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VIKINGS #1 Review – Read, Raid, Rule

by on May 3, 2016
 

With the tenth episode of Vikings season 4 coming to a riveting conclusion on History, we would normally have a long wait until the heart of winter brings us the next instalment by Emmy Award-winning Michael Hirst. But it would seem that the gods are on our side! Vikings is set to resume the second half of its fourth season in 2016 and, in addition to this news, good fortune rains upon us all as Titan Comics rolls out a new VIKINGS comic book series, (available now!).

In VIKINGS, we follow Ragnar—the viking hailed as the first from legend—not as a main narrator, but certainly at the centre of consciousness, cause and effect. The story picks up smoothly between the second and third season and eases the reader in by calling back key conflicts to trigger your memory (such as Rollo caught “sinning against” a Lady in Wessex and Floki’s discomfort at his friends’ easy forgetfulness of their gods, their women and their loyalties).

Most of the story in Wessex is seen from Floki’s point of view, offering insight into the current events in a reflective format, helping to anchor the reader in the timeline of the show. For those who don’t watch Vikings, Floki’s inner dialogue offers background on each of the characters closest to him. (As a keen fan, I was disappointed in how this took up time in the story but of course, it’s necessary to ensure that all readers understand the relationship between each of the characters into whom they will be investing their time.)

The story truly does a good job of situating the reader in all of the points of contention already established up to this point in the show in a relatively short span of time. We get to see the vikings in action as well, fighting some Christians (perhaps their favourite pastime) and fraternizing with others.

We also get a glimpse of life in Kattegat with Aslaug overseeing her husband’s duties while he is away and as a result, an impressive show of judgement in true Viking style, the sort of traditional element I hope we will be more privy too in issues to come. Despite her best efforts, tensions quietly rise within the village and the Seer—the oracle—delivers a cryptic message regarding the mounting issue.

The art style of the comic book is drawn differently depending on what is happening in the story. In Kattegat, where the characters are often set close to fires and overcast light, the colours appear softer, more rounded. In Wessex, a battle leads to the lines being harsh but detailed, during negotiations, sometimes wispy but firm, providing only as much detail as necessary during a dialogue and expertly matching the pace of the show.

When all too soon the issue came to an end, I was beyond ready for what the next page would bring. We leave off on a somewhat shocking proposal made to Ragnar by Ecbert, king of Wessex, leaving Rollo and Floki affronted.

For this first issue, I give VIKINGS #1 four out of five stars. They truly captured the essence of the Vikings TV show in a way that did it justice in this new format.

VIKINGS is penned by Doctor Who writer, Cavan Scott, with art by X-Men, Spider-Man and Batman alum, Staz Johnson.

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