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Webcomic / Vápnthjófr saga

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The comic's title page

Vápnthjófr saga is a Historical Fantasy comic set in a World of Funny Animals, that started in January 2020.

The comic takes place in the nordic kingdom of Jamtaland, where a religious conflict has spiraled into a civil war. An unlikely group is wrapped up in the conflict and sent out on a seemingly impossible mission.

The comic can be read here.

This comic provides examples of:

  • After-Action Patch-Up: After being ambushed and narrowly escaping, Shirin patches up Hillevi's wounds, due to her role as The Medic.
  • Afterlife of Service: When the queen of the Aesir-worshiping faction holds a funeral for her late brother, two dead slaves are seen on the pyre along with weapons and a shield.
  • All Crimes Are Equal: To some of the nobility, insults are treated as a crime as serious as manslaughter. In Viking society, this would've been the case in real life, as the Viking society was very honour-based, and insulting someone was therefore a serious offense.
  • Alliterative Family: Shirin & Shadi/Hjalmar & Hjördis.
  • All There in the Manual: The author's notes give a lot of additional historical facts.
  • Art Shift: The prologue is presented in the style of the Edda manuscripts. It later shifts to the regular style.
  • Animal Facial Hair: A subtle example- Some male characters have shaggier, longer fur on their jaws and chins, to suggest beards.
  • Animals Not to Scale: Very much averted. All the funny animals have sizes roughly corresponding to their real-life differences. For instance, Unni (arctic fox) and Shirin (pine marten) are roughly the sizes of Hillevi's (bear) cubs. The weapon thief is an exception, for obvious reasons.
  • Antagonist Title: Vápnthjófr is Old Norse for “weapon thief”. As in the appellation of the Jotun slaughtering the Aesir followers.
  • Armor-Piercing Question / And Then What?: Delivered to Herja by the jotun-worshipping priestess. "If all you want is vengeance, what is there after that?"
  • Astral Projection: Vide and Nanna does this in different ways in their shaman rituals.
  • Attack the Tail: When Ulf attacks the gang and attempts to claw out Herja's remaining eye, Shirin attacks him by biting off a chunk of his tail.
  • Babies Make Everything Better: Averted. Vide's baby screaming sets off a chain of events that puts Unni and her friends in a lot of trouble.
  • Barefoot Cartoon Animal: None of the characters wear shoes.
  • Bare-Handed Blade Block: The weapon thief stops a sword with her bare hand.
  • Big Ol' Eyebrows: Unni's brows are as thick as her eyes!
  • Blood-Splattered Warrior: The weapon thief is depicted as such several times.
  • Campfire Character Exploration: Herja opens up slightly about her past around a campfire, after being a little softened up by Unni's light-hearted anecdotes.
  • Cats Are Magic: Freya, the goddess of magic, fertility, and death, is a European lynx.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Three protagonists happen to be outside the queen's hall for entirely different reasons when events happen that force them into a Suicide Mission. Unni is being dragged there by a drunken chieftain who thinks she insulted him, Hillevi is lodging an objection to being drafted into the aesir-vanir religious war, Shirin is pleading for her sister's release. Then the chieftain gets annoyed with Shirin's pleas and decides to kill her too, which prompts Mama Bear to rip his throat out. Thus the queen ends up sentencing the three of them to slay the weapon thief.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The weapon thief curb-stomped an entire fortress off-screen.
  • Cute Little Fangs: The carnivore species has them, including those on the cute side of the spectrum.
  • Cycle of Revenge: Went on both among the gods, with the banishment of Loki's children, the killing of Balder and the revenge killing of Höder. The vengeance cycle is also going on in the war among the mortals.
  • Downer Beginning: The first scene after the prologue takes place in a prison, with prisoners lingering at deaths' door.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Unni talks with a drunk monk at an inn, who's drinking ale and complaining about his predicament of being forced into monastery life and later forced to go up north to try and convert vikings with an annoying partner.
