On October 21st, Ubisoft’s’ mega-hit stealth homicide simulator franchise returned to comics in the form of the first issue of ASSASSIN’S CREED VALHALLA: SONG OF GLORY, published by Dark Horse Comics. Cavan Scott scripted the book while MartÎn Tûnica handled the art. The story is meant to set up excitement for the upcoming video game and introduce us to the two protagonists that we will later play when the game is released. While one might end with a better feel for one protagonist, this issue does not succeed in doing much more.
If you really enjoy gory depictions of Viking raids, this story is for you. However, there is not much more. The book is broken into two sections due to the fact you will be able to play as two characters in the game. One section focuses on Eivor, our female protagonist. She delights in conquering and pillaging. The comic does a great job helping us understand just who Eivor is, even if she is a little two dimensional. She is brave and strong, and she rushes at conflict head first, which is a little bit of a surprise for a series that has usually emphasized stealth and plotting each kill for a majority of the series. She has companions, but they are fairly forgettable Viking guys. They stand in the background and serve up exposition about how outrageous Eivor is.
There is an interlude that introduces the other protagonist Sigurd, Eivor’s brother. He has killed some people. That has made some people mad, and they want revenge. He deals with it. There is some intrigue set up about where his story might go in future issues, but that is about all you get here. Sigurd – is a Viking, and he is good at killing people.
The book concludes by returning to Eivor’s adventures, and it does set up that there is more going on in this than just violence. However, that is for another issue. This first gaze into this new Assassins’ World is basically to tell you combat will abound when you get to play the game.
MartÎn Tûnica’s art really is reminiscent of what Steve Dillon did in Punisher: Welcome Back Frank, which fits the comic because this kind of feels like Viking Punisher. There are two times in the book where our protagonists have to react to surprise attacks. Tûnica does a great job building the tension and conveying the rising desire to murder in the antagonists’ eyes and features. While the story is gory and violent, the art does not seem to romanticize that too much. This world is intentionally ugly at points and makes the reader deal with the ramifications of what they see in the action. As noted, this book focuses on two protagonists, and the pencils do a great job of introducing them and defining their look. Their companions are very hard to tell apart. The antagonists have a few moments to shine, but most are nondescript. The art does its best to make up for a lackluster story.
Michael Atiyeh’s coloring is the star of the first issue. The colorist uses a muted blue palette, and it gives the book a wild frozen yonder feel that is spot on. Even in the intense action scene, the world felt cold and harsh, which is due to the color choice employed in this work. Atiyeh’s color does a magnificent job of conveying the temperature of the world and pulling the reader in. Eivor’s adventure is outdoors, and the colors invoke a frigidness that makes one shiver. Eivor’s color conveys a coldness to her that makes it seem if she is cold-blooded. Sigurd’s sequence takes place indoors, and the reds and browns bring us inside and make us feel the heat of the action in this place. The colors of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Song of Glory are amazing.
The lettering provided by Richard Starking and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt is adequate. They can convey changes in volume with different types of word bubbles. The lettering is fine and does not distract from the story. The letters used to title locations use appropriate Norse inspired font. The words issued from the characters are average. They convey the words of the characters and not much else.
Dark Horse’s first issue of ASSASSIN’S CREED VALHALLA: SONG OF GLORY is an adequately executed depiction of Viking violence. We get a good feel for one character. We see their world is fairly brutal, cold, and violent. The end of the comic does give enough intrigue to at least make the reader consider picking up issue two. The art does a great job despite a shallow story, and the coloring is amazing.