— Entertainment Weekly
— New York Magazine
Northlanders is a comic book series featuring fictional stories about Vikings set in different historical periods. Most of the stories take place outside of Scandinavia.
It's written by Brian Wood of DMZ fame and illustrated by various artists for each storyline. Cover art is painted by Massimo Carnevale. The first issue of the series was published on December 5, 2007. (The publication date was "February, 2008").
The following artists have illustrated Northlanders story arcs:
- David Gianfelice — "Sven the Returned" and "Sven the Immortal"
- Ryan Kelly — "The Cross + the Hammer"
- Dean Ormston — "Lindisfarne"
- Vasilis Lolos — "The Viking Art of Single Combat"
- Danijel Zezelj — "The Shield Maidens"
- Leandro Fernandez — "The Plague Widow"
- Fiona Staples — "The Sea Road"
- Ricardo Burchielli — "Metal"
- Becky Cloonan — "The Girl in the Ice"
- Simon Gane, Matthew Woodson, Marion Churchland — "Thor's Daughter"
- Paul Azaceta, Declan Shalvey, Danijel Zezelj — "The Icelandic Trilogy"
Northlanders is characterized by medieval subject matter and themes handled in a modern way. The dialogue is modern, replete with modern euphemisms and foul language in a manner reminiscent of HBO's Rome. It is extremely gritty and violent — as it should be, considering the subject matter. Despite the modern take, it is fairly historically accurate.
- Amazon Brigade: An interesting example in "The Shield Maidens" in that the three women aren't trained warriors but do a great job of defending themselves.
- Badass Beard:
- Sven grows one in "Sven the Returned" as he comes to accept his identity as an Orkney Viking.
- Boris in "Plague Widow" is a religious intellectual who is no stranger to combat and actually slew Gunborg in single combat.
- Black-and-Gray Morality: The Sven's story, especially his conflict between Sven and his Evil Uncle.
- Cadre of Foreign Bodyguards: Sven worked as a Varangian Guard, who served as this trope to Byzantine Empire.
- Cheese Eating Surrender Monkey: Subverted; French or rather Franks were portrayed as both capable warriors and cunning craftsmen in the Siege of Paris arc. However, they surrendered when they experienced casualties from the siege and bribed the besieging Vikings with land in France.
- Country Matters: "Cunt" is used liberally.
- Death by Childbirth: Magnus claimed that his wife died giving birth to his daughter Brigid; at least that's what Magnus hallucinated, instead of him leaving her due to giving birth to a girl instead of a boy.
- Downer Ending: "The Cross and the Hammer". Turns out Magnus is a delusional murderer, and gets stabbed to death.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: "Plague Widow", "Sven The Returned", and "Shield Maiden" had happy notes after their struggles from the infected village, family feud, and Saxon attackers respectively.
- End of an Age: The story, "The Metal", marked the futility of Erik's personal crusade against the Christianity in Norway as the area gradually embraced Christianity and almost every settlement had a church that Erik and his spouse Ingrid moved into rural fringes to practice their Nordic traditions.
- Evil All Along: In "The Cross and the Hammer", Magnus was not only a delusional murderer but also left his wife and Brigid due to latter's birth as a female.
- Fat Bastard: In "The Plague Widow" Gunborg is the head of the trading settlements security forces. He is fat, gluttonous, (but still a formidable warrior) and as evil and corrupt as they come.
- Generational Saga: The Icelandic Trilogy (Northlanders #42—#50) detailed the Hauksson clan from the founding of Icelandic settlement to 1260 A.D.
- Grey-and-Gray Morality/What the Romans Have Done for Us: In a conversation between Ragnar and Magnus, the former noted on how the Norse brought commerce and civilization to the Irish while the latter claimed that the natives were taxed heavily and driven off to take over their lands. Ragnar retorted that Magnus' claims only applied to Ungrateful Bastard. Of course, this wasn't helped that Magnus was a serial killer who has been hallucinated himself as a Papa Wolf freedom fighter.
- Horny Vikings: Completely averted. The comic book is noted for being historically accurate, with not a horn to be seen.
- Sand Bridge at Low Tide: In the two-issue "The Shield Maidens" arc, three Viking women fight off an army of Saxons from inside a Ancient Roman fortress that is only reachable at low tide via a sand bridge.
- Yandere: Jens in "The Plague Widow".