The Darkness: Lodbrok’s Hand Review

dklh001_cov_aThis is a good stand-alone issue, to be sure. It’s a simple one-shot, but it won’t reveal anything about The Darkness. It’s a very loose tie-in. Apart from one of the main characters being a medieval Darkness bearer, it could be just a generic sword and sorcery adventure. Written by Phil Hester with art by Michael Avon Oeming, Lodbrok’s Hand recounts the sad tale of Lodbrok, the captain of a Viking ship, who as a youth lost his hand. The crazy King Grimur was moving from village to village forcibly enlisting strong men in his army. When young Lodbrok’s family was taken, he, his magic-wielding sister Freydis and a few other youngens set on a harsh journey of revenge. They realise they’re outnumbered and outgunned, or rather, out sworded, so Lodbrok bravely, or foolishly, calls upon the creature known as the Black Captain. He’s big, he has goblin servants bonded to the oars of his ship, and he’s on Lodbrok’s side, for  a price. A bloody battle ensues. Heads are cut off. Freydis dies.Two dragons fight, and Lodbrok learns the hard way what his victory means. The twist at the end, in which the Captain revives Freydis to serve him as a slave forever, rather than Lodbrok himself is a nice one and shows the maniacal assistance that The Darkness offers. It’s an amusing enough tale. The story is so simple that a 24 page one-shot is all that’s needed. Hester has the speech of centuries past down pat and while this isn’t Oeming’s best work (that’s in Mice Templar-grab the TPB), his trademark harsh lines and strong forms are evident. His character and costume design is great as always, and looks like something from a Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy II, Pan’s Labyrinth) film. Go here for  a preview.

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