How can I describe Heathen, by Natasha Alterici (who both wrote and did the art), from Vault? Frankly, it's the comic I've been waiting for for a long time. I honestly got chills when I read the description on the back:
Aydis is a viking, a warrior, an outcast, and a self-proclaimed heathen. Aydis is friend to the talking horse Saga, rescuer of the immortal Valkyrie Brynhild, and battler of demons and fantastic monsters. Aydis is a woman. Born into a time of warfare, suffering, and subjugation of women, she is on a mission to end the oppressive reign of the god-king Odin.
But even though I expected a comic that would kick ass, I was still surprised. Yes, Aydis is the comic book heroine I've been looking for, and how can I NOT love the Norse setting and plot? But this isn't just a tale about a warrior fighting the powers that be. It's also a story about love and acceptance. About fighting so that other people can find love and acceptance. It's about throwing off the shackles of those who tell you who you can be and who you can love, and staying true to yourself and your own power.
One thing I liked about the comic, which was unexpected was that the female characters work together. They are opposed at times, but they aren't petty or "bitchy" toward each other, as I've come to expect often times. I went into this expecting to have to choose sides, especially when Freya came on the scene, but I didn't have to. Freya is exactly how I think of her in my mind, just as the goddess of love should be. The women care for each other and look out for each other. At the same time, the men aren't just looked down upon as the enemy. There are men who are portrayed as wonderful supporters and heroes themselves. Male readers will still feel included and they definitely have a part to play in the story.
The artwork of Heathen is amazing, harsh yet lovely at the same time. Aydis is so expressive, eevn the animals' personalities shine through (though there is more to many of these animals than meets the eye).
I can honestly say this is one of the top comics I've read in the past couple years. PLEASE, comics publishers--more like this!
Melanie R. Meadors is a writer of fantasy stories and comics, her work most recently appearing in the anthologies Champions of Aetaltis and Kaiju Rising II: Reign of Monsters. She is the co-director of the Gen Con Writer's Symposium and the publisher at Outland Entertainment. Melanie also edits anthologies, including Hath No Fury, Knaves: A Blackguards Anthology, and Tales of Excellent Cats: A Monarchies of Mau Anthology, which is set in the world of the popular role playing game, Pugmire. She is a content editor and publicity specialist at the RPG game company Mechanical Muse, and has written game settings for the RPGs Tiny Dungeons 2e and Tiny Frontiers 2e. She is a blogger and general b*tch monkey at The Once and Future Podcast. You can learn more atmelaniermeadors.com