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Vikings in Graphic Novels

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Saved by Rick Fehrenbacher
on December 8, 2009 at 9:20:36 pm


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: Valkarie 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



http://www.shockya.com/news/wp-content/uploads/thor_comic_book_cover.jpg Marvel comics seem to have a huge stock in Viking trade thanks to The Mighty Thor series of comics.   Which has allowed a foothold for many of the other Asgard 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.







 http://i.livescience.com/images/VikingTeaser.jpg                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             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 a dark humor within the story, ranging from grotesque to just plan gore type humor.













 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 idea that three idioms could exist within one body as different personalities.  They ran with the idea and Image comics picked it up as a regular series.












http://i.newsarama.com/images/northlanders_12-2.jpg 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




            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, the world tree, is a very holy ideal for the ancient Norse being the place that holds the world up).  The story centers around an average Japanese collage 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 for the story to be fueled on.


           You can also find Manga that are very close to what one might consider a historical style, covering daily life or adventures of a Viking.  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 of an average of twenty five to thirty five pages per chapter. 



Other Sources 



            The Internet is an interesting source of self-published works in today’s age.  This includes web-comics such as Sparkling Generation: Valkarie Yuuki which is a webcomic produced by a person calling themselves 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 the trusty sidekick 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.




            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 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.




Other Related Idioms



            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 and 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.


            Vikings in and of themselves have become something of a popular idiom for any series that wishes to promote a violent theme of battle and conflict involving historical figures.  The concept of a large hair-suit man wielding a huge axe and wearing furs is a sexy and violent idiom 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 Valkarie’s willing to titillate you in dozens of other comics just waiting to be discovered.



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