The best thing about Northlanders is that there there isn't a trick to it. There's no shoe waiting to drop. It has a premise, and it sticks to it: vikings, damn it. Do you need more?
Brian Wood (DMZ) gives us a story about Vikings. The vikings don't sound like vikings, sure--they talk with modern affectation and phrasing, but that's less of a quirk and more of a device to get to the story. I have no doubt a writer like Wood could give us flowery Thor-esque sentences on each page, but that would get in the way of the characters. We're getting all the dialogue translated. I had originally heard this was the "gimmick" of the series, which couldn't be more hyperbolic. Wood is trusting us with this, putting it bluntly to his readers, These guys are from a long time ago, you know how they talk, lets move past that. So think of it less as "Oh, wow, vikings that sound like modern people!" and more that the babelfish has rooted in your brain.
Of course, these vikings have the mouths of sailors. R rated, kids.
The story is the prodigal son come home to a broken empire. It progresses in a perfect fantasy way, as our hero begins and plots his revenge, filling the clan with fear as he begins to slaughter them from the outskirts of their cities. You do not agree with Sven (our "hero) all the time, but you are always quietly hoping he wins.
The art by Davide Gianfelice is perfect for the tone of this piece. Where I might usually argue about extraneous lines, everything fits very neatly. No, not neatly. Grotesquely. Gianfelice isn't playing around in these panels. He's drawing men and women who are usually moments away from death, either their own or someone else's by their hand. He does so with a stern command of the line. Where other settings or stories might not call for the work here, it fits all too well in this story.
TL;DR Northlanders is an awesome, Game of Thrones-esque take on viking lore. Featuring fresh art and a modern voice, you really shouldn't miss it.
Northlanders is an ongoing comic written by Brian Wood, and drawn by Davide Gianfelice. It is published by Vertigo Comics. Buy it at your local comic shop, or support Spandexless by purchasing it from our Amazon web store