Long Walk to Valhalla is one of those stories in which you get it, but you don’t get it. I mean I got the overall story, but I’m not sure if I understood all of the components that got me there. I’m okay with that because the best thing about Long Walk to Valhalla is that it leaves you wanting to read it again. It leaves you wanting to understand it more. The best way I can describe Long Walk to Valhalla is to say it’s a This is Your Life style of story. We begin in the past with two brothers at a country convenience store buying candy and… ephedrine. Rory, our shorter of the two brothers does all the talking. His brother Joe is a special case and clearly he’s not all there. As they leave we get a look into Joe’s world when he sees the “pretty things” as Rory calls them. The pretty things would likely drive you insane as they’re something out of a drug induced Fantasia, but this poor soul is seeing them in real life and daily.
After this opening we go to the future and find Rory again. He’s driving his car and it’s unclear where he’s off to at the moment, but it doesn’t matter as his car breaks down and strands him. He goes to use his phone and discovers he’s out of minutes. So he does what anyone would do and sits down to smoke a cigarette. I mean I don’t smoke, but I would definitely sit there for a minute hating the situation. Behind him he hears a voice and then a fall. Rory wanders into the field to find a young girl that’s twisted her ankle. He asks where she’s from and where her parents are and the girl tells him she’s a Valkyrie of Arkansas. She also informs him that he’s going to die today.
The story continues to bounce between the present and the past leaving us to wonder if the more we learn about Rory, the closer he’ll get to death?
The writing is wonderful on this story. The dialogue steals the show, particularly the interaction between Rory and Sylvia (our Valkyrie) as they play off of each other very well. There’s a strange level of comfort between the two, but I liked that. I don’t know why, but it just worked. I have some theories on who Sylvia is supposed to represent, but I could be way off so I won’t bother. We have the comment section for that.
There’s a lot going on in the story. A lot more than just a simple look at the past as writer Adam Smith explores the complexity of relationships throughout the story. What Smith does extremely well as a writer is keep your interest. It’s a decently long story, but it doesn’t feel like it because you just want to tear ass through it.
A lot of credit needs to go to Matthew Fox who illustrates and letters the entire story. He also does a lot of the coloring which is all kept to this bluish hue. The blue hue works for the story and serves to give it a lot of personality without distracting from the art or story.
Fox’s character designs stood out to me because we see the same characters over and over at different stages of life. With that he could easily have stumbled and produced characters that were too old looking for their age, but instead he really delivers believable designs for everyone at their different ages. Future Rory really looks like the adult version of kid Rory that we’re introduced to in the beginning.
The last two bits of the art I want to talk about are the “pretty things” and the panel design since they do kind of go together. The pretty things look anime/Fantasia inspired, but Fox makes them work within his style which is neither of those two things. There’s an emotional weight to these creatures and Fox does captures that with his art making for a better story. As for the panel design, Fox makes this story look epic. Most of the time it’s not. Most of the time it’s characters talking or a dramatic scene playing out, but there is this overall epic feeling to it that feeds into the big question of what’s going to happen to Rory at the end.
I’ve been looking forward to talking about this story for a while. I enjoyed the hell out of it as it was a simple concept, but very clever at the same time. If you like stories like Doomboy or I Kill Giants then you’re bound to like Long Walk to Valhalla.