After the phenomenal collected edition Immortal Guardian impressed me, the next release of Saltire was something I was keeping an eye out for and the recent MCM Scotland proved to be the first chance I got.
The first two parts of a six issue run brings our big blue hero back to his role as protector of Scotland but the first part of Legend Eternal is all about the build-up. John introduces us to the world of the Berserkers as their all-seeing soothsayer edges closer to the end of her days but her final vision for her master is the source of her own replacement and it’s destination Scotland for the marauding Vikings who quickly set sail. Meanwhile, the protector of the Islands must get his head straight and a plan in action to help save his kingdom from invasion……cue the arrival of dragons, mystic legend & Saltire himself and you’ve got a setup for a face-off that could go either way but there’s a long way to go in this series yet.
With the build-up complete the second issue pretty much explodes into action and it’s all out war as an army of Scots with Saltire and his god-like allies band together to halt the Berserkers in their tracks. There’s much more to this issue than a one-dimensional war as more mythical elements creep into the story alongside a power struggle for head of the family and protector of the Islands people. Multi-layered stories could well have gotten messy here but the elements are put together like a jigsaw with each page you turn.
These two issues pick things up from the Immortal Guardian collection and turn things up to eleven with a broader cast and a similar blend of myth, legend & man to get swept up in. While it bursts into life in the second issue the slow build in issue one makes sure that the battles pack more of a punch and the comparison with the likes of Game of Thrones is even more valid here than it was before. Not a carbon copy by any means but a comparison that helps emphasise the quality of the story on offer.
The new art team of Lydia Praamsma & Kasey Schiavone takeover on art duties but the look and tone of these two issues blend seemlessly with what has gone before. The push to have these issues printed in A4 allows a true sense of scale to be added to each and every page as the epic landscape, the growing battles and the mystic elements all get the best possible chance to shine. Powerful art and moody colours are the order of the day from the beginning and it all combines to match and even better the Immortal Guardian collection which I already think raised the bar from the individual releases we’ve seen before. There has to be a special mention for Kevin McGivern who has produced two stunning covers that lead us into each issue.
This feels like a different beast to those first releases but it feels like that’s the point and while the introductions to Saltire and the world he inhabits have been complete in those earlier issues, this new release can stand alone and be picked up without knowing what’s gone before……although you should really read it all. A stunning addition to the world of Saltire and it’s easy to see why this has been gaining momentum in it’s popularity. Action-packed, detailed in both plot & artwork and it’s not overly in-your-face with the Scottish element which goes in it’s favour too. The new Vikings vs Saltire direction seems to be timed for release at the perfect time.
Go grab these and the previous Saltire releases over on the Diamondsteel Comics website and check out the Saltire Facebook & Twitter pages for more news on their next appearances and the rest of those issues.