There Will Be Blood Indeed

Northlanders book 2 cover

This is a little embarrassing to admit, but after I bought and read Northlanders Book One: Sven the Returned sometime back in May I liked it so much that I was eager to purchase and read Book Two. I was fairly certain my friend who recommended it to me (Andrew) told me that there was more than just that one book currently available at the time. I also somehow remembered looking it up on Amazon.com and seeing it for sale there as well.  I was in the area of a local comics store last Thursday and decided to stop in and see if they finally had Northlanders Book Two in stock.  They did, and I picked it up. It wasn’t until doing the smart thing of looking it up on vertigocomics.com that I realized it was just released the day before I bought it. I’m just glad I didn’t angrily ask why they didn’t have it at any of the places I looked.

Northlanders Book 2: The Cross + The Hammer is a story of two men on opposite sides of warring nations that takes place in Ireland 1014 A.D.  The Cross is a man named Magnus who is a native to Ireland and is traveling the land killing the foreign Norsemen that he believes are ruining his country and his people. Tagging along with Magnus is his daughter Brigid, a young girl whom Magnus believes he is somehow helping by eliminating the Norse. The Cross is Lord Ragnar Ragnarsson, a tracker who vows to his king to put a stop to the murders of his countrymen by finding and eliminating Magnus.

YAY:

  • At first I thought I liked the art of Sven the Returned better, but the more I analyzed it and then compared the two, the more I realized the art in this book seems more real and gritty. The art in The Cross + The Hammer is a lot more detailed; while Sven the Returned tends to have a cartoon-ish feel to it at times.
  • The action is great and usually quite brutal.  This really takes Vertigo’s idea of comics and books for mature readers and runs with it. If you liked Sven the Returned for the story and the violence then you’ll appreciate The Cross and The Hammer for even more violence and an intriguing story.
  • The story does a great job of creating two strong characters playing a game of cat and mouse. ‘The Hammer’ is on a mission to capture ‘The Cross’ by any means necessary in order to stop him from murdering any more of his fellow Norsemen.  Throughout the story Brian Wood creates a ‘relationship’ between the two men that rivals some of the best fugitive stories.  If you think it’s a little light on story and more heavy on the violence at first like I did, the fifth part is where the story really starts to come together and you realize just how good the writing is.

NAY:

  • With six issues and 144 pages put into this release for fifteen dollars I can’t help but feel a little cheated seeing as Book One: Sven the Returned was eight issues and  196 pages for ten dollars. I know the first book received glowing reviews and really gave Northlanders the credibility it deserves, but this is two issues less content for five dollars more.

While I still think $15 is a little pricey for this book in comparison to the previous book, if you think about it mathematically you save three dollars by buying them in one concise collection.  Also what you’ll find inside Book Two is completely worth the money you’ll spend on it.  This is a great story with great art and I’m proud to have it as a part of my budding collection

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