Comics Features

REVIEW: Sagas of the Northmen: Book One

Written by Mark Warner

In September of last year, Sagas of the Northmen successfully reached its Kickstarter target, raising over $3,000 to get Sean Fahey‘s Viking anthology comic up and running. The book, by Black Jack Press, grabs you with its beautiful bronze cover, by Marcelo Basile, with a large striking Viking figure taking centre stage.

The first story, “Satan’s Horde”, written by Mark Wheaton is the story of the first Viking raid on the village of Lindisfarne, Northumbria, in the 8th century AD, and the catholic holy man who wishes God to smite the unrepentant, heathen sinners who have ruined his once peaceful village. When the raiding Vikings lay siege to the village, the priest thinks his prayers have been answered. The story is an actual historical event written brilliantly by Wheaton with a fantastic stark black and white art that is very similar to The Walking Dead.

Next up is “No King But The Law”, the story of Erik Magnusson, accused of killing Bjorn Heglund, and the punishment he had to endure for his crime. The beautifully done artwork looks like a Viking painting coming to life on the page.

After that is the intriguing, “Because It Is There”, which is the story of an unnamed Viking exploring the wider world, brought to life by Marcelo Basile. But the interesting part is that the script, written by Sean Fahey, is inspired by President John F. Kennedy‘s “We choose to go to the moon” speech. It’s not until you see the two together that you realized the similarities between what the Vikings did in exploring the unknown world back at the turn of the millennium, to the space race of the 1960s.

The next story, “The Dimming Spirit”, written by Tom Pinchuk, is about a shipwrecked Viking warrior being nursed back health by a kindly farmer, who may have an ulterior motive. The writing of “The Dimming Spirit” is fantastic, and the characters are brought to life in such a short space of time that you completely understand their motivations. The art by Ezequiel Rosingana is possibly the most classical comic book style in the book.

This story is followed by “Ascension”, by Derek Fridolfs and Ken Jones with art by Michael Kennedy. When Thorsten, the leader of a Viking community is killed in battle, the group must find a new leader and it falls to his young son, Agmund to take the lead, but some among the group don’t believe he has what it takes to protect the community. But when he stows away in his father’s funeral pyre, and is washed ashore somewhere strange, he discovers the strength to lead. The art is some of the most simple and bold in Sagas of the Northmen, but it loses nothing in its simplicity; the same goes for the writing, and it’s such a brilliant story, beginning with the feelings of loss and building up to Agmund growing into a leader much like King Leonidas in 300, that its possibly a better story for it.

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In contrast, “Heart Of Iron” has some of the most detailed imagery, thanks to artist Todor Hristov. Writer Susan Wallis tells the tale of Freydis, a Norse women and a fierce warrior, trying to save her settlement in Canada after a bad harvest threatens to wipe them out. The story takes place over two years, with the Norse settlers making peace with the indigenous people, but peace becomes strained over time. The story is again based on an actual Norse story, and it is so well researched that in a few years I’ll expect my children to be learning about Vikings from this comic.

The final story is “The Emperor’s Wineskins”, again by Sean Fahey, and Marcelo Basile. It’s the story of an attempt to assassinate Byzantium Emperor Basil II who surrounded himself with an army of Viking warriors. The Emperors disenfranchised guards are hired to make an attempt on his life. Based on actual events, the story is written brilliantly, with obvious love for the subject matter.

The stories are all fantastically well written and researched with each one getting better and better. The only one that seems a little out of place is “Because It Is There” just because of the mixture of space exploration. The story itself is still brilliant and totally fascinating, but it slightly takes you out of the historical feeling of the rest of the book. Nonetheless, this is still a fantastic collection of stories that you will want on your bookshelf.

So have you read Sagas of the Northmen? Or did you back it on its Kickstarter? What are your thoughts on it? Sound off in the comments or send us your thoughts on Twitter!

About the author

Mark Warner