Still Fantasy’s Comic Grandmaster
Tripwire continues its 100 Graphic Novels You Should Read While Stuck Inside with its thirtieth choice, Ragnarok: Vol.2: The Lord Of The Dead by Walter Simonson, reviewed by Tripwire editor-in-chief Joel Meadows…
Ragnarok: Vol.2: The Lord Of The Dead
Writer/ Artist: Walter Simonson
Colours: Laura Martin
Letters: John Workman
Here’s our second Simonson choice for our list of 100 GNS. Walter Simonson is a unique figure in comics. With over five decades as an artist and later as a writer-artist, he brings a kind of dynamism and energy to his work that many creators half his age lack. Ragnarok Vol.Two continues the epic tale that started in volume one of the last Norse god Thor and his quest to find meaning in a world where most of his contemporaries are gone. Unlike his Marvel run on The Mighty Thor, the Thor of Ragnarok is a dark and brooding creation. Begrudgingly assisted by the black elf assassin Regn and his daughter Drifa, Thor spends this part of the tale trying to hinder the evil machinations of Angantyr, Lord of the Dead, who intends to wipe out the surviving mortals and any stray remnants of the former pantheon of gods like Thor.
Just like its predecessor, Ragnarok Vol. Two is an epic high fantasy tale, perfect for fans of things like Lord Of The Rings and Game of Thrones. Unlike Kirby’s playground, Simonson’s milieu here is darker and more mythic, not a place that regular people would thrive or even want to necessarily visit. Thor here is a true force of nature, unafraid of supernatural threats and with a moral core of sorts while the black elf assassin Regn is motivated by concern for his orphaned daughter Drifa.
Visually, as ever, Simonson continues to dazzle the reader with his kinetic and dramatic pages. Helped by the brilliant Laura Martin on colours and letterer John Workman, Simonson is still the master of the ink line decades after he first burst onto the scene. He understands the simplicity and power of a comic page that has to rely purely on its images. The hardcover format perfectly suits Simonson’s story too. The inclusion of the variant covers by the likes of Bill Sienkiewicz, John Paul Leon and Mike Mignola is a nice touch too.
Simonson is in his seventh decade but age has not diminished his abilities. Ragnarok Vol.Two is a brilliantly realised fantasy collection with some exceptional art and an inventive story which proves that there are still some things that are better suited to the comics page than to film or TV. Simonson continues to be the master of fantasy comic art and no-one comes remotely close.
Ragnarok: Vol Two: The Lord Of The Dead is out now from IDW Publishing
Here’s links to the other graphic novels reviewed so far