You can tell by the name alone that Brian K. Vaughan has big plans for this ongoing series of comics, the first six issues of which are collected in this book. The name conjures up thoughts of Norse mythology, but Vaughan doesn’t lean too heavily on existing religion (and actually, his characters seem more like Christianity’s angels and demons than Viking icons), but instead has created his own pantheon of characters. However, as with all good sagas, they carry a burden of epic family problems that are Shakespearean in their earth-shattering scope.
The story starts with a birth, the daughter of two soldiers from opposite sides of a long war. Narrated in the past tense by the girl herself, we then follow the parents in their attempt to escape their seemingly inevitable separation. Meanwhile, both of the warring sides set out to look for them, along with a mysterious third group and an eclectic mix of bounty hunters.
The writing is well up to Vaughan’s usual standard, showing his flair for world-building and unputdownable episodic story-telling. He throws us straight into the depths of his world without much explanation or back story, but the strength of his characters lies in their universality. We get to know his players before we know everything about them, which leaves the path open for plenty of Vaughan’s twists and turns.
Fiona Staples’ art is just as accomplished, bringing life and expression into Vaughan’s characters and their alien worlds. It’s beautifully understated, calm and measured. Staples pulls out the shocks where Vaughan’s written them in, but creates a sense of normality elsewhere, despite the unusual series of of characters, locations and situations.