Saturday, April 14, 2012

Northlanders #50

Written by Brian Wood
Art by Danijel Zezelj

The final story arc of Northlanders mirrored its demise as a series in many ways.  Over the last nine issues, Wood has told the story of the Hauksson clan in three-issue story arcs that have spanned hundreds of years of life in Iceland, from some of its earliest settlers to the end of its independence in the thirteenth century.

For this last third of his trilogy, Wood has focused on Oskar Hauksson, a man whose desire for glory in battle is out of place with the time he lives in, and the political climate of the day.  As such, his actions bring ruin to his family and their holdings, as the squabbling clans of Iceland are at least able to come together in their contempt of him and his actions.

With enemies and circumstance surrounding him, Oskar bows out quietly, much as this Vertigo series has.  Northlanders was one of the most unique comics Vertigo has ever published.  It's been a series of unrelated story arcs set in a variety of Northern European countries spread throughout many years.  Effectively, it was an impressionistic chronicle of Viking history, told through the lens of modern language and sensibilities.  It was never dull story-wise, and the rotating stable of some of the best Vertigo and independent artists in the business kept the book looking fresh and exciting month after month.

Of course, as it wasn't an example of superhero fan fiction, it didn't have much of a chance of a lengthy survival, because unfortunately, literary, beautiful, and occasionally challenging comics don't sell all that well these days (if they ever did).  Still, this is a project that Brian Wood can be very proud of, as should anyone who contributed to it.  I feel that I learned a lot from this comic, and I enjoyed it a great deal throughout its four years of publication.  I will definitely miss it.

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