The Spider King by writer Josh Vann, artist Simone D’Armini and colorist Adrian Bloch, has finally been collected in trade format. In the book, viking warriors encounter alien technology which they fashion into weapons to fight invaders from across the stars. Is the premise of Vikings vs Aliens interesting enough for a full graphic novel?
While the artist duo of D’Armini and Bloch work well together, some of the images could do with a bit more color contrast especially in the darker scenes. Vann’s writing can feel a little vulgar at times with characters cursing constantly to the point of being distracting. The creators made a point of making their heroine, Sigrid, the polar opposite of a Red Sonja type. However, Sigrid comes across as a pastiche of Merida from Disney’s Brave.
The vikings and aliens are well-designed and different enough so that it’s always a blast to see a new character. The plot won’t change your life but it isn’t predictable in the sense that aliens show up and then everyone fights. The scene of the vikings discovering the aliens’ weapons is really fun and reeks of SciFi pulp in the best possible way. Vann does a good job weaving in characters’ conflicting motivations and there’s a great reveal as to why the book is titled The Spider King.
Overall, the creative team delivers on the core premise and even has some surprises thrown in. There’s a wide cast of endearing characters and scary monsters that’s beautifully rendered in a medieval art style. The Spider King is an easy recommendation to fans of comics in the vein of Hellboy and Head Lopper. I also feel that The Spider King is worth reading because it’s the premiere work of new talent. Judging by the art from D’Armini’s new potential projects (seen below), we could be witnessing the beginning of something really awesome.