RAGNARÖK: THE BREAKING OF HELHEIM, ISSUE #1: THE DOOM OF THE POWERS
Updated: Aug 23, 2019
Writer & Artist: Walter Simonson
WHAT IS IT?
A unique retelling of the Norse apocalypse from the best writer of Marvel’s Thor in recent memory.
Classic Norse Mythology as an inverted buddy-western featuring a talking squirrel. Think Clash of the Titans meets True Grit.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Years after the brutal death of the Aesir, the high gods of Asgard, Thor is wandering the land, aimless, destitute, and undead. With only a horse and talking squirrel, Ratatosk, by his side, Thor loses hope and sits before an undying pyre as a monument to his dead family…
Until he receives a message from his dead father, Odin. Learning the details of the Aesir’s final battle raises Thor out of morning and sparks a desire for revenge.
Only by slaying his enemies can Thor restore the land to a livable state and get the revenge he so desperately craves. But will he be able to before the spies of Helheim warn Surtr and end his quest before it begins?
Without turning into an exposition dump, the story manages to recount the entirety of the Ragnarök myth with exceptional detail.
An expansive color palette helps the reader keep track of important details and characters.
Conveys a huge amount of information on almost every page without ever feeling cluttered. The panel work is incredibly efficient and never wastes space. When there’s only three panels on a page, it’s because something big is happening, not because we’re trying to move along.
One of the best two page spreads I’ve ever seen highlighting the truly stunning artwork present throughout the comic.
Creates mystery through visual character details rather than dialogue, making the reader an active participant in the story.
Though a different story from the original myth, uses extensive knowledge of the source material to create satisfying details and a streamlined confidence in what could easily be a convoluted story.
Avoids playing out too similarly to Marvel’s interpretation of Thor, which both the writer and the audience are well familiar with.
Portrays the scale of the antagonists in a convincing way, making them more intimidating and raising the stakes. The World Serpent, for example, looks appropriately large and the gods, though mighty, are small in comparison.
WHAT DOESN'T WORK?
There are a few too many subplots starting in the first issue which clutters an otherwise cleanly told story.
A few words are inconsistently spelled throughout the book, switching back and forth between Old Norse and Modern English spellings. (i.e. Draugr vs Draugar).
Thor is able to both speak and drink without a lower jaw and that makes me uncomfortable.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
There’s plenty of derivative retellings of Norse mythology in our culture, but this is definitely a cut above the rest. Research and respect for the source material aside, it’s clear Simonson has a unique vision for this mini-series.
This issue manages to be exciting, action packed, and mysterious all while setting up a complicated backstory and setting several different plots and subplots into motion. The momentum of this first issue bodes well for the rest of the six-issue run.
It’s a fast-paced, action-packed, deeply informative dive into Norse Mythology with the story-telling chops of a decorated veteran of the industry behind it.
If you like epic stories or superhero comics, you’ll be right at home.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Ragnarok Vol 1: Last God Standing by Walt Simonson
The Judas Coin by Walt Simonson
Legend of the Ronin by Travis Heermann & Val Mayerik
If you like the art:
Thor by Walt Simonson
Umbrella Academy by Gerard Way & Gabrial Ba
Bloodborne: The Death of Sleep by Ales Kot & Piotr Kowalski
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Walt Simonson – Writer & Artist
Name Recognition: THE Thor writer and artist for decades.
Test of Time: 72 years old and still putting out incredible comics.
Award Winner: Has an Eisner and two Harvey awards.
Laura Martin – Colorist
Award Winner: Two Eisners for best colorist, Two Eagle awards, and a Harvey award.
Multitalented: Runs a comics site called Sequential Tart, “a webzine published by an eclectic band of women.”
Name Recognition: Has a long history working with DC, Marvel, and CrossGen, as well as several other large comic book publishers.
John Workman – Letterer
Dream Team: Since 1983 has frequently paired with Simonson on a large catalogue of comics.
Multitalented: Works as a writer, artist, and designer for comics in addition to his well respected lettering skills.
Workman is well known for lettering by hand and refusing to use digital fonts or computerized formats.
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