- Seidr #1
- Wickid Publishing
- Co-created & Written by Michael Nunneley
- Co-created & Illustrated by Tosin Awosika
- Letters by Guido Martinez
- Edited by Russ Pirozek
Vikings are pretty hot right now. The big screen is carrying The Northman, starring Alexnder Skarsgård & directed by Robert Eggers, a film that’s getting some great critical buzz. Small screens are bringing shows like Vikings, & The Beforeigners to an audience hungry for Norse action & fantasy. And all of the table-top roleplayers out there might be interested in the growing number of game settings & supplements available for the ever popular 5e system.
Now the folks with indie label Wikid Publishing have thrown a horned helm into the ring with a Norse themed horror mini-series. The first of three, Seidr #1: Völva (a Viking seeress or priestess) opens the story of King Ingvar with a man on trial. Having led his forces in a victory against the Danish city of Iskyst, a battle that’s earned many warriors of both sides a place in Valhalla, Ingvar finds himself in a pickle. Björn, fellow warrior and trusted friend, stands accused of murder most heinous and Ingvar, his own hands not wholly clean, sits in judgment.
Folks, I love indie comics. The creative minds working with the smaller publishers are taking risks and making things that I don’t think we’d ever see from the Big 2. In Seidr, we’re given all of the violence we could ask for in a story about a king whose built his reign around the regular raiding of neighboring cities. He’s lived by sword & seax, he’s risen to great heights, and he’s balanced it all on the ever-shifting favor of the gods. Not happy to stop there, which is great because that story has been done to death, co-creators Michael Nunneley & Tosin Awosika have expanded the trope to bring in elements of Shakespearean tragedy and supernatural horror.
I wasn’t sure about Nunneley’s choices in the first half of the issue, as he went with a first-person narrative to introduce characters & setting. It’s done in a voice-over delivered by King Ingvar as he lays out the story leading up to Björn’s trial. Usually, I’m not a big fan of stories being told like this, but a few pages in it started to click for me. Nunneley snuck his narrative by me as Ingvar gives testimony, and the comic shifts from straight-forward action into supernatural mayhem. I can’t say that I was “all in”, as I still missed getting to know characters through their dialogue as well as their actions, but Nunneley makes it work long enough to keep me reading into the second half of the book. That’s where things pick up, the first-person narrative stops, and we start to see the true direction of this bloody tragedy.
Tosin Awosika, co-creator and artist on this twisted tale, picks up the themes of the story very well. While not completely polished, Awosika’s sense of action and timing are solid, a really good base to build on, especially in the full-page spreads. Where I would love to see Awosika focus is in the smaller moments, particularly the facial expressions of his characters, to really push his work up the scale. As it is, he carries his reader through Braveheart levels of carnage in the depictions of large-scale battles, using motion blurs to show the dynamics of large groups of bodies clashing together. I’m also impressed with Awosika’s use of perspective, the shading being all that keeps some of the panels from reaching real depth, and his handle on body mechanics in the action scenes.
Another thing I liked was in the use of sound effects to blur some of the more graphic aspects of the book. A well placed “SHLUKT” can keep a decapitation from edging over from PG-13 territory into a solid R. I’m not sure if credit for that bit toes to letterer Guido Martinez or if it’s the work of Awosika. Even if it isn’t, Martinez deserves a nod for his work in the rest of the book. As could be expected, with a chunk of the narrative told in the first-person, there are a lot of words needing to be laid out. Martinez handles the job well, keeping everything organized and not letting the talking get in the way of the illustrations.
As a small press title, Seidr has a lot going on. There’s romance, betrayal, a woman scorned, and bloodthirsty revenge… an abundance of themes and story elements added to a comic already thick with action & horror. All told with a promise of more to come, maybe more impressive with its lack of polish, this is a good addition to the reading list of anyone looking for something a little different.
Final Score: 10/13