In the tumultuous time during the arrival of the Christian religion into the Norse lands, many battled the new faith and it’s violent imposition over the old ways of Odinism. But to some who saw nothing but despair from their gods, one true loving god could have been the answer, they were ready to trade Valhalla for Heaven instead. Magnus has buried his wife, Christianity is all around him, conversion is inevitable wherever he looks. He takes on a job to escort a Cardinal through the northern road to the Hammaruskk coast. The Cardinal calls it the northern road, but Magnus and everyone who’s been through it knows that it’s The Black Road. There are many moments of reflection in this issue. A lot of self exploration on the part of Magnus, he continues to reflect on his role in the conversion, what it means for him., and how terrible the old gods have been to him. Although it is an effective way to give exposition, it took away from his brooding nature. There are times where I think silence would have been more effective than being able to see his actual thoughts. There is a point where Magnus asks the Cardinal about baptism, and about being able to go to Heaven when one dies. This would have carried more weight if silent panels had led up to it. It was still effective, but more in a Gladiator way than a Valhalla Rising one, and given the similarities with the second film I mentioned, sometimes it’s more to show than tell.
Gary Brown makes great uses of inks in this book, almost never showing Magnus’ face without shadows covering it, continuously angry and jaded, even in his moment of outspoken curiosity, and perfectly lighting the battle scenes, going back to the opening sequence of Valhalla Rising, Brown is able to tell so much from all the elements he has working in the wide panels, the constant panoramic view, and the rain and the moments that make this comic more and more of an interesting read than I originally thought. Dave McCaig’s colors shine through complimenting Brown’s inks. Churches burning always pulls at my black metalhead decaying heartstrings and he is able to show the lack of hope in a vast land, that although it’s undergoing many changes, very few of them represent opportunities for some.
Black Road is a great norse title for those who read and enjoyed Northlanders and were aching for more.
[button btn_url="" btn_color="teal" btn_size="large" btn_style="default" btn_outlined="no" link_target="blank" link_rel="" icon_left="" icon_right=""]Score: 4/5[/button]
Black Road #1 Writer: Brian Wood Artist: Gary Brown Colorist: Dave McCaig Publisher: Image Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 4/13/16 Format: Print/Digital