Victory belongs not to the strong … but to the cunning.
Writer: Nick Bermel
Artwork: Jason Muhr
Colors: Maxflan Araujo
Letters: Kurt Hathaway
What They Say:
Sigurd and Freya square off against the fearsome Bloodaxe who seems unbeatable, As their battle rages, the mysterious voice beckoning to Sig becomes louder and louder. Will Sig be able to defeat Bloodaxe and this voice. Or will the two of them prove too great a challenge for the mighty dragon-slayer?
Content (please note that portions of review may contain spoilers):
With Sigurd having recently recovered from his battle with his serpentine nemesis, this valiant hero now must face a beast of a man who takes great pleasure in slaughtering all who stand in his way and one his new companion Freya needs his help in defeating – a monster who fittingly calls himself Bloodaxe. With namesake weapon menacingly threatening to cleave his skull in half, Sig finds this brutal savage almost too much in comparison with Fafnir and yet he knows he is not alone as Freya saves him from deadly blow and reminds the dazed man with a gruff remark. But as muscular warriors trade ineffective strikes, the one named Erik makes an offhanded comment of taking the blazing sword as a trophy to which it is answered with a searing mark branded into his cheek, wholly returned by a stunning blow with a knee causing his foe to stumble backward. It is within this lull to which Sigurd once again hears the ominous voice echoing in his mind, urging the crimson-haired warrior to give into primal desires to burn and destroy everything before him … with only Freya’s startling shout to jar him back to the battle at hand.
As his awareness shaken back to the present, Sigurd recalls when Regin first handed over the sword commenting how the weapon would not allow anyone to touch it returning such impudence with a scorching reminder it belongs to one man. With this moment is still fresh the unconventional fighter takes that temperament and uses it to his advantage, tossing the blade to Bloodaxe with the expected outcome to be the same and it does not take long for the receiving hand to be promptly charred beyond recognition. Now enraged with a loss of limb the primitive brute is quickly put down by twin flurries of fists and feet, only to have his reign of terror finally ended once the remaining hand is seared with another swift strike of a flaming blade. Although their battle is now ended the pair return outside to see if they can lend any aid, however, they are surprised to see Freya’s men being helped by the ferocity of the village’s women, previously taken prisoner but now free to vent their rage upon these invaders. Thanking these unlikely rescuers the saviors display the defeated Bloodaxe and promise he will be served justice, but are promptly answered by these homeless survivors by asking Freya if they may swear fidelity to her since they have nothing left in this burned out husk. With a new army behind them, this impressive force returns to Sigurd’s town to plan their next action, although recovery of their strength is at the foremost objective before setting off again … and yet can this leader trust himself to do the proper thing when the time is right?
With such an epic closure for the last issue, I was wondering how writer Nick Bermel could make this series any better and then we receive this spectacular battle, which feels as if it were taken from any memorable heroic saga. We always knew Sigurd was special since returning from Fafnir’s cave, but now the narrative expands upon this uniqueness tapping extensively into the source material of Völsunga saga and highlighting his relationship with the sword plus its supernatural powers. But if this relationship is not thrilling enough, one cannot reflect upon the character Freya and her place within Norse mythology: she is named after the goddess associated with war which seems fitting for her personality and is essential to this narrative in what occurs after their victory. One cannot but cheer to see the women who were once prisoners fighting for their lives, becoming ever fiercer warriors than the men in their savior’s army, however, what happened next is what makes this turn so special … to watch these amazing females swear loyalty to Freya. Although they may be seen as soldiers in this version, one cannot but equate this force of women with another famous team of warriors – the valkyries and while the ones in myth were not thought of as combatants since their primary objective was to escort the honored dead to either Valhalla or Sessrúmnir, with the latter being the resting place overseen by Freya and thus her association as the leader of the Valkyries. It is details like these which make Bermel’s story so engrossing, allowing the reader to delve deeper within traditional Norse stories and thus tying them into a title which gleans its themes from those worthwhile narratives, anchoring adventures which become the foundation of this fantastical story of heroic proportions and thus allowing audience to become enthralled with the trials and tribulations of Sigurd and Freya. It is due to this influence that the reader has become so fascinated by the escapades of these twin crimson avengers and wonder what can happen next as we approach the end of this wondrous series … one can only hope and wait in anticipation.
And to match the highly motivational story we have an equally enthusiastic opening action splash, one in which you can almost smell the manliness of the combatants, their bulging muscles straining to gain the upper hand and background flames licking their bodies all for but a taste all as artist Jason Muhr attempts to constrain this forceful conflict within one page with his excellent usage of prominent line work and attention to detail. And yet the issue would be meaningless if not for Maxflan Araujo’s dynamic usage of color illuminating the excitement, a wondrous balance of light and shadow enhancing the grimaces of determination, immersive explosions of background effects to denote moments of conflict and amazingly skillful nuances of tonal shading to provoke uncommon reactions from readers as to the spectacular drama occurring upon the limitations of the page. You cannot but become entangled within this arresting panorama with so much happening around out heroes – Sigurd flexing his strength against Bloodaxe and a dauntlessness Freya proving herself to be a match for any man all with the action progressing seamlessly without allowing the audience to take a breath to calm ourselves, just as our protagonists find themselves cornered with each step they take forward. And yet it is the sheer momentum within this dance of death which makes the moment so memorable, a need to place ourselves within each person’s shoes and feel the anguish of every participant and hoping our heroes win, but at the same time thinking with the reputation of Erik he may not survive this battle. The sheer audacity within the fight is ambitious, to watch Sigurd struggle with his inner voices and Freya present a beautiful front of assertive determination … this is how you stir interest within a story by provoking the reader to make an emotional investment with extraordinary visuals which draw us into the series so completely you begin to wonder if your friends will even make it to the end of the series alive.
Dragonsblood creates monumental interest within this issue which makes us wonder if the Norns themselves are conspiring against Sigurd and Freya, wishing to cut their lives short all to make things more interesting. The thought-provoking story and amazingly engrossing artistry compound the wonder we see within their struggles, and with each page you begin to doubt if they will survive these mounting events which threaten their very existence. However, it is this interest which makes you want more … to delve deeper within their future and hope beyond all reasoning these heroes will live to see their legends thrive.
Age Rating: T (for Teens)
Released By: Zenescope
Release Date: July 3rd, 2019