Black Road Volume One: The Holy North by Brian Wood, Gary Brown, Dave McCaig, Steve Wands. Image, 2016. 97816321587.
Contains Black Road #1 – #5.
Brian Wood is one of my favorite comics creators, and his Vertigo series Northlanders was one of the best things he’s written, so there was no way I wasn’t going to pick this up. In Norway, in about the year 1000 A.D., the Christian conversion of Viking civilization is in full swing. Magnus the Black is just trying to keep his head down as he tries to decide whose side he’s on. He’s hired to escort a Roman cardinal on the Northern Road to Hammaruskk, “…a path
built of misery, sorrow, blood, and bile.” The Cardinal isn’t worried as he says he has a guardian angel. (His angel can’t stop his murder, but she does try to complete the Cardinal’s mission. And along the way she gets vengeance for him.)
Full of double crosses, murder, and gloriously bloody violence, this reminded me of the more brutal bits of Joe Abercrombie’s The Blade Itself. And it ends on a bit of a cliffhanger — I’m happy that there’s more coming.
PS: I highly recommend Wood’s current monthly comic from Dark Horse, Briggs Land, about a woman trying to take control of (and improve) the secessionist community her husband created, after her husband goes to prison. (Her husband isn’t happy about it, but luckily she has the support of most of her sons.)
PPS: You should also try Wood’s Rebels, a graphic novel of the Revolutionary War that features Vermont’s Green Mountain Boys and others. Good stuff.