“Once the threshold of Helheim is crossed, not even gods can escape,” the epigraph of Helheim #1 explains.
In Norse mythology, Helheim is the bleak underworld where only the most deranged and wretched of the deceased reside and Cullen Bunn, of Deadpool Killustrated and The Sixth Gun fame aims to bring us there with a modern day twist. Viking warriors, hideous monstrosities, and malign barbarians abound in this first issue… Is It Good?
Helheim #1 (Oni Press)
The issue opens with a group of warriors on the run from some unseen horror. We’re introduced to Rikard, our tough as nails protagonist with a tender heart:
His father, on the other hand, isn’t quite as compassionate; something that will be made even more apparent later in the issue:
Rikard and his posse are chased all the way to the gates of their encampment, where they’re forced to make a stand. It’s head-mashin’ time!
Turns out their enemies aren’t exactly as they seem, however. If you’re not familiar with the Old Norse term draugr, now’s the time. I have a feeling we’ll be seeing a lot more of it (or similar themes inspired by the term) as the series progresses.
Editor-in-chief of Oni Press James claims that artist Joelle Jones “can literally draw anything.” He forgot to note that she does it damn good too. She employs a scratchy style that reminds me of a fusion between Keith Giffen and early Frank Miller, but far more crisp than either. Panels such as the following also have an ethereal quality to them that really bring the story to life:
By issue’s end, we’ve already undergone some major changes that more established comic book companies might have taken two or three additional issues to milk out of the customers: Bunn’s pacing is to be commended; there is air of capriciousness in the storyline that had me glued to each page.
My only gripe is that although the action certainly came as a shock, I worry that readers of more established superhero yarns might find themselves unable to relate to the unrestrained plot; that and we haven’t yet seen enough from the protagonist and supporting cast to attach any real sentiment.
- Phenomenal art by Joelle Jones.
- Interesting setting and source material.
- Haven’t seen enough from the characters yet to become attached to them.
Is It Good?
Yes. Great art. Great setting. A serviceable plot thus far. I went into Helheim #1 without knowing a damn thing about it and came away very pleasantly surprised. Hopefully issue #2 continues with the quality that this one brought about. I also can’t wait to see what else Bunn conjures up for Joelle Jones to illustrate.