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Vikings in Graphic Novels

Page history last edited by Sigren Gram 14 years, 6 months ago


Vikings, specifically Viking culture, pop up in Graphic Novels from the land of the rising sun all the way to the Wild West.  You can find everything from vague references and similarity's to complete fabrications based on the original subject.  You can also find representations from Viking culture within a variety of different sources within the same virtual medium. 

Going from such things as the Thor comic book in America to Oh! Megami-sama from Japan, even so far as to join the web-comic ranks in Sparkling Generation: Valkyrie Yuuki.

Each individual series takes what it wants from the mythos, gives it a spin from the local popular culture and adds to it.  Even going so far as to create its own mythos from seeds based in truth.

They don’t all range into the fantastic and mythic of might and magic.  There are other series based in science, attempting to explain away the origins of gods and demons, such as the Stargate series based on the popular TV show.  Or those based in ancient times within the realm loosely held by the Vikings of yore like Vinland Saga, a semi historical Japanese Manga.



American Comics



The Mighty Thor      Marvel comics seem to have a huge stock in Viking trade thanks to The Mighty Thor series of comics.  It has allowed a foothold for many of the other figures from Norse mythology to show up in various other places within the Marvel universe.  This stretches to gods such as Loki as well as the Norns.  On the other side, Loki’s followers the Frost Giants move to begin Ragnarok. (Loki has made appearances in Spiderman as well as the off color and unusual Deadpool.)  Much of the story is based around Thor’s legendary hammer Mjolnir.  While there seems to be less of a mythological facet to the story due to the nature of the origins within the mythos built up for the new version of Thor, it still has its roots in the legends of the ancient Vikings.





 Viking       Image comics have a Norse based comic called Viking that is owned by its writer Ivan Brandon.  The plot is apparently a sort of Sopranos in the Viking world.  Day to day life of a Norseman trading in goods acquired from going a-viking.  There is also dark humor within the story, ranging from grotesque to just plan gore type humor.









Cowoboy Ninja Viking

      A popular idiom within comics as well as popular culture in general is the rock-paper-scissors style of using popular ideas like Vikings, Pirates, Ninjas and Cowboys.  The comic Cowboy Ninja Viking takes these concepts in an interesting direction.  The author and artist decided to create a comic based on the concept that three cultural ideas could exist within one body as different personalities.  They ran with the idea and Image comics picked it up as a regular series.  The series follows a single individual called a "Triplet" that has been given three extra, distinctly different, personalities through psychological means.  As you can guess the three are a Cowboy, a Ninja and a Viking.  The three personalities get along in a very strange and twisted way as they are recruited by the man who made them to help kill a fellow triplet that has gone rouge and is killing people for some nefarious reason.






Northlanders      If you enjoy crime saga and Vikings there may be a comic just for you.  It’s called Northlanders and is a crime saga set in the age of Vikings.  Written and drawn by Brian Wood and published by DC under their sub group of Vertigo, it’s a series based loosely around historical events.  It’s an ongoing series that seems to be published in separate arcs, each one covering a different situation with different characters.  Only the first three arcs are out at this date but there are eight total planned, each a stand alone story of approximately eight issues long with a short two issue interlude between each main story.









Japanese Manga



 Ah! My Goddess     Within the Japanese medium of Manga (virtually identical to the comic books of America) there are a number of places where Norse heritage and mythos show up.  Such as the popular Ah! My goddess series.  The series is based around the Norns (The three fates of Viking lore: Past, Present and Future.) as well as the World Tree, Yggdrasill (a very holy ideal for the ancient Norse being the place that holds the world up).  The story centers around an average Japanese college student who is granted a wish by one of the three Norns.  His wish causes her to stay with him which puts into motion a great many events that cause chaos and disaster to fuel the story.






Vinland Saga Manga

      You can also find Manga that are very close to what one might consider a historical style, covering the daily life or adventures of Vikings.  One such example would be the series “Vinland Saga” which follows the story of a young man by the name of Thorfinn as he grows up under a dark and heavy cloud of fate.  The story doesn’t cover mythology very closely but it does depict several potential versions of battles that could possibly have happened.  It is unclear as to the factual nature of the series but the author does an intriguing job with the story.  The story is still ongoing with fifty-nine plus chapters at an average of twenty-five to thirty-five pages per chapter. 












http://static.minitokyo.net/view/39/03/95189.jpg            As with many Manga the Japanese don’t mind stretching what’s there to fit an idea.  It’s especially easy with Norse myths since it’s so broken to begin with.  But from that we come up with fun ideas like “The Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok” which is about Loki who’s been banished to earth to live as a human child.  Being bored, and loki, he decides to start a detective agency (probably to be contrary) where he specializes in paranormal cases.  Other Norse gods make appearances in the series, some to befriend others to attempt to kill him, mostly for hijinks and hilarity.  He spends most of his day’s with a pair of Japanese kids who help him in his endeavors.











