Published on February 4th, 2015 | by Kevin Sheath0
Slaine: The Brutania Chronicles Book One – Review
I haven’t read much Slaine. In his introduction to this volume writer Pat Mills describes this as a reboot of sorts and that’s true. You do not need to have read Slaine before. You absolutely have to start reading Slaine now.
I first read this story as it was serialised in 2000AD and was immediately drawn to the artwork. I’ve enjoyed the work of Simon Davis before on Black Siddha and Ampney Crucis but this is by far the best work of his I’ve seen. In his outro to this book he explains how Slaine was the reason he wanted to work in comics, and it shows. This has the feel of a man going in on his dream project. What he’s created here is, without hyperbole, one of the best looking comics I’ve read.
This isn’t your average 2000AD story. Due to the serialised nature of 2000AD (5 page stories every week) splash pages are usually rare. Double page spreads even rarer. This new Slaine throws all that out- there seemed to be double page spreads every week, sometimes more than one. Even when the pages aren’t technically splashes, the compositions often have the feel of beautiful full page art, though there are technically panels. Reading this weekly it was clear this was going to look incredible as a graphic novel, and it really does. You can buy this collection digitally but I strongly recommend you get the hardback for the full experience.
So what is this story about and how much do you need to know about Slaine to enjoy it? Basically what you need to know about Slaine is, he’s a heroic barbarian with an axe, who has killed a great many things in the past. Really, that’s it, and whilst there are references to old Slaine stories and characters here, you can absolutely go in blind and have a clear idea of everything that’s going on, something I haven’t felt with past Slaine stories.
The story here is called A Simple Killing, as Slaine travels to the village of Bladnoch with plans to murder a man called Kark who hired thieves to steal the treasure of the Goddess from him. Once there he is distracted by tales of his daughter Sinead, who has been kidnapped by the Drune lords who live on the island of Monadh. It’s basically an island where they imprison humans in order to breed crazy monsters. (Geographically it’s the Isle of Man.)
While Slaine is weighing up whether to go rescue her or to go to a crazy festival of music, mushrooms and mead he is interrupted by Sinead appearing from the sea, having escaped herself and the damsel in distress set-up is subverted as Sinead proves herself more than capable of fighting alongside Slaine against some crazy sea devils which have followed her.
Without going too much into the story (because you really should read this) I don’t think it’s a spoiler to tell you that Slaine ends up going to the island of crazy monsters and killing a bunch of them. Big ones. He cuts them up with his axe. It’s great fun.
There is a bit more going on here than just crazy monster killing, of course. A strong theme of fathers runs through this story- Sinead thinks her Father a coward, Slaine is embarrassed by his Father, (a drunken drifter) and the main bad Drune here is the son of a guy Slaine killed in a previous adventure. His name is Sloug h Thruc and he thinks he understands and can therefore beat Slaine through research of his Father. “Show me your Father” he says at one point “And I’ll show you who you are.”
That’s in there. There’s also a lot of Slaine killing daft looking creatures.
The good news is this is just the start. There will be two more books of this stuff. I’m hoping Simon Davis is brought back for more Slaine beyond that because I bloody love this but two more of these will do for now.
Did I mention you should get this? Get this.