It’s 1014 A.D. and Ireland is occupied by Viking Hordes. During the 11th century Norsemen were on the verge of taking over the Irish Isle. However, it wasn’t until the 12th century that the tide began to turn when the Vikings gained a stronghold and usurped the power of the Celts. History aside “Northlanders: Book Two The Cross and The Hammer” collapses this timeframe together to show a story of a man battling for the sovereignty of his nation and keeping his daughter safe.
It’s a well executed, noble effort where an Irishmen uses guerilla tactics to devastate the Vikings. His one weakness is his daughter Brigid. Think of Marvel’s the Punisher and you’ll get a clear understanding as to why you should never get close to anyone when you make yourself a one-man army. There are no surprises here as a solid story written by Brian Wood and solidly illustrated by Ryan Kelly shows the emotional investment that this man has for his country. However, there is one point where the story falls apart, and unfortunately it’s at the most inopportune times.
Many of these instances surround the relationship our protagonist has with his daughter Brigid. She constantly puts herself in danger and when she confronts him regarding her childhood, she suggests that it was better to be raped by marauding Vikings than to be raised by a father who tried to protect her. Her constant whining and yelling for her Da to save her or not leave her alone equally grates on the reader’s nerves. Her character is ill-conceived and a contrived, misogynist construct that demeans the acts of Irish women who took an active part in defending their land. If anything Wood could have made her a badass in training. Under the tutelage of her father they would have been a formidable team. Instead we have a weak female who is always in need of rescuing.
It is difficult to get past the poor conception of the only female character in this collected trade (issues 11-16). Still, the striking artwork may see you through.