Erik and his lover's herb-addled bliss is interrupted by Ulf, who brings dire warnings of retaliation from the Christian invaders.
Wood and Burchielli make a great team on this book - - injecting this historical fiction with some modern attitude without falling into any frustrating, flippant anachronisms. It might sound strange to compliment a book as brash as Northlanders for its subtlety, but I still appreciate how these guys didn't beat you on the head with the drug sub-plot and its after-effects. Instead, they opt for slighter gestures that allow you to piece together things yourself, making for a refreshingly-active reader involvement. I haven't seen Burchielli's art before, but I was seriously digging his work here, coupled with McCaig's colors. It reminded me a lot of P. Craig Russell's work, even though it had a distinct identity of its own.
This is the first issue of this title that I've read, so I don't know how much of a fantasy or a black comedy this has been up until this point, but... Ulf's mutilation at Erik's hands seems a little ridiculous. First, that looked like it was deathstroke and, even if Ulf didn't die immediately, I don't think he could be speaking that eloquently when half his face was ripped off. Second, practically beheading your friend over a disagreement seems more than a little extreme, even for a high Viking bezerker.
The Verdict - 4/5
I don't get to review Vertigo titles for this site as often I'd like, so it was definitely a breath of fresh air to read a title like this with a different approach to sequential art than I usually encounter. It's a provocative spin on the common sense of history and I'm hoping I'll get to read more of it as this Metal storyline unfolds. If you enjoyed that CG Beowulf movie or, to dig further back, the 80s flick Flesh + Blood, then you're going to love this.