Thursday, April 14, 2016

Review - Vikings vs. Unicorns #1


"Long ago, in a land far to the north, a horse sweetly grazes in a snow-covered field."

The thing about mythical creatures is that they're so ensconced in the legends surrounding them that they carry preconceived characteristics that may or may not be true. Vampires may or may not hate garlic. Leprechauns may or may not have a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. Unicorns are typically viewed as majestic creatures full of hope and love, but Vikings vs. Unicorns #1 has a different take on them. The issue is written by Jim Tramontana and illustrated by KC Anderson.

You've heard of alternate histories? Well Vikings vs. Unicorns is an alternate mythology, recasting everyone's favorite one-horned mythical icon of cuteness as a feral nightmare, endowed with immense powers and bent on destroying humanity. They are pitted against one of history's traditional villains, the Vikings, who are recast as humanity's grimly determined saviors. A whole lot of rainbow-colored blood is spattered across its opening pages and the fun just keeps raging on from there!

There's always been a simmering fascination with unicorns and Vikings vs. Unicorns #1 taps into that fascination with a vengeance. Tramontana pits them against Vikings in a match that seems outlandish on paper (and it is), but it works within the scope of the series. The vikings boast all the relevant characteristics that define them historically, as Tramontana doesn't shy away from giving them plenty of anger and violent takes on situations. The issue is paced in a way that the reader gets to know the vikings the most intimately while the unicorns are focused on just enough to set them up as a viable opponent. And Tramontana also ensures that there will be plenty of fireworks between the factions, as the ending of the issue is quite ominous in many regards.

The illustrations by Anderson are somewhat bare-bones, but they work really well for the story. His characters sport a sketched approach that grounds the book in a simplicity befitting of the vikings at the center of the action. Even Anderson's unicorns get in on the action, as they're illustrated with as much ferocity as the vikings themselves. Each page is outlined by a border replete with runes that further immerses the reader in the impending battle brewing between the two sides. The colors are also a great contrast between vikings and unicorns, as Anderson illustrates the vikings with expected reds and oranges in their beards while unicorns get the full sparkly rainbow treatment.

Vikings vs. Unicorns #1 seems like a superfluous pairing of two relics of the past, but it's anything but that. The vikings self-proclaimed place as kings of the world is about to get a big hit in the form of impending doom. Tramontana writes the issue with a very cavalier approach that ensure no part of the story will be confused as being anything more than frivolity. Anderson's illustrations are clean and simple, effectively capturing the action well and throwing the two sides into the mix heartily. Vikings vs. Unicorns #1 is really a lot of fun and doesn't take itself too seriously.

Vikings vs. Unicorns #1 is available now via comiXology.

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