Friday, March 31, 2023

"Heimdall," is a Fascinating and Gorgeous Graphic Novel

Max Baitinger created the original graphic novel for one of my favorite indie publishers, Rotopol. Originally published in German, an English language edition is just now out. Many people are familiar with Norse mythology and the characters it contains thanks to assorted pieces of popular culture ranging from children's books to retellings to versions geared more towards grown-up and even popular Marvel comics and movies. Many yarns seem to focus on Thor and his father Odin, but Baitinger realizes that one Norse character deserving of some spotlight is the all-seeling Heimdall.

In the book titled for Heimdall, it focuses on what he sees and why he's important. Heimdall is there to warn everyone about the wolf that will eat the sun and kick off Ragnarok. He watches as humans learn from Odin or benefit from Thor's control of the weather. He witnesses as warriors practice battling and feast in the halls of Valhalla. He waits and observes how cyclical everything is with life ending and restarting anew. Repetition is a big part of, "Heimdall," as he reiterates everything happening and then happening again, the only constant seeming to be Heimdall sitting there, waiting and watching for the wolf to eat the sun. It results in a thoughtful tale where we don't pity or envy Heimdall. He just is.

Baitinger's artwork is intriguingly minimalist. He draws Odin as a bit of an imperceptible blob and Thor as a big and eagerly grinning force. Physical things such as actual clouds or forests intermingle with more ethereal forces like the mythological wolf that is due to eat the sun which Heimdall often discusses his looking out for. The book is entirely black-and-white, with the sharp black shapes standing out from the bright white space in a striking fashion. In a segment where the book discusses what could go wrong if Hemidall fails to warn everyone of the wolf eating the sun switching to a ton of dark inking really captures one's attention.

Between the clever wordplay and plotting of, "Heimdall," along with the intriguing artwork I really enjoyed reading about him in his self-titled book. As a character that doesn't always get as much discussion as the heroic Thor or such I appreciated a book making Heimdall the focal point. I'd highly recommend you have your comic store/book shop/library get a copy of the English language edition of, "Heimdall," as it just recently came out or you can always order a copy from Rotopol's website. It's a superb book.

5 out of 5 stars.

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