Walter Simonson’s love of Norse mythology comes out in the pages of his new creator-owned series from IDW Publishing, “Ragnarok.” The debut issue of the series is available now and the first five pages of the premiere details the end of the climactic battle of the Norse Gods in breathtaking fashion. Simonson’s artwork is epic in scale as the final moments of Ragnarok come to a close. It may be the best work of Simonson’s storied career as one of the top artists in all of comics and it is only the beginning.
“Ragnarok” #1 features a story written and drawn by Simonson with dazzling color from Laura Martin. This is the introduction to a world after Ragnarok the battle that ends the Norse world as it was. The story follows the Black Elf assassin Brynja as she embarks on a quest through the ruins of Yggdrasil the famed tree of life of Norse mythology. The quest she embarks on takes her through the deadliest of places as she works her way to Kliffborg where the discovery she makes will shape the course of this story.
By following Brynja, Simonson gives an entry point to this world. She rides on a beast that looks to be part-horse part-reptile as she traverses a terrain that is dangerous, but as Simonson quickly establishes she is more than capable of handling. Through simple actions within the flow of the story you can tell just who Brynja is from a loving mother to a devoted wife to master assassin more dangerous than most in the land.
What gives this story such an epic and large feel is the artwork of Simonson. The work is rich with fine detail throughout. The outside of the fortress Kliffborg is only shown in one panel but it conveys the grandiose nature of the story as Brynja and her assassins look up as they enter. It is a brief moment but this image captures the power of this moment in the story.
The character designs only add to the fun of the story. From the black elves to trolls to a god held in chains it screams fantasy and breeds excitement. Simonson’s work is only enhanced by Martin’s colors as nothing of his vivid details are lost and the mood of the setting is captured. It adds life to the pages making the fantasy world that much more real.
Letterer John Workman contributes to the overall feel of the story with text that looks as if it was written by ancient scribes. The letters are an often overlooked portion of comics today but it adds extra weight to the narrative.
Simonson’s most well-known and loved work came on Marvel Comic’s “Thor” in the 1980s. Then he worked on the mythological hero from the Marvel-Superhero perspective. With “Ragnarok” Simonson gets to tell stories in the world based closer to the true Norse myths even as this story takes place after the mythology ends. From the cover work and the previews for this series it shows the Thor that will appear in this series as the red haired Viking god of the myth rather than the blonde hammer slinger.
“Ragnarok” has an epic feel to it from the beginning and it is a pleasure to look at the stunning art and follow an amazing myth as only a master storyteller can produce. Fantasy and adventure are the flavors of this story and the great character of Brynja gives the story a hero to root for.
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