Valhalla Mad, written by Joe Casey and illustrated by Paul Maybury, begins with the landing of three legendary warriors from a cosmic world called Viken. The Glorious Knox, Greghorn the Battlebjorn, and Jhago the Irritator have traveled far and wide to reach New York to partake in the Glutttonalia, a night of drinking and merriment from one bar to the next. Along the way, secrets are revealed, friendly acquaintances are reunited, stories are told, and the struggles of immortality and mortality are discussed. It sounds like an engaging tale with characters resembling Marvel’s Thor and the Warriors Three, but deep down it is a confusing mixture that fails to entertain.
From the title, Valhalla Mad, you may assume you are going to read a parody of Norse mythology, but this story takes more from the Marvel comics version than historical. I found the three main characters to be very annoying personality-wise, while their appearance was reminiscent of embarrassing superheroes with the multicolored clothing and useless appendages (the Glorious Knox has huge, ankle high boots, while his cousin Jhago possesses yellow insect-like legs along with a glowing mace for a hand). However, what is really irksome was the language. Because they are intergalactic immortals from a world of legendary heroes, it is only appropriate that they speak in an archaic language and remark, time and time again, about the battles they have fought together. This parodies the same speaking style that has been used in Marvel’s Thor comics since the 1960s and is used to remind the reader where the characters come from, but it’s constant use makes the dialogue becomes tedious to read.
The comic’s artwork failed to engage me as a reader. The trio’s colorful outfits makes them look weird, which was the obvious intention, but the comic’s overall color and style does not add value to the intended story. There isn’t anything that makes the style stand out, other than a few odd facial expressions and overuse of solid colors in a number of scenes. However, what I found most disappointing was how the creators’ intended to produce a story about the struggles between immortality and morality, but failed to live up to the satirical potential that was available. Indeed there is some humor sprinkled into the drama, but with unappealing characters and simple artwork that fails to bring everything together, it is difficult for the reader to chuckle at the little jokes or feel sympathy when it is discovered that a few of the heroes’ human companions are long gone.
Valhalla Mad is rated as T for teens, but I can not imagine many teenagers being interested in reading this comic. With it’s irritating characters and cliché story, this would be a difficult sell for any teen. An older audience, or fans of Marvel and Thor, may be more inclined to try it, especially if they recognize the resemblance between the two comics. But unlike the famous Norse god and his comrades, Valhalla Mad leaves readers scratching their heads in confusion and annoyance.
by Joe Casey
Art by Paul Maybury
Image Comics, 2016
Publisher Age Rating: T for Teen