Comic Review 179 // Slaine: Warrior's Dawn


Well, it's happened. Warlord Games is releasing their version of a Slaine miniature skirmish game, and of course, I have signed on for it. But my knowledge of Slaine is exceptionally lacking. I've only read snips in progs and never really got beyond that. With this weighing down on me, I decided to fix this before the game arrived. Here enters Slaine: Warrior's Dawn.

Title: Slaine: Warrior's Dawn (Slaine #1)
Author: Pat Mills
Illustrator: Angie Kincaid, Massimo Belardinelli, Mike McMahon.
Commercial Fluff: TIR NAN OG – THE LAND OF THE YOUNG – IS A VIOLENT WORLD, HOME TO WARRING TRIBES WHO WORSHIP GODS BOTH BENIGN AND MALEVOLENT. In this first collection ofSláine's adventures, we meet one such tribe, the Sessair, brave warriors of enormous skill, and the best of them is a young barbarian named Sláine Mac Roth. Sláine is, among other things, a master of the "warp spasm'' – channelling the mystical power of the Earth through his body to become a mighty, monstrous berserker!
This classic sword-and-sorcery series is written by the 2000 AD founding editor Pat Mills (Savage) and features art by Angie Kincaid, Massimo Belardinelli (Ace Trucking) and Mike McMahon (Judge Dredd).

Format: 2000 AD App
Page Count: 208 pages

Review

As I mentioned earlier, my knowledge of Slaine is limited, sadly. Growing up as a teenager, I was absorbed with sci-fi. Meaning Judge Dredd, Rogue Trooper, and ABC Warriors ruled my 2000 AD reading, leaving Slaine on the outskirts. Warrior's Dawn collects some of Slaine's earliest stories and works as a great introduction to the characters and setting.

Now we are pretty lucky to be in the safe storytelling hands of Pat Mills, who uses Celtic and Irish legends to create this character. The adventures begin following the outcasting of Slaine from his tribe, and with his companion Ukko the Dwarf, they go in search of adventure in the Land of the Young. What I love about these one-off stories is the fact that Mills can create a series of stories that makes sense and grow and progress the characters. A problem a lot of one-off story arcs fail at. As we read through the adventure, we are slowly introduced to the world of Slaine, learning its history and its people. We discover that it is a world of grey with all sides being of good and evil. The "evil" bring order and stability to the land, while the "good" guys are willing to bloody and messy to achieve their goals; this leads to an array of characters who seem really believable.

The main characters of the book are:
  • Sláine MacRoth – Mighty black-haired Irish warrior, exiled from the Sessair tribe for an affair with the chief's fiancée Niamh. He loves fighting and often beats up Ukko. His favoured weapon is the stone axe Brainbiter, and he first experienced the Warp Spasm as a child. Warp Spasm, by the way, is when Slaine gets mad he experiences Hulk-style muscle growth and burns hot - One villain stops this from happening by using cold water.
  • Ukko –Sláine's dwarf sidekick and chronicler, named after the Finnish storm-god Ukko. He is lecherous and greedy; like most fantasy dwarves, he loves gold and has a business mind centuries ahead of the human characters. When Sláine becomes king, Ukko is appointed his "Royal Parasit" - his jester.
This unusual duo makes for a great pairing. Having different viewpoints on the world at large and in equal measure get each other into and out of trouble. The stories are definitely varied, and for the most part, there are no epic tales until the end; this allows the reader to just enjoy the ride and not get too bogged down on villains or plot hooks.

Now, of course, the easy thing to say "it's a Conan ripoff," and of course, yes, it is very inspired by Pulp-era fantasy like Robert E.Howard'ss work. Still, Slaine is a free spirit and highly unpredictable, whereas Conan follows a strict moral code. This leads to Slaine making choices I didn't expect. If he was a D & D character, he would be Chaotic Neutral, leaving you unknowing if he would help you or kill you, haha. The land is high fantasy but in an unique way, taking heavily from the lore of Europe and the old beliefs. This helps to a tale that is completely out there and deserving of respect.

The art is all classic black and white line art, with plenty of details to keep you hooked. And between the three artists, we are really treated to some beautiful storytelling. For me, the book ends on a high, and I am excited to start the next book, Time Killer.

I hope you enjoyed the review and check out more of my content.

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