The second issue of Legend Eternal begins with battle immediately being joined as Scotland’s immortal protector Saltire and his Guardian allies must stand against the first wave of Viking invaders, whose surprise landing on the Scottish shores was aided by magical means from an old enemy and aid from someone else far closer to home.
The battle sequences are suitably dramatic affairs, each panel heavy with action but never cluttered, seamlessly switching between characters and positions to better encompass the full breadth of their scale. Many of them lack any speech so you can instead hear the clashing of steel and the screams of the dying practically echoing from the pages, all occurring beneath a sky of scorched amber that reflects the flames of war burning beneath its omniscient glare. Far from the overt heroics that warfare is often portrayed as, one page serves to reflect its grim reality, gradually pulling out to reveal covered corpses lain out in countless rows as cold rain weeps from the heavens in sorrow at the senseless slaughter.
The Saltire series is not entirely fantasy but is in part historical, and an unfortunate aspect of Scottish history is the nation’s frequent inability to unite and its people’s tendency to engage in backstabbing for personal gain. Greed can often be an all too human motivator, but when undertaken at the expense of others it becomes unjustifiable, and those who do can only lie to themselves for so long. The story looks at the bonds between the mighty but still mortal Guardians, and while their duty has bound them together in brotherhood, it also means that any betrayal cuts that much deeper. As well as the battles to hold back the berserker onslaught, the plot also includes a power struggle between rival sons, its resolution suggesting that in the long run loyalty becomes its own reward while those who engage in treachery will receive the punishment they deserve.
The issue incorporates further details continuing the mythological themes that have run through the comics right from their very beginning, reinforcing the feeling that even though the featured events begin and end swiftly, their effects will be felt for a long time to come. Although things are quelled at the issue’s end the respite will not last, and we can only await issue #3, when things are promised to really kick off.
SALTIRE: LEGEND ETERNAL #2 / AUTHOR: JOHN FERGUSON / ARTIST: LYDIA PRAAMSMA, KASEY SCHIAVONE / PUBLISHER: DIAMONDSTEEL COMICS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW