Yesterday was comic book day and I picked up a slew of new books, including, apropos of #Norsevember, the second issue of the P. Craig Russell (and friends) adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology and issue 9 (Legacy # 735) of the latest take on Marvel’s Thor.
Both were solid entertainment, with compelling art and good storytelling.
Donny Cates’ run on Thor has breathed new life into the character, and while I’ve been quite critical of Marvel’s mishandling of their properties these past couple of decades, Cates has taken what Marvel has offered and made something special so far. Not an easy task considering the mess the studio has allowed to fester, largely due to editorial mismanagement from the top down.
Or maybe I’m just growing long of tooth…
I quite enjoyed Gaiman’s retelling of Norse Mythology, and Russell and Company are doing a beautiful adaptation that is representative of Russell’s long history of magically illustrated works, such as his adaptation of the Ring Cycle.
All of this got me to thinking of comics that I have enjoyed over the years that have addressed Norse Myth & Culture. There have been plenty in recent years, such as Brian Wood’s Northlanders and Sword Daughter, or Cullen Bunn’s Helheim. Walt Simonson’s Ragnarok has been a lot of fun (and an interesting take, to be sure).
There have been terrific European series, like the classic Thorgal, or Hammerfall, which I absolutely adored.
But then you have The Ring of the Nibelungs, adapted by Roy Thomas and Gil Kane for DC, and by P. Craig Russell for Dark Horse. Both are simply amazing.
Of course, The Mighty Thor deserves accolades beyond measure. Easily in my Top 10 favorite mainstream comics, with illustrations by the likes of Kirby, Buscema, and Simonson, Thor was a huge part of my childhood. Yes, it’s nowhere near historically accurate, but is was a catalyst in my youth, to be sure.
Though, probably the very first comic that made me aware of Norse Culture was Prince Valiant, which I read in the Sunday Comics religiously beginning in the early seventies. Again, what it lacked in historical accuracy was tempered by Hal Foster’s unbridled imagination. It certainly fueled mine.
These a just a few of the titles that spring to mind, there are many more to be sure. That’s the thing about Norse heritage — it is rich, noble, imaginative, and colorful… and tailor-made for adaptation in comics.