TAKE A STAB AT THESE VIKING THEMED COMIC BOOKS

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Northlanders If you're a big fan of Vikings as well as the whole hullabaloo surrounding Norse mythology, then I'm sure you will agree with me when I say you couldn't be living in better times. Nowadays we have great Viking shows on TV (such as the History Channel’s hit series, Vikings), which of course is accompanied by Viking themed comic book movies (Thor: Ragnarok), animated films (How to Train your Dragon), Video Games (Rune), and even some amazing Viking slots (Ka-Ching!). But, more importantly than that, the world of comic books and graphic novels have also embraced the Nordic myths, telling us engrossing stories of legendary warriors and vengeful gods.


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While some of these graphic stories involve supernatural aspects and take considerable liberties with their myths and historical source material, many of them tell the tales of heroic real life warriors, whose courage and larger than life feats were enough to immortalize them into legend. Others have chosen to create all new characters that reflect the Viking spirit and use them to create intriguing sagas set in Viking-lore. So let’s take a look at some of the best Viking themed graphic novels and comic books that are sure to please the inner Viking in you.


Northlanders
Northlanders (Brian Wood, 2008 to 2012)

Without a shadow of a doubt, superstar graphic novelist, Brian Wood, has produced some of the best work in his career with his 50 issue saga, Northlanders. Widely regarded as the best Viking comic in modern times, Northlanders is an anthological series that, rather than focusing on the adventures of just a handful of heroes, tells the stories of dozens of different characters throughout his fictional Viking Age.

Although the stories and chronology of Brian's Viking Age may be fictional, he clearly did his homework when it comes to incredibly detailed historical research, which he uses to expertly root the modern sensibilities of his stories of mystery, revenge, survival, and conquest in a fully realistic Viking setting. He even goes as far as to use actual historical events as a backdrop to his tales, such as the violent clash between the Norse and Christian regions throughout the European continent.

What’s most impressive about Wood’s gritty sagas, however, is how each story manages to be completely unique in its perspectives, tone, themes, and even art, as each saga is illustrated by a different artist, including Davide Gianfelice, Ryan Kelly, and Leandro Fernandez.


Vinland Saga
Vinland Saga (Makoto Yukimura, 2005 to present)

Vinland Saga is an award winning historical manga adventure written and illustrated by Makoto Yukimura, the creator of the highly acclaimed Planetes manga and anime series. Spanning 19 volumes so far, Vinland starts out in England, right before the beginning of the reign of the Danish King Canute the Great, and tells the story of Thorfinn, a teenage Viking warrior and explorer who is looking to avenge the death of his father. Joining a group of Viking mercenaries led by Askeladd, his father’s murderer, he is swept up in the Danish invasion of London, only to end up kidnapping Prince Canute, who they soon decide to groom to succeed his father as king.

While Vinland Saga features most of the traditional components of a battle manga, what makes this saga even more special is the addition of multiple layers of medieval politics and intrigue, all of which Yukimura has gone through great lengths to make historically accurate. It’s magnificent storytelling, beautiful art, and the overall scope of its work has won this manga the Grand Prize in the manga division of the Japan Media Arts awards, as well as the 36th Kodansha Manga Award for Best General Manga in 2012.


Viking
Viking (Ivan Brandon and Nic Klein, 2009 to 2010)

Arguably the most visually striking Viking comic ever made, Viking tells the story of brothers Egil and Finn, two criminal Vikings who make a living by raiding spoils directly from other warriors in their tribe. Looking to make their way up the criminal food chain, the brothers make the ill-advised decision of killing a group of Vikings led by a warrior named Knut, and soon find themselves in trouble after Knut’s brother comes back looking for revenge. 

While this comic unfortunately lasted only five issues and its story was left un-concluded, what really merits its inclusion on this list is the innovative way in which it portrays the story as a modern crime saga, with its art framing it as though it was a Tarantino-like action movie. In fact, this comic was so popular and highly anticipated, that its first issue was sold out before it even hit the stands.


Head Lopper
Head Lopper (Andrew MacLean, 2013)

Like the title of this comic suggests, there is indeed plenty of head lopping and free flowing blood in this super stylish Viking fantasy action series. With a style that can only be described as a combination of Samurai Jack, medieval RPGs, and a touch of Adventure Time, MacLean’s Head Lopper is the irreverent tale of Norgal, a Viking warrior that travels throughout the land, fighting men and monsters alike. Accompanied only by a severed head of Agatha the Blue Witch, Norgal is a righteous warrior who fights injustice and evil through his preferred method: decapitation.

Despite the original volume of Head Lopper being self-published by MacLean himself, in 2015 it was picked up by Image Comics, where 6 more volumes were eventually published to great reception.


Thor: God of Thunder
Thor: God of Thunder (Jason Aaron, 2012 to 2014)

Last, but certainly not least, we must make an honorable mention to the most famous of all comic book Nordic gods: The god of thunder himself, Thor.

While in the Marvel comics, Thor is actually a warrior from the planet Asgard, it is undeniable that the old Nordic myths have inspired a great part of the character and his story-lines throughout the years. Thor: God of Thunder, is one such tale, which finds several versions of our hero from different ages trying to solve the mystery of the God Butcher, one of these tales even taking place in the Viking Age.

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