The first book in Asa Wheatley’s Sagas of the Shield Maiden has some new names to me attached to it, so I knew it was worth taking the plunge on it through it’s Kickstarter campaign…..and it was time I had a closer look.
Inside are five fables recounting the stories around the titular Shield Maiden that helped her legend grow from humble beginnings and beyond. Her first raid, multiple tales of revenge & a fitting end are all in the mix here but it’s the execution of each tale and the timing of some key details that make sure that the life of a Viking great has a firm emphasis on the Great part. Asa gives that central character a swagger from the beginning and that strong female lead is the driving force in what turns out to be a Viking/Western mash-up to make you think AND to entertain.
The cruelty of those visceral Viking ways are laid out in all their glory and as details are revealed about the central character, it’s hard not to warm to her and the methods she uses. The harsh times are a firm foe for her to face but you get the message very early on that there’s a strength to her that makes sure that she is able face challenges, empower others and fight the good fight through sheer force of will.
A Lesson in Revenge – Art by Michelle Marham
A Death Worthy of a Shield Maiden – Art by Kay Baird
A Matter of Fate – Art by Kevin Keane
A Bounty Paid – Art by Sammy Ward
A Crash of Thunder, A Flash of Lightning – Art by Daniel Coloma
Asa does a slick job in putting all those moments & details together and when you soak in the style of each story you can almost feel the weight of history that’s needed to solidify the legend status the central character embodies. The detail, the colouring & pretty much everything else poured into the pages manages to add something to the momentum in the glimpses at her life. The lettering is just as integral a part to this and every comic book released and Ken Reynolds matches narration, dialogue & sound-effects with his typical pitch perfect approach to the scenes that are unfolding across the pages.
That all combines to make sure that this opening book in the Sagas of the Shield Maiden packs the punches, the visuals & the plot points in a way that really grounds the Viking/Western combo in the realm of reality and while it all rests on the shoulders of that central protagonist, it succeeds because of the creative combo’s that are firing across those panels. Reads with a nice flow to it thanks to Asa & Ken with the range of emotions and varied cast are given life thanks to the art team all pulling their own weight in harnessing the very essence of a female character that could take on anyone and anything.
You can get hold of this AND the second book in the series on the campaign link below: