Wednesday, 7 May 2008
‘Slaine: Warrior’s Dawn’ – Pat Mills (Rebellion)
Only halfway into my ‘Week of Love’ and I’m taking a short break, just to get myself ready for that final push! ;o) I wanted to get back to my ‘fantasy loving roots’ but I didn’t want something that was going to take ages to finish. Luckily for me, I had bought a ‘Slaine’ graphic novel in the last few days…
For those of you that don’t know, Slaine is one of the more iconic figures of the 2000AD comic, striding the Land of the Young killing his enemies (as well as Gods and monsters) and generally making himself very rich indeed. Unfortunately for him, the dwarf Ukko can always be relied upon to lose any money that Slaine makes! Does this sound like a Conan rip off to you? I guess it is in the sense that any barbarian in the fantasy genre is inevitably going to have a little bit of Conan in him. Slaine is a typical barbarian; all too fond of wine, women and wealth but any similarities with Conan end right here. Slaine’s world is steeped in Celtic mythology adding a depth that isn’t apparent in Conan’s tales, I was left thinking, ‘maybe things were like this back in the day…’ Well, apart from the ‘Time Monster’ obviously!
‘Warrior’s Dawn’ collects Slaine’s first few appearances in 2000AD as a young man returning, from exile, to his tribe now that the King is dead. It would be a pretty boring journey though if things didn’t happen along the way so Slaine has plenty to contend with. As well as the ‘Time Monster’ and a failed attempt at running a prison, Slaine must fight a running battle with the Drune priests who are ruining the land with their magic. Boats that fly are also involved and there’s a great battle with sky pirates! These are the main plot strands but it’s just scratching the tip of the iceberg really, there’s a hell of a lot going on with a ‘mini adventure’ on each page. A really exciting read with plenty of cliff hangers! Three artists each had a turn with Slaine’s early stories and there is a marked difference in the styles that they employ, it’s all good though and my personal favourite is Mike McMahon’s scribbly but really detailed take. There’s a really good site Here that gives you a feel of what McMahon’s artwork is all about as well as a peek at the story itself.
I had a great time reading this collection and it has whetted my appetite for more of the same. If you’re a fan of barbarians and Celtic mythology then this is a series that I think you’ll get a lot out of.