  • Due to the Dead: Page 285 features a historically accurate Viking Funeral, with an author's note that while pre-Christian Norse funerals varied a lot by region, burning ships were almost certainly an invention of Hollywood. Instead the queen's brother is buried with weapons, armor, and sacrificed slaves to take with him to the afterlife.
  • Feather Fingers: The birds are designed this way.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: The main gang certainly grows closer over the perilous adventure.
  • Foreign Language Title: The title is in old Norse.
  • Forgotten Friend, New Foe: Herja and the weapon thief were apparently friends in the past, abut various dark events in their pasts drove them apart and now Herja is out for the weapon thief's blood.
  • Four-Philosophy Ensemble: The four leads: Herja is the cynic, Unni is the optimist, Hillevi is the realist and Shirin is the conflicted.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Hillevi is Phlegmatic, Unni is Sanguine, Herja is Choleric and Shirin is Melancholic.
  • Furry Reminder: Done often. Characters often move on all fours, Shirin bristles up her tail when she's frightened, Ailu the snowy owl eats a flatbread burrito by swallowing it whole in the same manner that an owl would swallow a lemming or a mouse, An adder mentions shedding skins, the pine martens live in a treehouse and roe deer are mentioned to shed their antlers in winter.
  • Go for the Eye: When the gang fight Ulf, he tries to gouge out Herja's one eye, but he's stopped before he manages to do so.
  • Historical Fantasy: The webcomic takes place in the Viking Age, and has themes of Norse myths.
  • Heel Realization: Herja choses not to pursue vengeance on the weapon thief when she realises that vengeance won't give her peace..
  • I Have a Family: Hillevi tries to argue this when she's about to be forcibly drafted. The soldier doesn't care.
  • I Know Your True Name: When Herja choses not to pursue vengeance on the weapon thief, she reveals her true name: Bretna.
  • Inadequate Inheritor: Flashbacks show that queen Hjördis's brother was originally expected to inherit the throne, but because he showed little to no interest in the duties of kingship while Hjördis sought out training in swordsmanship from their father she was named heir instead.
  • Interspecies Adoption: Vide, a mountain hare, is an adoptive father figure to Ailu, a snowy owl.
  • It Gets Easier: Herja argues this when Shirin refuses to kill.
  • It's Personal: Herja doesn't just go after the weapon thief to settle a war or to save her own life- She has a personal beef with her.
  • King on His Deathbed: In Hjördis\' flashbacks, her dying father entrusted her to continue fighting his war.
  • Large and in Charge: The queen of the Aesir worshippers is a moose, Scandinavia's largest land animal.
  • Low Fantasy: Apart from the funny animals, there are not many supernatural or magical events happening.
  • The Marvelous Deer: Balder, the god of light, is portrayed as a red deer.
  • Masculine–Feminine Gay Couple: Hillevi is a blacksmith and (retired) warrior, her wife Nanna is a priestess of Freya.
  • Myth Prologue: The prologue explains the story of Jämtland, its religion and the unrest it caused, and the threat of the weapon thief, all framed as a text from the edda.
  • No Cartoon Fish: Averted by some official artwork, depicting the underwater societies of the comic's universe. Fish are stated to be just as sapient as terrestrial animals, they just go unclothed since fabric would just weigh them down in the water.
  • Offering a Hand: Herja offering hands to Hillevi when they first meet, to let her remove her shackles. Also in Herja's backstory, she offered a hand to a young weapon thief.
  • Oh, My Gods!: Used sometimes. The characters sometimes also use norse mythology-fied expressions, such as "Freyr's tusks" "Thor's name" etc.
  • One-Man Army: The weapon thief is told to be able to slay entire armies by herself.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Herja is out to kill the weapon thief, and makes the rest of the gang swear to let her deliver the killing blow.
  • Our Giants Are Bigger: The Weapon Thief is a Jotun looking like a fifteen-foot-tall white aurochs (undomesticated cow).
  • Pelts of the Barbarian: Most characters wears no pelts, due to the World of Funny Animals setting, but two notable exeptions are The weapon thief and Ulf, both of which fits the "barbarian" description.
  • Prehistoric Monster: The Jotnar are portrayed as anthropomorphic prehistoric animals, the Weapon Thief is an aurochs, while Fenrir is a dire wolf and Hel is a cave hyena. Though how monstrous they truly are compared to the Aesir and Vanir (or even to mortals) is debatable.
  • Psychic Nosebleed: When Vide gets back to reality after falling down into the death realm during a trance, he has a nosebleed.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: A retired warrior blacksmith, a traveling musician, a book smart runecarver, and a scarred ex-prisoner on a vengeance quest.
  • Revenge Before Reason:
    • Herja spends years chained up in a fortress cell, waiting for her chance to take revenge. Then the Weapon Thief destroys the fortress and slaughters her captors, apparently specifically to free her, so Herja swears her revenge on her instead.
    • Hillevi sees the whole war between Aesir and Vanir worshipers as a ridiculous Cycle of Revenge that needs to stop and gets in trouble for refusing to participate.
  • Running on All Fours: Many characters drop to all fours when running.
  • Scenery Porn: The comic frequently indulges in splash panels of Jämtland's scenery, with mountains, rivers, lakes, and forests.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Hillevi has this attitude towards the leadership, with her refusing to participate in the war and protecting commoners from vengeful nobility.
  • Silent Scenery Panel: Used often, to show off places such as fortresses, islands, docks, towns, etc., and the characters' homes.
  • Slave Brand: The prisoners in Jarl Hjalmar's fortress has a hole punched through their ears.When Herja is freed, she cuts the ear in question off.
  • Splash Panel: Used often for establishing shots and Wham Shots.
  • Stargazing Scene: Shirin and Unni, together under auroras.
  • Sword and Sorcerer: A variant: The main quartet uses "sword" in the A-plot, while Vide and Nanna uses "Sorcery" in the B-plot.
  • Tastes Like Friendship: When Herja and the weapon thief first met when they were young, Herja gave the weapon thief an apple.
  • Translation Convention: When Unni & her friends speak in Sami, the dialogue is presented as English text within brackets and an asterisk explaining that it is Sami they're speaking. And it's generally assumed the rest of the cast are usually speaking Old Norse, written as English.
  • Through a Face Full of Fur: Shirin is shown blushing while being complimented.
  • Uriah Gambit: The queen send the main characters out on a Suicide Mission as a punishment for their crimes.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: The main characters after being sent out on their Suicide Mission- Coming back to the island would mean execution.
  • Vagabond Buddies: Unni and Vide has spent years traveling around, playing music and doing odd jobs.
  • Vegetarian Carnivore: Several main characters are carnivores, but all we see them eat is vegetables, bread, and mushrooms.
  • War Is Hell: The characters see the aftermaths of the horrors of war, and Hillevi has experienced it herself.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Herja and the Weapon thief were friends: They were driven apart against their will because of the weapon thief's misguided actions to protect Herja and their other friends. When they reunite, the circumstances are such that a jaded Herja instead sets her sights on killing the weapon thief.
  • Webcomic Time: The comic has been running for over three years, but in-universe, only a few weeks at most has passed.
  • Wham Shot: Notable examples are the weapon thief breaking through the walls of the prison fortress and Hillevi killing the chieftain who just pulled a knife on Unni, both illustrated with full-page splash panels. There's also the splash panel where Herja charges at Hillevi, Unni & Shirin after they followed a blood trail leading them to her.
  • When Elders Attack: Shirin's elderly father smacks a guard with his walking stick after he insinuates that he'll see the potential loss of his daughters as a worthwhile sacrifice for victory.
  • Wintry Auroral Sky: Unni & Shirin spend some time talking under an aurora borealis display, swapping myths and stories.
  • World of Funny Animals: A world populated entirely with anthropomorphic animals, who sits on the Funny Animal part of the Sliding Scale of Anthropomorphism.
  • Would Hurt a Child / Would Hit a Girl: The roe deer chieftain Leif. In his drunken, enraged state, he hits both Ailu & Shirin (The former a child, the latter a woman, and both species significantly smaller than him) and he also smacks Unni around until finally Threatening to kill her.