Saturday, May 21, 2016

Black Road #1 Review

Black Road #1 from Image Comics -

    In medieval Norway, Christianization is well under way. A hulking Icelandic mercenary, Magnus the Black lives out his days after the loss of his beloved wife trying to survive, not siding with those resisting the Christian conquest, and too intrigued by the Christians and their God to side against them. When an intriguing Christian cardinal approaches him for help to secure safe passage north to the Hammaruskk Coast, Magnus begins a journey that can only be filled with danger, destruction and death, because the only way north is along the treacherous, deadly Black Road, a road from which none return. What could be so important that the cardinal would risk his life, and Magnus', to travel alone to the barren wastes of the northern lands? Will they be consumed by the cold, biting death that awaits on the Black Road?

   Brian Wood writes this moody, atmospheric Icelandic mystery tale. He provides us with a protagonist that captures your imagination in Magnus the Black. Magnus is powerful, but in him you sense loss, desperation, and weariness, all of which are amplified by the cold, barren, unforgiving lands that he inhabits. It all works together to create a sense of longing which is palpable. Wood gives us just a bit of backstory on Magnus, and fills in a bit more about him through deft internal dialogue - Magnus is a man of deep thought, but few actual words. He is wary, but intrigued by Christianity, and the little, unassuming cardinal who has just been thrust into his care. Nearly the perfect type of protagonist, Magnus attracts me: strong, silent, one who bears his pain well and is more that meets the eye. Garry Brown's kinetic, sketchy artwork is perfect, laying down deep expressive, weary lines in the faces of people, and along with Dave McCaig's colors, gives heft to the atmosphere of the oppressive world that Magnus and his supporting cast inhabit. This book attracts me, and piques my curiosity. I think that I'd like to travel with Magnus along the Black Road.

   This book is deeper than it seems, and asks many questions that I would love to see answered.

RATING: 9 out of 10.

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