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Northlanders Vol. 1: Sven The Returned Paperback – October 28, 2008


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Editorial Reviews

Review

"...another creative victory for writer Wood... Northlanders takes you into a well-researched, richly realized world that illuminates politics and culture without getting bogged down in history-book stuff." - Entertainment Weekly "A great opening to a potentially fantastic series, mixing action, suspense, and realistic drama in the gritty setting of Viking-era Scotland." - ComicsBulletin.com "An excellent piece of work... it's 300 meets Braveheart plus Hamlet with a bloodstained heart." - ComicBookResources.com" --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Brian Wood is the Eisner Award-winning writer of Demo, and the writer of the criticall acclaimed Local, Channel Zero, The Couriers and Jennie One. He is currently writing DMZ and Northlanders. Davide Gianfelice is an Italian-born artist whose work to date includes the massively popular Italian series Dylan Dog (to be filmed in 2009). Northlanders marks his debut ir American comics. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Vertigo (October 28, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401219187
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401219185
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 0.5 x 10.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #155,506 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Multiple Eisner Award-nominee Brian Wood released his first series, Channel Zero, to considerable critical acclaim in 1997 and has gone on to create hard-hitting original series such as DMZ, Northlanders, The Couriers, and The Massive. Adding to that body of work, he's also written some of the biggest titles in pop culture, with work on Star Wars, Conan The Barbarian, Lord Of The Rings and The X-Men.

Brian lives with his wife and two children in Brooklyn, NY.

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Mike Hunt on November 3, 2008
Format: Paperback
The blurb in the back of this book states that Northlanders is "Vikings finally done right!!. I am usually very wary of hype and take most of these "praises" with a grain of salt but after finding myself unable to put this book down I have to agree with that succint reviewer: Northlanders does what many books and graphic novels attempt but never achieve...it brings the past alive and recreates Viking civilization in a way I have never seen depicted in comics before.

The story is about Sven, a kinda of amoral cat who fights for the Byzantine Emperor as part of his elite Varangian Guards. The Varangian Guards were Norsemen specifically recruited by the Greeks due to their legendary ferocity in battle. Sven loves Constantinople...it's a city of wonders, where all shades of skins and religion and culture mingle in the streets. He has turned his back on his cold, snowy homelands and couldn't be happier for it. That is until the day, messengers arrive with the news that his father, a king in the Orkneys, has died and that his uncle has usurped his throne, kingdom, wenches and riches.

Sven could care less about ruling a northern wasteland...he just wants to take his inheritance and come right back to sunny, golden Greece...where the story takes us after that is what really makes his book a rarity: a mature look at war and culture and how enemies deal with each other.

About the art. I'm a picky fan when it comes to art. I want to see beautiful, eye popping things and any other day I would dismiss the art of Northlanders as simplistic. But at closer inspection you see that the art is subtle and efficient.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Daniel V. Reilly VINE VOICE on November 6, 2008
Format: Paperback
Brian Wood's Viking epic NORTHLANDERS tells the story of Sven, an expatriate Viking serving as a Royal Guard in Constantinople, as he returns home to claim his inheritance and birthright, stolen from him by his murderous Uncle Gorm. The massive scope of the book unfolds over eight issues, as Sven comes to grips with the changes his people and their ancestral land have undergone since he fled as a child, and prepares to gather an army to challenge his Uncle. There are places where the pace of the book is maddeningly slow, and others, such as the climactic battle, where we're rushed along, missing potentially important plot points, almost as though Wood realized he was running out of room and had better pick up the pace. (The transition from "Let's get an army together!" to the actual battle is, literally, one page.....We go from one lone man to an army of followers with little buildup or sense of time passing, and it was very jarring....) The art, by Davide Gianfelice, is appropriately gory and grimy, and serves the story quite well. My only major complaint is Wood's use of language that you probably wouldn't have heard a Viking use, such as when Sven doesn't hear Hakkar talking to him, because he "Tuned him out for a moment".....Isn't that a term that plays off of radio and television....? Instances like that, and when Sven says he should "Call this guy on his B-S", took me right out of the story and hurt the overall mood of the book. Small quibbles aside, NORTHLANDERS BOOK ONE: SVEN THE RETURNED is one hell of a beefy book (200 pages!) for under ten bucks, and it was good enough to have me wondering just where Wood could possibly take the series next. I'll be back for Volume Two......
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By cxlxmx on June 23, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Unfortunately, I have to agree with Amazon reviewers GilGaMish and graphic_persona: this is a rather poor plot- or concept-driven comic with very little character development. I am not an avid comic reader, but I enjoyed them in my youth and am often wistful when seeing the frequently well-done cover art of modern comics. I'm also partial to things Northern. I found Northlanders by going on a search for Viking comics. I wanted very much for this to be a knock-out piece. But neither the story line, the writing, nor the illustration stood up with the cover art and hype.

As the comic opens, Sven the Varangian Guard of Byzantium ruthlessly kills a messenger sent to inform him that his uncle has usurped his birthright back in the Orkney Islands. This is about par in the sense that violence supercedes sensibility throughout the comic. The protagonist is a worldly, materialistic, atheistic, nihilist who, over the course of the comic, transforms into an isolationist pagan family man. However, there are no real turns in the storyline that explain this transformation. Predictable characters appear (e.g., the girl-left-behind who has grown into a hot blonde bombshell... Ophelia for an age of violence and porn), and everyone changes loyalties and motivations for no apparent reason (except the deus ex machina ending). Ultimately, you can judge characters in literature only by how much they affect you. At the end of the comic, I really didn't care what happened to Sven or the other characters.

The illustration has left me conflicted. It is cartoonish in a way I was not quite expecting, although the landscapes depicted are of a much higher quality than the renderings of people.
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