by Ivan Brandon (writer), Nic Klein (art, letters, design), and Kristyn Ferretti (letters & design)

The Story: Finn and Egil face the consequences of their actions.

What’s Good: From its basic design to the artwork itself, this book is one of the most gorgeous comics on store shelves today.  The fact that this book is $2.99 is unbelievable.

The art is a perfect blend of painting, modern indie comic, and cartoonish; stylized and beautiful, it’s a sight to behold.  I love Klein’s mastery of lighting in the book; it’s clear that he’s painting a world without electricity, as when it’s night, one gets a real sense of the firelight that is relied upon as everything takes on a dark orange hue.  I also reallyenjoyed Klein’s use of color to depict mood, with everything going a light red in moments of tension or violence. With creative panel layouts and large, impressive splashes, this book does the painted form proud.

There is however a story at work here, as Brandon continues to establish the voices of his characters.  This month, we really get a sense of the “crime fiction” element of the tale.  King Bram sounds like a mob boss and Brandon’s depiction of the Viking lifestyle sounds increasingly like that of the gangster lifestyle taken up by immigrants in the early twentieth century.  The wild and naive ambitions of the young, the difficulty of leaving the life behind, and the Grandfather’s wish that his grandsons do not enter the life of crime carved out by their father all make this comic sound a hell of a lot like a gangster movie.  Brandon is clearly making his generic standing clear this month, and the comic is all the more intriguing for it.  Meanwhile, for the second month in a row, Brandon ends his book with a final scene that packs an emotional wallop.

What’s Not-So-Good: This is a quick read.  Gorgeous painted artwork and single page splashes unfortunately mean several pages with little dialogue.  This also unfortunately means that at the end of issue 2, we still don’t have a real idea of what the plot of the series is.  I just didn’t quite feel that enough happened in the span of these 22 pages.  At times I even felt like the comic became more of an artbook than a comic, which isn’t necessarily a good thing.  It felt as though the comic needed a few more pages to get more done or to flesh more out.  I like what we got but I feel that we needed more of it.  This comic just doesn’t seem to have established a direction for itself yet.

This normally wouldn’t be so annoying really, but the fact that Viking is a bi-monthly title makes it somewhat crippling.  Having waited two months to get an issue that still doesn’t see a major thrust is somewhat frustrating. So little happened this issue and we still will have to wait until the end of August for #3.

Conclusion: A solid book that nonetheless feels a little light.

Grade: C+

-Alex Evans