Other Sources 



Valkarie Yuuki

       The Internet is an interesting source of self-published works in today’s age.  This includes web-comics such as Sparkling Generation: Valkyrie Yuuki which is produced by a person taking the name Kittyhawk.  The story is about a young man in a large city who loves anime.  He rents an interesting looking new series from a store one night and, in the classic manner of magical girl anime, he has a transformation which empowers him to fight off Ragnarok.  Together with Hermod, the trusty animal companion, they battle the forces of Surt and try not to let Loki mess things up to badly.  There are several interesting twists to the story but it’s something you should read for yourself.


Brat-Halla        Another web-comic based on Viking mythology would be Brat-halla by Jeffery Stevenson, Seth Damoose, and Anthony Lee.  It is based within the realm of the gods when the bulk of them are children; a family of gods led by Odin and Frigg as the parents.  The story is full of hijinks and silly fun around the adventures, trials, and tribulations of these child gods; including Thor, Loki, Hod, Balder, Odin and a slew of others.  Gods in elementary school and the teachers are the least of their problems.


http://www.gamingsanctuary.com/RagnarokTokyoPop.jpg            There is a Korean Manhwa (It’s the same as a Manga or Comic, only it comes from Korea) that is called Ragnarok.  This one is about a young man named Chaos who is an amnesiac orphan who has spent the time he can remember in the city of Fayon.  His travels begin with the young lady who is the daughter of the head Chieftain of Fayon who is something of a sorceress herself.  The story follows them as they are forced into a quest to save the world from Ragnarok.  The story and many of the characters and places are named after legendary Norse mythic gods and locations.  Some of the situations are modeled after what we know of the Norse fables as well. 










Other Related Points



Pirates Vs. Ninjas

      As mentioned above, there is the popular idea of using Vikings in a sort of Rock-Paper-Scissors contest within the comic book world.  Often times using them in concert with the common Pirates Vs. Ninja debate that is so loved in comics and on web forums.  In some cases even going so far as to calling Vikings a Triumph card in all competitions.  Such as when Antarctic press did Pirates Vs. Ninjas where the second series brought in Vikings as a villainous trump card.  They are still only a subset of the continuous Pirate Vs. Ninja debate that has raged for years.  Regardless they seem to be a rising power as something that neither side can defeat without joining forces.








             Vikings in and of themselves have become something of a popular culture for any series that wishes to promote a violent theme of battle and conflict involving historical figures.  The concept of a large hirsute man wielding a huge axe and wearing furs is a preferred concept that seems to be what drives sales and is the popular opinion of what a Viking is.  If that’s not to your taste there are plenty of sexy beautiful Viking women or Valkyrie’s willing to titillate you in dozens of other comics just waiting to be discovered.  On the other hand if you want to know more about what Vikings were really like try reading More Than Raiders.


Comments (4)

Answer Blip said

at 7:51 am on Jan 11, 2010

Kick ass page! Would love some help and your knowledge answering some of the questions about this at http://www.answerblip.com

Tim said

at 1:18 pm on Dec 13, 2009

There is a comic about Merlin battling Vikings. It's just called 'Merlin' it was written by Robin Wood and drawn by Enrique Alcatena. As far as I know it hasn't been translated from Argentinian into English, but the art and coloring is amazing. Really worth checking out.

Andrew said

at 11:58 am on Dec 12, 2009

I'm not sure if "idiom" is the word you should be using in that last section.

Tim said

at 6:52 pm on Nov 29, 2009

You might already be aware of these, but here are some more viking comics that are worth checking out:

Wolfskin (by Warren Ellis) - http://www.avatarpress.com/2009/10/21/wolfskin-volume-1/
Warren Ellis is really famous, but this comic is pretty crappy. The art is grossly detailed and violent.

Northlanders: A Crime Saga Set In The Viking Age (by Brian Wood) - http://northlanders.tumblr.com/
This is the best Viking comic I've read.

Cowboy Ninja Viking (by AJ Lieberman) - http://cowboyninjaviking.blogspot.com/
I haven't read this yet, because it is new and only a few issues have been released, but the art looks interesting.

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