HEATHEN #9/ Script and Colors by NATASHA ALTERICI/ Art by ASHLEY A. WOODS/ Letters by MORGAN MARTINEZ/ Published by VAULT COMICS
If you haven’t read the first eight issues of Heathen, that’s not surprising. This wonderful little independent series slipped under my radar until the first volume of it made the ALA Great Graphic Novels for Teens list.
Despite this, the single-issues of the comic went through several printings, as did the graphic novels collecting the first eight issues. It took several months before I was able to get a hold of the collected editions and I fell instantly in love with Natasha Alterici’s epic saga of one woman fighting against the Patriarchy.
That’s drastically oversimplifying the story of Heathen, but it’s a suitable summary for pissing off the Comicsgate crowd, who are really not happy that Heathen has been a critical and commercial success and is now being adapted into a feature-length film. Beyond that, all you need to know is that it’s about an Viking woman warrior, cast out of her clan for being a lesbian, who declares war on Odin and sets about doing everything she can to annoy the All-Father.
You can read the first issue for free on Comixology.
Heathen #9 picks up where the second graphic novel ended, with our heroine, Aydis, having made it to the Godlands. She is almost immediately confronted by two trolls. Aydis expects that she’ll have to fight, but is stunned when the trolls only take her prisoner and conspire to trade her to Odin in exchange for a member of their family. It is then that Aydis hits upon a bold plan…
The most notable thing about Heathen #9 is that it is the first issue by new artist Ashley A. Woods. Woods’ style is more streamlined than that of Natasha Alterici, but it is not so dissimilar that it seems radically different from what came before. This may be due to Alterici’s colors, which retain the same muted, pale palette, evoking the aura of the frozen North in every panel.
While new readers could jump on with this issue and get a good feel for Aydis and her story, I would suggest reading this saga from the very beginning. As it stands, Heathen #9 is a welcome return to form and a must-read for anyone who enjoys stories of powerful women and Norse mythology