The Swords They Carry … Sword Daughter #1

One of my favourite Vertigo comics of the last 10 years was a book done by Brian Wood called Northlanders. Brian wrote several story arcs featuring different tales of Viking Age characters. Each arc, while fictional, gave you a historical glance at what life was like for the Vikings. The real history and not helmet horned oafs landing on a beach yelling “Wunderbar”, although I do love Wunderbars. Eventually, Northlanders was cancelled but there are a solid 50 issues in that run.

Sword Daughter #1 Cover
Sword Daughter #1 Cover

So I can’t say I am surprised to see Brian Wood return to the Viking Age in his new ongoing comic book series from Dark Horse Comics called Sword Daughter.

“I find endless inspiration in history, and specifically Norse history, the struggle of men and women to survive amidst violence and forbidding landscapes,” said Brian Wood. “In Sword Daughter, Mack [Artist Mack Chater] and I are bringing in very relatable themes of protecting your kids, preparing them for survival in an uncaring world, and the guilt that comes with knowing there’s only so much you can do. The father, Dag, has effectively abandoned his infant daughter for ten years, and now that he’s back he’s realizing that his daughter had gotten along without him, despite him. Having a place in her life and in her heart is not automatic. He has to atone for his past and earn her trust.”

Sword Daughter is a tale of Viking revenge which showcases “the power of redemption and the resiliency of family, and a visually stunning tribute to samurai cinema.” Samurai Cinema? Vikings? How can you not want to read this comic? The story’s origin is that a deadly group named the Forty Swords raided a sleepy village and murdered all but two people in the dead of the night. Survivor Dag and his infant daughter, Elsbeth, must struggle through grief and quench the burning flame of revenge that scars Dag’s heart.

Sword Daughter #1 Interior Page
Sword Daughter #1 Interior Page

“I’ve always loved European comics, Bande Dessinee,” said artist Mack Chater, an acclaimed graphic novel artist “I grew up reading them and loved how they used the visual narrative of a book to tell a story. The colour palette could reflect both the landscape and the tonal feel of the book, to elicit an emotional response from the reader. As soon as Brian and I started talking about Sword Daughter, we both realised that we had similar loves, from those classic Bande Dessinee to the old samurai movies like Sanjuro or Harakiri, and that this would be the perfect book to show these influences and loves visually.”

Brian really goes deep into the samurai cinema-style with his dialogue. Elsbeth speaks little but her narration tells the story of how she was left with nuns after the murder of her whole village. How her father grieved for 10 years at the loss of his family. Now, reunited, they set off on their quest. It’s a nice little storytelling technique made more effective with letterer Nate Piekos’ expressive symbols for what seems to be Elsbeth’s mute vocalizations. Mack Chater has a sketchy style that suits the tone of the book and is well coloured by Jose Villarrubia. Really nice panel layout and quite cinematic. One page shows Dag’s pursuit of a suspected member of Forty Swords with a three panel, static backdrop which works brilliantly.

Given my love of Northlanders and this fantastic introduction issue I’m definitely going to be adding this series to my pull-list. Great stuff and each issue are promised to be 8 pages longer than most regular comic book stories. The first issue hits your Local Comic Shop June 6th, 2018.

Issue: Sword Daughter #1 | Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Brian Wood | Artists: Mack Chater & Jose Villarrubia
Lettering: Nate Piekos | Editor: TBD
Price: $4.99 – 32 pages

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