Overview

Runes of Ragnan #2

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Runes of Ragnan #2

Credits

  • Words: Ty Gorton
  • Art: Josh Medors and Bud Cook
  • Inks: Josh Medors, Ryan Winn, and Jonathon Glapion
  • Colors: Jay Fotos
  • Story Title: N/A
  • Publisher: Image Comics
  • Price: $3.50
  • Release Date: Jan 5, 2006

The fire giant Surt walks the Earth once more and two immortal brothers face off in a centuries-spanning epic influenced by Norse mythology.

For millennia, the druid order known as the Guardians of Oak has shielded the human world from the "immortal realms," the supernatural and mythic phenomena that mankind cannot truly comprehend. In this, their agent has been the immortal Viking, Eldjarn, a man who dared to perceive the magic and to face it. Now, in present day, Eldjarn’s spiteful brother Gunnarr has resurfaced, unleashing the terror of the fire giant Surt upon the world.

Debuting at Silent Devil Productions, Runes of Ragnan made an unprecedented leap to Image Comics in a single issue, so the buzz on this book is steadily growing. Does it live up to the hype? At this point, I would say yes though I am not without a few concerns.

In terms of the story, I was impressed and captivated from the start. Any fan of classic mythology or epic adventure is given much to enjoy—immortal champions, secret religious orders, monstrous undergods, and plenty of action. As with many fantasy series, Runes presents a world where the everyday co-exists with the arcane and unknowable. The tenuous balance of those two aspects of reality presents many possibilities, as does the centuries-long blood feud between brothers. Writer Ty Gorton is painting with a broad canvas and combining one man’s vendetta with an ancient struggle between logic and belief. For Eldjarn, the fate of the planet and humanity’s perception of magic takes a back seat to his personal stake in all this—revenge on his traitorous kin.

While the story got my attention, the artwork produced a more mixed reaction. Penciller Josh Medors has talent, staging brutal battles and morbid executions as well as showing ingenuity in his panel layouts and the jagged archaic borders that surround said panels. The three inkers work together almost as one and colorist Jay Fotos gives us a bleak and subdued urban battlefield. The style Medors chose to work in though contained a few negative connotations (at least to my tastes). In some ways, it’s fitting that the book has been picked up by Image as Medors has a tinge of the styling that company used in the early 90s: Ultra-detailed imagery, an exoskeletal demon that is reminiscent of something out of Spawn, a warrior woman mixing battle armor and modern sexiness, etc. Granted, such elements permeate the comics industry and I may be just reading too much into it, but I would hope this intriguing story doesn’t venture too far into a stereotypical approach. One aspect where it certainly did catch me by surprise was the interlude drawn by Bud Cook, a series of elegant scrolls detailing the backstory of the Guardians and Eldjarn. Cook rendered this in a softer, more representational style that served as interesting contrast and evoked the simple illustrations of ancient myths and stories.

Runes of Ragnan presents an exciting tale of heroic fantasy and while I’m not certain yet what I think of the art, the series has definite potential.

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