Erick Redfur is no warrior. A farmer with a checkered past, Erick’s life is turned upside down when he is exiled from his home to the western land of Ashgard. A chance encounter with a group of savage warriors brings him to the attention of the village chief, Jarl Ralla, who blackmails Erick into joining a scouting party to discover the whereabouts of the savages. Forced to work together, Erick and his new band of brothers (and sister) must learn to trust in one another as they navigate the harsh wilderness and uncover the truth about their deadly enemies, not to mention Erick’s own inner demons. Did I happen to mention they’re all squirrels?
With Sons of Ashgard: Ill Met in Elmgard, creator Chad Corrie introduces us to a whole new world of fantasy, adventure, and anthropomorphic animals. The result is an original graphic novel with shades of “Redwall” and “Lord of the Rings” that will have you clamoring for the next volume. Corrie deserves extra points for developing a world that is inspired by Norse mythology and Viking history rather than your typical kingdom of Ye Olde English. Led by Ralla’s soldier Soren, the cast includes the kindhearted Gorm Woodson, berserker Henrik, warrior Rolf, and the lovely but violent shield-maiden Bruna. While everyone is likable in their own way, this is mostly Erick’s story so his fellow scouts don’t get much in the way of character devlopment, an oversight that will hopefully be rectified in future volumes.
Joining Corrie on his adventure is artist Matt Wendt, a star in the making. His style and designs are evocative of Stan Sakai’s “Usagi Yojimbo”, trading feudal Japan for a Scandinavian countryside. Each of the main characters have their own distinct look and personality, while even the background critters are expressive. While both the writing and art are strong, Wendt’s cartoony style occasionally downplays the deadly serious tone of the story. As such, the subject matter and violence may be too intense for younger readers, especially those who take issue with seeing furry creatures eviscerate one another. The only real levity or humor comes at the expense of the portly Gorm, whose gut is as big as his heart, if not more so. As a standalone adventure, Sons of Ashgard: Ill Met in Elmgard is a solid OGN for audiences young and old but also proves to be a strong start to what will hopefully be a long-running series.