By Andy Frisk
February 24, 2010 - 18:46
As soon as Gunborg exits his stay in quarantine, insisted upon by his chief rival Boris (the settlement’s Priest) since Gunborg has been outside the settlement, he gathers his loyal men and massacres everyone inside the Great Hall. When “the old man” (the settlement’s elder and leader) gasps, “Gunborg…why?” Gunborg responds with “You got weak. You forgot who you were. You betrayed us, old man.” Meanwhile, Hilda, (our story’s titular plague widow) has her own battle to fight as Gunborg’s nephew Jans makes some moves of his own…
With only three installments left in Brian Wood’s latest powerful tale of life in the Viking Age, “The Plague Widow” begins to heat up as the inevitable bloodshed begins. Gunborg, who has yet to reveal to the town's folk what he discovered outside the settlement’s walls, and at the nearby settlement he travelled to last issue, must either have outside support or some other confidence boosting information derived from his trip because he acts decisively and swiftly this issue. As another hallmark of Wood’s storytelling prowess, he has kept Gunborg’s discovery secret from the readers as well. We can only anxiously await a revelation that may or may not come next issue, but will definitely keep us interested enough to move Northlanders #26 to the top of next month’s reading pile.
There’s hardly any more praise that can be heaped upon Fernandez’s artistic work on this story arc in these looks at the current Northlanders saga. His sharp lines along with McCaig’s equally sharp and bold coloring work have remained consistent throughout the tale. The varying silhouetted and brightly lit profiles of Gunborg’s men as they cut down the inhabitants of the settlement’s Great Hall in the flickering firelight are chilling and horrific, and therefore great.
One wonders how Hilda, Karrin, and Boris will survive the onset of Gunborg’s usurpation of control of the settlement, and just what he discovered during his journey to the nearest settlement last issue. One also has to wonder what Boris’ ultimate motives are as well, as he obviously is after more than just survival. These answers will come soon enough, but the wait will be tough. Wood’s plot has us hooked and awaiting next month’s installment feverishly.
Rating: 10 /10