Bloody murder and thievery. Just your average day in Viking issue 1
Viking issue 1
by Ivan Brandon and Nic Klein
It’s been trailed as a “9th Century Crime Book” and on the strength of just this first issue Viking seems to have a lot going for it.
It’s wonderfully no-concept simple stuff. No high art here, no deeper meaning and pretty much summed up by that striking cover above. Two brothers, one nasty, the other dangerous and nasty, fighting, thieving and murdering their way through life. The brothers are Egil and Finn who pitch up with family between raids and this time find themselves on the receiving end of murderous retribution for a particularly vicious bit of thievery at the beginning of the comic.
But the lack of high end concept isn’t a problem. It’s a straight Viking saga, packed with blood and gore and just works as what it is. That Ivan Brandon manages, with so few pages, to make us keep turning those pages is a sign of some nice writing. That he manages to get the simple plot moving and introduce some depth is even better. He introduces us to the brothers, makes us genuinely interested in their family and then shocks us with the consequences of their actions that may well prove a starting point for the longer story from next issue. Along the way we meet King Bram The Quiet and his daughter, whose lives will no doubt be colliding with our two murderous and presumably vengeful brothers in issues to come. We even get some nice bits of not exactly authentic dialogue and a couple of good comedy turns….
(“Ah, Management”. Not exactly what you’d consider authentic 9th Century dialogue but sod it, we’ll bend the linguistic rules for a good gag. From Viking #1 by Brandon and Klein.)
The first thing you’ll notice with Viking isn’t the story though, no matter how simplistically effective it may be. No, the very first thing is the actual physicality of the comic; slightly, but significantly bigger than your usual comic, designed to look more European, with a flat matte feel to the pages and art that’s a strange amalgam of Vertigo-esque, Bisley-like and Heavy Metal-lite. The mix of techniques and styles, fully painted one panel, scratchy pencils showing through the next, letraset toning backgrounds the next and so on, shouldn’t really work, but Nic Klein manages to make it gel far more than it should. It’s an impressive debut issue from this new artist.
The comparison between this and the recent Vertigo Northlanders is almost unavoidable. After all, how often do you get two Viking sagas running concurrently? I liked Northlanders (review is here) but Viking, with it’s similar tone but slightly more straightforward approach wins out in the best Viking category of some imaginary competition. One issue may not be enough to judge it properly, but on the basis of these first 20 odd pages it’s a bloody good start and certainly does what all good first issues should; makes you want to read on, frustrated and annoyed that it’s going to be at least a month before you can get your hands on the next issue.
Vikings Issue 2 is out in June.
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