Saltire hit the small press scene a couple of years ago and it’s always been a title I planned to go back to so I took the chance recently after picking up the collected edition graphic novel Immortal Guardian from DiamondSteel Comics.
This collection includes Saltire: Invasion and the two-part Saltire: Annihilation with the added bonus of extra material and a ‘remastered’ approach to enhance what was already a solid release. The first chapter covers the origin of our newest hero and with a grounding in Scottish myth & legend we see Saltire summoned into existence through mystical incantations that blend magical powers with strong faith.
A new champion is just what’s needed and the highlands of Scotland are a dangerous place for any non-mortals though but when battles ensues our new guardian rises to the challenge that faces him. It’s far from straight forward though as Romans, dragons and a face-off with a demon in the underworld sets Saltire up as a force to be reckoned with.
Chapter’s two & three take things up a notch as we are introduced to a much more multi-layered story where the battle for control of the land & people of Scotland sees a new call to arms for Saltire and the other guardians. Its far from a man vs gods face-off though as witches, vampires, zombies and more seep from the dark edges of the country and into the midst of a battle that seems sure to take its toll on everyone across the country. It’s got the complexity of Game of Thrones, the relentlessness of The Walking Dead and the passion of Braveheart and while that mix of elements could have felt like a messy rehash of ides it ends up becoming a far more rewarding read than you might have guessed at first glance. The outcome seems uncertain and with that very real element of risk and some surprising casualties along the way the seemingly insurmountable odds makes this one of those page-turning releases that you just can’t get enough of.
John juggles each and every element with real style and while there are a number of comparisons with other comics, movies or TV shows out there, Saltire is a unique character in a unique release. It has weight, it has a sense of history and the characters become a joy to read about from the first panel through to the last. The art team of Claire Roe, Lauren Knight, Gary Welsh & Tone Julskjaer help build that world around John’s plot as they match the tone and add an emphasis to the peril with some smart layouts and bold colours that make the pages crackle with energy as the story unfolds. The new cover from Alex Ronald & the original covers from James Devlin also add another quality element to the series and the larger A4 format proves to be the best way to be steeped in the mythological world of Saltire. It’s a complete all-round package from an indie title that acts as an example on how to lead the way in creator owned comics.
You can pick up the Immortal Guardian edition and the recently released Saltire: Legend Eternal over at the DiamondSteel Comics online shop.