In the centuries since they braved uncharted seas and conquered vast swathes of Northern Europe, Vikings and their myths have become a permanent fixture in the collective imagination. Their lore and legends have influenced many popular stories and characters, such as Marvel's Thor. Vikings and the Norse have been a wellspring of inspiration for comics, with their heroic sagas, journeys of exploration, and of course, burly men with beards and horned helmets sinking axes into each other. Here are 12 books worthy of residing in comics Valhalla.
Brian Wood et al., 2008–2012
Writer Brian Wood delves into a fictional Viking Age with various stories detailing the Viking way of life in this 50-issue series from Vertigo. Wood combines exhaustive historical research with modern narratives and sensibilities for a fresh take on Vikings. Contributing artists include Davide Gianfelice, Ryan Kelly, Daniel Zezelj, Dean Ormston, Leandro Fernandez, and cover artist Massimo Carnevale.
Andrew MacLean, 2013
Heads are indeed lopped and blood flows freely in MacLean's stylish and no-nonsense action series. Norgal, a brawny Viking warrior, travels the Northern seas with his companion, the severed head of Agatha the Blue Witch, facing down monsters on an evil island where all is not what it seems.
The Viking Prince
Created by Robert Kanigher and Joe Kubert. First appearance 1955
The Viking Prince is a relatively obscure DC character who was introduced in The Brave and the Bold in 1955 and starred in the first 24 issues of the series. Over the years the character (always named Jon but with different surnames) has appeared in a number of series, including Our Army at War and Justice League of America, with various backstories and physical appearances. In 1991 a standalone graphic novel, Viking Glory by Lee Marrs and Bo Hampton, established some of the character's earlier adventures.
Makoto Yukimura, 2005–present
Vinland Saga is a historical fiction manga that takes place during the reign of Danish King Cnut the Great and centers on the explorer Thorfinn and his role in the kingdom's politics and conflicts. The series, published by Kodansha, has won a number of awards in Japan and is currently on its 14th volume.
Valhalla (a.k.a. Walhalla)
Peter Madsen, Hans Rancke-Madsen, 1978–Present
A long-running Danish comic loosely based on the Norse poems found within the Elder Edda, published by Interpresse and later Carlsen Comics. Modeled on Franco-Belgian comics such as Tintin and Asterix, the series follows the exploits of a number of Vikings, as well as mythological characters like Thor and Odin. An animated film based on the comic was released in 1986.
Cullen Bunn and Joëlle Jones, 2013
Creators Bunn and Jones mash up Vikings with Frankenstein in this action horror series from Oni Press. After young Rikard falls in battle while defending a village from evil beasts, he is resurrected by witchcraft to continue the fight as a draugr (an undead warrior of Norse legend). A spin-off series, The Brides of Helheim, began in October 2014.
Ivan Brandon and Nic Klein, 2009–2010
Brothers Egil and Finn go about raising hell and plundering weapons from passing travelers, but their days of wanton violence begin to catch up with them when they target King Bram and his daughter Annikki. Brandon and Klein hack their way through this 9th-century crime saga from Image.
Erik le Rouge
Jean-Francois Di Giorgio and Laurent Sieurac, 2013
A French comic from publisher Soleiel, Erik le Rouge is based on the exploits of Erik the Red, who is credited with establishing the first settlement on Greenland. After he is banished from his native Iceland, Erik Thorvalsson (known as Erik the Red because of the color of his hair and beard) embarks on a quest to find a rumored new land.
Hägar the Horrible
Dik and Chris Browne, 1973–Present
For more than 40 years and in 58 countries, the day-to-day life of a Viking has been presented in gag-format in this popular daily comic strip syndicated by King Features. Hägar lives with his wife Helga and two children, and often raids surrounding villages with his crew. While Hägar is indeed a beefy warrior, he is also a lovable family man and a bit oafish.
Garth Ennis and Glenn Fabry, 2003–2004
Probably comics' most famous Norseman, Thor battles a hoard of zombie Vikings in this miniseries from Marvel's MAX line. After a curse forces them to sail the Atlantic for 1,000 years, an undead crew of Viking invaders eventually land in New York City. It's up to Thor, Doctor Strange, and three descendants of an old Viking clan to save the day.
Gods of Asgard
Erik Evensen, 2007
Cartoonist Erik Evensen adapts Norse lore in this Xeric Award–winning anthology from Jetpack Press and Evensen Creative. He covers the major stories containing Odin, Thor, and Loki including Creation and Ragnarok, and offers readers a faithful, unembellished telling of the myths and legends of the Vikings.
Jean Van Hamme and Grzegorz Rosiński, 1980-Present
Thorgal follows the adventures of Thorgal Aegirsson, who as a baby was found inside a mysterious, otherworldly capsule. After being ostracized from his Viking town due to his origins, Thorgal travels the world in search of sanctuary and freedom. The series (originally published in French by Lombard Editions and later translated into English by Cinebook) mixes Norse, medieval, science fiction, and fantasy elements, and its most recent album was released in 2013, written by Yves Sente after Van Hamme left following the 29th volume.