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Runes of Ragnan
posted August 6, 2008


Creators: Ty Gorton, Josh Medors, Jay Fotos
Publishing Information: Image Comics, softcover, 136 pages, August 2008, $14.99
Ordering Numbers: 1582409919 (ISBN10), 9781582409917 (ISBN13)

There's something almost sweet and innocent about this incredibly stupid and relentlessly awful comic, a blood and guts fantasy told in the rhythm of Spawn that became one of the emblematic titles of the Jim Valentino as Publisher era at Image Comics after swinging over from Silent Devil following its first issue. Two brothers straight from a fantasy novel or at least the Italian movie version of same face off against one another in a modern setting while flashbacks fill us in on the details of their 1000 year struggle. Limbs are broken, oaths are sworn, eternal forbidden love is pledged, more limbs are broken, women are impregnated, prose is made purple, orders are shown upholding their centuries-old trust, bladders are emptied and ink is splashed. The plot advances in only incremental fashion as several pages of fight scenes tend to slow things down when you're counting on heavy exposition to move the narrative along, and events fail to come even close to any sort of satisfying conclusion by volume's end.

I would want to hug the person that bought this comic because it resonated with them. I would like to make them a sandwich and spend the afternoon watching local wrestling on TV with them and loan them my record albums. Reading Runes of Ragnan is like watching someone make a movie with an oiled-up weightlifter that can barely move or hold a sword after years of viewing the best fight films from Hong Kong. It's watching a kid drop a Boston album onto a turntable in the middle of a party whose soundtrack is a mix of eclectic music culled from someone's iPod. Its naked yearning for a kind of heroic overlay on life where everything looks awesome for a few seconds, and you can fight in a really effective way and you walk through tough guys like water and your life has mythic resonance and the most beautiful, incredible girl in the world is pledged to your heart, all says something to me that a lot of better art cannot. It makes me want to cry, this ugly but beautiful black velvet painting of a funnybook.