Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Viking, Volume 1: The Long Cold Fire Review (Ivan Brandon, Nic Klein)


It’s viking times and a buncha vikings are sat around eating meat. A coupla vikings rock up and kill some vikings. Smash cut to a family of vikings fishing with a horse’s head. Smash cut to a viking king with his viking daughter. Some bad stuff happens to the viking fishermen, the viking king falls out with his viking daughter. More vikings are slaughtered. That’s about it! The book is called Viking, Volume 1. 

Notice I didn’t use any names because I can’t recall any - the characters are that indistinct. They’re written very vaguely so as to all sound the same but they’re also draw similarly too and quite often it’s dark so it’s difficult to make out who’s who. It doesn’t help that characters from one set look similar to another either. The two vikings who kill other vikings at the start - are they the main characters? Does one of them get stabbed to death? What about the viking fisherman who looks like them - does he die or is he alive and teams up with the two vikings? No idea. 

And it doesn’t help that no plot emerges until halfway through the book. So writer Ivan Brandon wasted the first half of the book introducing a completely forgettable cast of characters before hurling the plot at the reader - great job! This plot, by the way, only involves about two-thirds of the cast introduced so no idea why we even had to read about those boring fishermen - unless the viking fisherman became part of the viking douches from the start? Yeah, this isn’t confusing. Then again this is optimistically labelled “Volume 1” so maybe the viking fishermen family play a part in later volumes - if they appear that is (this one was published in 2010 and no follow-up has been published since). 

Besides the awful character designs, the art is quite pretty - it’s very realistically drawn and looks well-researched. The colouring though is a bit inconsistent and random - let’s have a scene bathed entirely in red! Now yellow! Now back to normal! Now swirly paints! Etc. 

Ivan Brandon’s script is just terrible. He fumbles the characters, seems to have no idea what the plot is or where he’s going, and it reads like a jumbled mess of semi-formed ideas. By the time he figured out what he wanted to do - a half-hearted kidnap plot with a moronic romance tossed in because why not? - I’d lost all interest and was looking ahead to see how many pages were left before I could toss this crap aside (thankfully it wasn't many by that point). 

If you want to read good viking comics, Brian Wood’s Northlanders series is still the best by far - don’t bother with this hopeless nonsense.

Viking, Volume 1: The Long Cold Fire

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