Viking #1 was a comic that took a number of people by surprise, an untested team on a new creator-owned book about vikings, in a market where even the sensational Northlander from Vertigo isn’t selling gangbusters. Oh and the comic is in a non-traditional format.
The team and publisher took the bright, if pricey step of printing copies for comic shop retailers to see before ordering. The gamble paid off, retailers were convinced, orders were good, reviews were fantastic, the books still sold out fast and went to second print instantly.
And this Wednesday, the due date for that difficult second issue, is also the day when 39 Marvel regular comic books (plus 14 variant covers and a bunch of trades) hit. That is a lot of shelf space with the Marvel logo staring out.
So this review is part of a series running today and tomorrow that highlight comics that might otherwise get squeezed off the shelf this Wednesday or Thursday.
Viking tells a tale we’ve become familiar with, that of modern organised crime, but in a world where there is much less of a structure to work with, where the kingdoms are not just part of the problem, they are the problem. It’s a primitive Godfather, with many of the themes familiar from such works, family, duty and the lineage of men.
And right from the beginning we’re hit with the theme of consequences, living with them, dealing with them, challenging them. We see consequences of the battle in issue 1, and the whole book looks at everyone dealing with their own particular brand, whether internally, expressed through the vivid colours and experimental storytelling, or with direct expressed language that Brian Bendis readers will much to appreciate. Hell, the first page and a half are speech balloons against a black back ground, before the art goes on its own twisted journey.
That this brutalised image of the past feels so familiar, is testament to the strength of this family saga, the same tensions and fights that feel so familiar turned not so much into subtest but into uber-text, fights with flaming hot swords, strikes from hammers and actual banishment.
And in the middle of it all, office politics.
This is a rich book, in expressed themes and well as layered colours. Dive in and be enveloped.
Viking #2 is by Ivan Brandon and Nic Klein and is published by Image Comics on Wednesday/Thursday priced at $2.99. Ghe second print of issue 1 is also still available.