I was late to the Northlanders party, and judging from the numbers for this book, I’m not the only one. And that’s a real shame.
I’m not one of those people who immediately gets interested in the story at the mention of pirates, monkeys and vikings. So when Brian Wood, writer of Local and DMZ, announced he was doing a monthly about vikings, I was naturally disappointed.
I’ve read somewhere online that Northlanders is a crime saga that happens to be set in the viking age, and is a great way of selling the story. And if that doesn’t work for you, consider picking up issue 17, “The Viking Art of Single Combat”, an extraordinary example of comic book storytelling. The entire issue is a single fight between two men, which by itself could be enormously entertaining with the right creative team (and paired with Vasilis Lolos on art, it is), but it’s Wood’s narration and point of view that really sells this one.
Page 18 hits all the right notes:
Artwise, I love Lolos ability to convey movement. The thickness of the lines and the clarity of the fight’s choreography makes the action feel real in a surprising way. You can really feel the energy of the fight and the eventual fatigue the longer it goes.
It’s the writing here that makes this page so successful for me. The language Wood uses is rich, and it does a superb job at making a viking as common and likable as a modern man, something I feel a lot of writers aren’t necessarily good at when tackling characters from the past. And I especially love the placement of those last two captions with the dark image of man getting ready to bring the ax down. It’s so effective.
Most importantly, removed from the rest of the book, I think the page works as a stunning piece of nanofiction that has a burst cultural quality with a solid emotional center.