Review – Ragnarök #1 (IDW Publishing)
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writer/Artist: Walter Simonson
Release Date: 23rd July 2014
Legendary creator Walter Simonson makes his long-awaited return to the realms of Norse mythology here with Ragnarok, an epic tale of gods and monsters. The Vikings once believed that their world would end when it was consumed by the serpent Jormungandr after a battle with Thor, thus beginning a new cycle of destruction and creation. And for all intents and purposes, that’s exactly what we open with in this new series – the end of days, and the destruction of the nine worlds.
The backstory is perhaps a little dense for those of us not wholly familiar with the Norse mythos, although Simonson provides a suitable amount of exposition and explanation in order to keep the story moving forwards smoothly. This opening issue is centred around Brynga, a married female assassin who finds herself taking on a near-suicidal quest to ‘kill a dead god’ in the hopes of providing her newborn daughter Drifa with immortality. She is forced to recruit allies, say goodbye to her husband, and pretty much the whole issue is devoted to fleshing her out as a compelling, three-dimensional protagonist.
Perhaps the most important thing to note about this issue is that it is nothing short of gorgeous. I’ve always been a fan of Simonson’s iconic work on Thor, and this is most definitely him at his finest, throwing out epic set-pieces, uniquely creative character designs and dynamic combat sequences with apparent ease. A lot of fantasy-themed books can start to look more than a little derivative, but Simonson keeps things fresh here with his distinctive style and clear passion for the subject matter.
My only real niggle with this first issue would be with John Workman’s highly-stylised lettering in the prologue, which I found more than a little distracting, and fairly tough to follow in places. Nothing a quick re-read couldn’t remedy, true, I just felt that it jolted me out of the story almost immediately, forcing me to strain just a little to figure out exactly what was going on.
Overall however, Ragnarok serves as Walter Simonson’s triumphant return to the genre he is perhaps best known for, and seems poised to deliver an epic, sprawling tale of violence and heroism. In his first creator-owned title in two decades, it’s clear that Simonson has chosen a subject matter he cares deeply about, and the level of detail and passion that has been poured into every single page of this issue is difficult not to get excited about. One thing’s for sure, if it continues to look as beautiful as it does in this opening issue, you can definitely add Ragnarok to my ‘must read’ pile for the foreseeable future.
The writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson (aka Ceej)
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