“Now my foolish boat is leaning, broken lovelorn on your rocks”
Sirens of the Norse Sea is a strange book, because it’s two stories in one collection, neither of which have anything to do with each other although they’re both about Vikings living in a world where merpeople are real and engaged in a struggle with the landpeople. So it’s a bit odd, but you still get two stories for the price of … well, two, but still! This is by Françoise Ruscak and Gihef (the writers of the two stories, respectively, although the story of the first is credited to Isabelle Bauthian) and Phil Briones and Marco Dominici (the artists of the stories, respectively), with Ben Croze and Victoria Pierce as translators. It’s published by Humanoids, because of course it is!
This is a nice-looking book. Both Briones and Dominici are obviously from the “European” ligne claire tradition, as their styles are clean and similar to each other (I always think of this kind of art as “European,” even though, of course, anyone can do it and many Europeans don’t, but whatever). Briones has a slightly rougher style and he uses a little more black, so his Jörmungandr, for instance, is a cool-looking monster. He puts the mermaids in armor, which works with his line, as he makes the armor a bit beat-up, showing their warlike nature a bit more. Dominici, on the other hand, has a slightly thicker line, but his line work is a bit cleaner, so his people look a bit more solid and he keeps his mermaids sans clothing, so their natural markings are more prominent. Both artists are good at action, and their coloring is bright and clear, so that nothing is hidden or murky. In stories that take place around the sea, this is important, as lesser colorists might make things too dark.
The stories are solidly entertaining, but neither are too challenging, either. In the first one, the son of the chief wants to make peace with the mermaids, and while his father isn’t jut a bloodthirsty villain, he also has to worry about the entire village, so he wants to tread carefully. Things seem to be going well until, of course, they don’t, and people have to die. In the second story, a young woman who’s in love with the heir to the throne (so to speak) finds herself in the middle of conflict with the mermaids, and it turns out that she’s a mermaid herself, one abandoned on the surface world who has to hide her true nature (as mermaids become human-looking on land, she can pass as a human easily enough). Of course she has to choose between her two natures! There’s not too much else going on in the stories – there’s no grand theme working its way through them, just that people occasionally suck and good people sometimes get hurt when powerful people clash. It’s not rocket science! I was a bit annoyed in the first story with the behavior of the young future chieftain, who seems to be devoted to one person but throws her over pretty easily, leading her to make some questionable choices herself. I do not like stories in which people who appear to be in good relationships bang the first person who comes along and even looks at them favorably, but it still happens far too often, and even in this story, one would think someone who’s as smart as he’s supposed to be would think of the village first before sticking his dick wildly into places that he knows will get him into trouble. It’s even worse because, as usual, he gets away relatively scot-free while the other two people in the equation don’t. Dudes who stick their dicks where they don’t belong ought to get them chopped off, is all I’m saying.
I don’t really have much else to say about this comic. It’s entertaining, nice to look at, and doesn’t do anything terribly wrong. It’s a good book, but it’s also not terribly memorable. If you like Viking stories or mermaid stories or medieval stories or even monsters stories, it’s pretty keen. So that’s that!
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
For some reason, each of the panels reminded me of American artists: Steve Rude/Mike McKone/Paul Smith, and P. Craig Russell.
Are you all caught up on your reviews yet?
How far behind (or ahead) are you?
Well, those dudes all have a clean, thin(ner) line, so the comparisons aren’t too far off!
The last review will be up on the 16th. So ten to go!