7.30.08 Review (Singular)

I don't think I can ever remember a time that my weekly purchase amounted to a single floppy issue. The combination of the post-con lull and more selective buying habits must have finally done it...

Northlanders #8 (DC/Vertigo): As Brian Wood and Davide Gianfelice wrap up the arc entitled Sven the Returned, we're treated to something subtle, but very important. Sven is a breathtaking character because he understands that true cultural progress and personal growth come from breaking a cycle or pattern of behavior. In this issue, he literally turns his back on the notion of what others anticipate he'll do. He has the courage to forge his own path in an unexpected direction. He carves out his own little world by building his nuclear family and removing it from the inevitability of what's immediately in front of him. He's considered the larger picture for himself and his countrymen and has found an unwillingness to repeat the sins of the past. You hear the writing cliche frequently that characters begin to "write themselves." This turn was so unexpected that you can almost feel that happening here. I wonder if Wood had all of this originally planned or if he got to this point in the script and then Sven whispered to him, "you know what? Fuck this, I'm leaving and going in a different direction. This life is over." It's easy to focus on Wood's scripting ability, but I'd be remiss in not commenting on Gianfelice's pencils. What I really admire is the versatility of his page layouts. He's not afraid to chop up the page in different ways to capture the pace the team wants and deliver the right succession of story beats with a slightly lower panel, a missing gutter, or an asymmetrical design. It all makes me wonder, what's next in the Northlanders universe? Grade A.


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