Review – The Spider King #1 (IDW Publishing)

Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writing: Josh Vann
Illustrations: Simone D’Armini
Colours: Adrian Bloch
Letters: Nic J Shaw
Release Date:7th March 2018

From the front cover through to the very last panel, I think I probably sat with a wide-eyed grin whilst reading this entire first issue. Knowing nothing other than the premise of ‘Vikings vs Aliens’, I went into this new series with a completely open mind and came out the other side hungry for more; it’s a real Viking horn of plenty.

Apparently, The Spider King started life a few years back as an idea taken through Kickstarter and is now being presented as a four part mini-series by IDW Publishing. The writer, Josh Vann, explains in the ‘Aftermath’ comments section that the premise was to take two genres and mash them together in an unusual way. I’ve said it before but I do love a good comments section to provide an addition insight into the team’s motivation or a fresh spin on what I’ve just read; even if I end up disagreeing with any of it. Anyways, alien invasion is normally a trope set in the present or near future so the effect on a medieval culture is an interesting one. It’s not 100% original but I won’t draw any parallels with Jim Caviezel’s Outlander…

Even with a very good story being very well told, it’s the art throughout which really drew me in. Simone D’Armini has taken the subject matter and crafted something incredibly distinctive. I mentioned the mixing of unusual elements, and the subject matter and style are an odd pairing that clicked better than expected. Although there is portrayal of gore and violence in visceral graphic detail, the almost comic style actually makes it more unsettling for me than if it were realistic. That said, despite how much I enjoyed the artwork overall, one of my only gripes with the issue is that some panels are a little too busy for me; but that’s probably more a matter of personal taste.

To further round out the visual treat, we have Adrian Bloch’s colouring which worked so well it took me a while to realise exactly what they’d done. Each page is almost monochromatic but switches throughout with hues of amber, brown, blues, and greens. In isolation it could be taken (quite incorrectly) as simplistic, but the overall effect is well thought out; you can almost feel the warmth of the feasting halls switching to the biting cold winds and chilling woodland battles.

I haven’t even broached the subject of the plot yet! Without giving anything away, this has the air of a true fantastic saga but presented in the most accessible of fashions. It’s got everything you’d expect from the great oral traditions but without the need for a PhD in Norse Studies – honour, betrayal, heroism and, well, aliens.

Having missed this the first time round I’m glad I’ve been given the opportunity to read this and I strongly encourage you to do the same.

Rating: 4.5/5

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The writer of this piece was: Adam Brown
Adam Tweets from @brother_rooster

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