Thursday, July 1, 2010

Northlanders #29

Written by Brian Wood
Art by Fiona Staples

Some of my favourite issues of Northlanders have been the 'done-in-one' stories that Wood has used between longer arcs.  This issue, with art by the highly capable Fiona Staples, is the story of Dag, an aging Norse sailor who, in 760, decides to abandon the usual 'sea roads' on which he has spent twenty years carrying cargo and strike out west in search of something to provide his life with meaning.

This would predate the discovery of either Iceland or Greenland by the Vikings, and so Dag is the first to see these lands.  He shares with Storri, his first mate, his frustration with his life and industry, complaining about growing competition and population, and of the fact that the world seems increasingly small to him.  Wood has often managed, in this series, to show modern issues like globalization from an ancient perspective, and it is one of the things that I like most about this book.

Staples conveys both the madness that infects the men as their small company continues to cross the ocean in what is basically a row boat, and also the immensity of the ocean.  Her picture of volcanic Iceland is stunning.

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