppose it’s the Watchmen effect, like how in that world they had Pirate comics instead of superheroes. And I read Old West comics. I don’t know. I just felt like I was in some other world where Viking comics were the norm for tales of people being badass.

Man, I haven’t been able to write a coherent review or anything else in months. I’m sorry.