"North World: Other Sagas" by Lars Brown

According to the cover, Lars Brown’s North World: Other Sagas contains “slackers, warriors and lovelorn pizza cooks are just a few of the heroes introduced in North World: Other Sagas! Their adventures bring them above the clouds, into cursed forests, and against all manner of evils. Viking raiders, cloud giants, pink Cyclops, demon curses, tribes of angry squirrels – if swords and magic don’t work, kitten throwing just might.”

The blurb, however, doesn’t accurately describe North World, so let’s discuss the short story called “Cloud Story,” as an example. The mercenary swordswoman Nico has hitched a ride with her old friend Capt. Harker on an air-sailing ship. En route, the crew discovers a pair of gods about to have a fight, and they decide to place bets and watch the bout. Nico is so enrapt with the match that she yells loudly enough to capture the gods’ attention, and they chase the air ship. Harker manages to elude the gods, but not before Nico gives one of them a black eye with her sword. As the story closes Nico and Harker make goo-goo eyes at each other.

Likes: My teen son chose to buy this book at Stumptown Comics Fest 2010 based on the cover. After reading it his opinion of North World was it’s a “collection of funny, sort-of cool short stories.” I liked the art – cartoony without being goofy, and it’s nice that Brown can vary his art depending on the story.

Dislikes: My problem was that most of the stories followed a similar pattern: clever set-up, a frisson of love interest, some irony mixed with smashing, and a slightly funny ending. One or two of those in a collection wouldn’t be bad, but 10 in a row became monotonous. Maybe it works better as a web comic (www.north-world.com). Or, maybe I should try North World 1: The Epic of Conrad, which judging by the title promises to be a larger story.

If you’re a teen boy, or into irony, or have ever wondered what Cimmeria would be like if you swapped Conan the Barbarian for Clive the Hipster, then get Lars Brown’s North World: Other Sagas.