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God of Comics – Heathen #5

God Of Comics, Reviews

August 8, 2017

Heathen #5 (Vault Comics)

Oh, Gods, this comic. The impossible levels of awesome that are this comic.

This is one of the reasons I miss Nerdcouver and why I like hanging out at comic shops and talking with comic people – I never heard of this comic until I was chilling at Big Pete’s and someone brought it up.

It’s a comic about gender and sexual politics set against an old Norse low fantasy backdrop where the Aesir and Vanir are just kind of chilling out,” said one of the women behind Pete’s counter. I’m not going to identify which one: suffice it to say, all of them know their shit and when they recommend something it’s worth checking out.

So I did. I love Norse mythology and we tend to talk about gender and sexual politics at least some of the time, and especially now given what this week is. Happy Pride, peoples. Happy pride.

But back to this comic: Odin is a crotchety old man and when his Valkyrie Queen wants nothing to do with him, he curses her. A young lesbian hunter is told she can be with her lover maybe if she frees the Valkyrie Queen, or so her hope goes. An epic quest is undertaken, the Valkyrie Queen is freed, and our young hunter learns that Odin is old and cruel and not so easily thwarted.

The Valkyrie goes to find someone else that loved her once while the Hunter gets taken to meet Freya, a meeting that is rife with possibility and temptation, but our hunter will not be dissuaded from her goal. She learns, grows, sees the full scope of the task before her and stands unafraid because she is full of youth and vigor and win.

And now she’s looking to cross a place called Heimdall, the place that is also a man, a gate that leads to the lands of the gods. Given that Heimdall guards a bridge made of rainbows, you might think that he’d be on her side… but we’ll have to wait and see. Wait until Big Pete’s or your local comic book shop opens.

… because then you’ll be able to get the comic and you will know.

It’s not going to be easy. She’s going to need a ship, some means of braving the frozen waters of the North Seas, but she is a Viking and she will not be stopped, no matter the trickery that crosses her.

Heathen is the work of Natasha Alterici – she does the art, the story, the everything. It’s a singular vision that stands apart and shows how strong a cohesive narrative can be when an artist cuts loose. The first trade came out last week, too, and that collects issues one through four, meaning you have no excuse not to pick up that and this and so know the whole saga.

And listen to your comics peeps. They know things, and many of the things they know are awesome.

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285

God of Comics – Heathen #2

God Of Comics, Reviews

June 21, 2017

Heathen #2 (Vault Comics)

This is the second printing of this comic and I don’t care. You need to know about this comic.

I don’t know how I missed this and it’s another title that I owe knowledge of to Big Pete and his awesome staff (support your local comic shop, guys, you’ll never know what you’re missing if you don’t go in). This here comic is rooted in heavy Norse mythology and deals with a curse that Odin laid down on his head Valkyrie, Brynhild, basically trapping her in a ring of fire unless someone could love her purely.

So, one Viking shield maiden – Aydis – takes it upon herself to go and become the shield maiden for this Valkyrie after she’s driven out of her tribe for being a lesbian (her would-be lover is simply married off to some schmuck). This issue finds her on her quest and the other Aesir getting involved because these are Viking gods and they’re not going to sit by and let anything slip past them.

This comic is the best sort of mythic world-building, taking pre-existing mythology and paying heed to it while moving it forward and doing some fascinating things. The Aesir and Vanir and Vikings are all recognizable, but the devil is in the details and this mythology has no place for the devil; there’s simply people both divine and mortal doing the best they can with their whims and ambitions.

Natasha Alterici is writing and drawing this; it’s her first time writing comics but you wouldn’t know it. This title is handled with an expert’s touch for everything, from dialogue to character design. The world she’s made feels rough and worn-in, the characters she’d made strong and fragile and flawed. They’re human, regardless of whatever else they might be. The whole of this comic is tragic and readable and above all perfect, and I can’t recommend this enough.

This is tremendous work and you should be reading it.

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