Image Comics 2016
Created & Written by Brian Wood
Created & Illustrated by Garry Brown
Coloured by Dave McCaig
Letters and Production by Steve Wands
Meet Magnus the Black, neither clean nor sober, neither Christian nor Pagan, but a man true to his word. When a ranking official under his care is brutally murdered, he's prepared to hunt the killers to the frozen tip of Norway, religious war be damned.
What is it about Brian and these types of stories that I find to be so damn good? I mean the Vikings are a great people and they’ve been vastly ignored by American culture till of late sure but what Brian brings to the table with them continues to amaze me. Okay so by nature you expect the stories to be violent and they are but this time around with the “invading” Christians the violence reaches new levels. There’s so much about this story and the way it’s introduced that easily demonstrates not only Brian’s talent but that of Garry and David’s as well. It’s really very captivating and thought provoking in ways I hadn’t been expecting it to be.
I love the openings, yes two one is a page of narration the other just visuals of a burial and both have great poignancy about them.
I’m almost at a loss for how powerful this is to me as we see the Christians deal with non convertors and the narration of Magnus you really get a sense of not only what’s happening in this place but of the man himself. Hired on a job to take a man along the Black Road seems to be either beneath him or considering who hired him a death wish. Either way that he takes this job and as we learn why this man becomes so much more of an enigma. He’s thoughtful and open to learning but always wary of the things he’s told it’s a great way to really introduce such a complex individual.
Kudos too for Kirra the Blacksmith. Not what I would have thought Kirra to be and that alone is fantastic.
The time Magnus and his charge spend on the road is the kind of writing that we love and get into but don’t necessarily expect in these stories. There’s a maturity here that took me by surprise to go along with the usual repartee. The first taste of action we get along the Black Road goes nothing like I was prepared for. The action is at times spectacular and glories until it isn’t and the first of what i’m assuming are many twists and turns occur.
There’s a tenderness here that balances out the harsh reality and it comes in the most delightfully unexpected form. This man who hasn’t had the easiest life and doesn’t know whether to join or fight the Catholics is on the journey of a lifetime and we have no idea how it’s going to go for him. There’s no clear cut way he leans in his thinking and that’s he is this open to what he doesn’t know and longs to learn as much as he can is what makes this so much more than it is. I have no idea where Brian is taking this and honestly i’m not sure I care I just want to join Magnus on his journey.
Garry has such an eye for storytelling visually. His use of pages and panels feel like storyboards for a movie as they show the focal points that mean the most through both Magnus eyes and the directors. With his ability to fill pages without the need for words to convey exactly what needs to be seen and felt is amazing to me. He and Dave made scenes that emote when the rains fall you almost feel the drops hitting you.
Another what should be an award winning series for this team.