Sentinel #12 Valhallasaur, Review
Dinosaurs? Vikings? Just one of those would be enough to sell a comic to me., Combine them, though, and I'll get excited. Sentinel #12 Valhallasaur is an issue that has me excited. Vikings have always been cool, and dinosaurs are wonderous creatures that I've always loved. That mixed with the previous eleven Sentinel issues, and hopes were high going into this.
Set in 950AD, Valhallasaur is the tale of three Viking ships that set sail for Norway. A storm blows them off course, and they end up at a mysterious island where dinosaurs still roam.
So, let's start with the art. Ed Doyle is back on Sentinel duties delivering some incredible black-and-white art. Ed has a distinct style that suits the retro British comic book era with a fine balancing act of filling in spaces whilst still keeping every panel clear to see. Ed's art features bold, thick lines with some thinner detailed art that suits the digest comic size.
The dinosaurs are the star of the art. And although this art style has limitations, panels can look great when done right. Dinosaurs still look scaly and full of bumps where needed, and parts can still look pretty gruesome without needing to use colours or finer close-up details.
As for the story, Alan Holloway teased during the Kickstarter that this isn't a simple two-way battle between Vikings and dinosaurs. There's a secret third-party involved, which I won't spoil here, but they show up around halfway through, and I can't say I expected it.
Alan spent a lot of time researching Vikings so that he could portray them as faithfully as possible, which says a lot about how he is as a writer. From the Icelandic colonies and leaving weak kids in the woods to how they actually look. One thing I remember from going to a Viking exhibition years ago was how historians aren't a fan of Vikings wearing horned helmets as there's no evidence that they ever wore them, despite what we see in films and TV. So it was pleasing to see no horned helmets.
In typical Sentinel style, things start off fine and progressively get wilder. Can Sten and Freya survive the trouble they land themselves in? Why are there still some dinosaurs alive on this island? What does the third-party want? Who are they? Can the Vikings get home? How will Vikings fare against dinosaurs? Some of these you'll get answers to, others you won't. Sometimes it's okay not to get all the answers.
My only complaint is that I want more. This is the kind of story that, if it were split over two issues, would be elevated to another level, with more time to draw the story out. But then that wouldn't be a Sentinel comic.
Overall, Valhallasaur lived up to the hype I wanted it to have. There are some beautiful panels of art, and the story surprised me where it went. It's a Sentinel story that's had a lot of care and attention given to it, which shouldn't be a surprise to Sentinel fans. Things really go off the rails halfway through, and it delivered what was promised. Another absolutely mad comic from Sentinel, which is what we've come to expect, that's entertaining from start to finish.
Also, a special shoutout needs to be given to Andy Lambert for the B cover. It's stunning and is definitely my favourite Sentinel cover to date. Absolutely superb work.