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We Live in The Future
Viking: The Long Cold Fire by Ivan Brandon & Nic Klein
© 2013 James LaFond
2009, Image Comics, Berkeley California, oversized hardback graphic novel
This is the story of Finn’s quest to avenge his family, a brutal institution which he does not understand. He lives in exile with his grandfather and brothers and is bent on vengeance. It is also the story of King Bram the Quiet of the wolf-head cloak, and of his rebellious daughter.
There is some extreme brutality in this, including a Dark Age version of a snuff film. Viking is an unapologetic modern interpretation of Vikings from our own pop culture criminal perspective. This is the Viking seen through the prism of Scarface and Sons of Anarchy. I could not buy an ancient Norseman seeing the Viking life like this, but I’m not saying he’d object either. King Bram states early on that ‘We live in the future.’ And the narrative stays with that perspective.
As a knuckle dragger in terms of comic reading I found this to be very readable. In fact, the art is so prevalent and so illustrative that it carries the narrative more than the written word. The storyline is not particularly one to my liking, but I am odd there. Most people want kings, princesses, exiled princes etc. Since I’m so off base where the human narrative is concerned I have not factored the timeworn archetypical storyline into my rating.
I look at a comic in terms of the art and the dialogue, particularly the declarative statements. The art was evocative of dark northern climes. The action illustrations really reflect the chaos of small scale battle. The thing about the Viking setting that was most historically authentic in this treatment was that it was essentially strife at ‘gang level’. Perhaps that is why the authors used the modern gang template. This is not dueling or mass battle, but that horrific quasi-personal encounter in between.
I liked the miscellaneous collection in the back. My favorite scene comes early on when Finn and Egil converse with the survivor of the party they just butchered in a campfire ambush. Hrolf the prisoner asks what they mean by saying they are ‘men of nowhere’. Finn answers, “It means that others need less than they have.”
That’s a Viking.
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