Assassin's Creed: Valhalla - Song of Glory - Issue 1 - Review & Summary
Written by Sorrosyss, October 27th, 2020

Note: Non Spoiler Review, but a full Spoiler Summary and Analysis follows

Song of Glory is a new comic book release from Dark Horse comics, that acts as a preview story primer for the main upcoming game release, Assassin's Creed: Valhalla. This is the first such release from Dark Horse for the franchise, with previous comic releases mostly being produced in partnership with Titan Comics.

As with any new collaboration, there are a few differences to get accustomed to. The artwork is particularly gloomy throughout, with lots of muted colours suiting of the Dark Ages that are depicted. As you would also expect of the setting, the comic does not hold back in the violence levels, featuring multiple dismemberments and decapitations as well as copious amounts of blood. In that regard, it is nice to see that the comic does not want to shy away from the similar visceral brutality that we have seen present in the gameplay previews for the game.

As with the game itself, the comic focuses on the viking protagonist Eivor and is set within Norway during the mid-ninth century. We join the story amidst a standoff between two kingdoms, with a village besieged between the two warring factions. It is here we find Eivor, as she elects to join in the battle to fight in her adopted father's name. Through the events we learn a little about her background and childhood, as well as being introduced to a few of her friends, comrades, and even her brother - Sigurd. The comic technically marks our
first real insight into Eivor's personality, and paints the image of a staunch warrior, but also a woman with some deeper traumas that may yet come to the surface as her story unfolds. There is also a greater mystery to the character - but more on that later in the analysis below.

If there is only one slight downside to the issue, it is the length of it. At only 23 pages, this is comparatively shorter than most Assassin's Creed comics, such as the first issue of the Uprising series which ran to 37 pages. If you are a Modern Day fan as well, I am sorry to say that it is sadly completely absent here, which doesn't give us much in terms of framing narrative to work with. I suspect most fans will want the game itself to fill in those gaps though perhaps, and from that perspective the comic still succeeds in teasing fans who are eager to explore more of Eivor's world and the time period which it represents.

Song of Glory is available online now. Issue 2 is scheduled for release in November, with a collected graphic novel version expected next year.


Rygjafylke, south west Norway, 9th Century

A village burns, as battle erupts from invading raiders. Whilst villagers rush to take cover or escape the chaos, the viking Eivor stands atop a hill watching over the proceedings. She is joined by Dag and Tora, with the former of the two comrades questioning exactly what Eivor's strategy is for the battle. She states that the rival forces of Kjotve must be dealt with for daring to attack the village that is owned by her father, King Styrbjorn of Stavanger. Dag points out that they technically have not bent the knee to her father, to which she replies that by saving the village the inhabitants will likely pledge their whole allegiance. Tora points out their forces are outnumbered three to one, and Dag starts to explain an attack plan with a degree of stealth to aid them. However, the two soon realise that Eivor has already snuck down into the village and engaged the raiders in open battle. They rush down the hill to join her daring crusade.

The Dniester Trail, Bulgar Lands, 9th Century

Sigurd Styrbjornson, brother by adoption to Eivor, enters the hut of a swordsmith called Tekin. Sigurd explains that he is seeking out a blade without equal, one that even Brokkr (Blacksmith of the Gods) would find worthy. Tekin shows his finest blade to Sigurd, a sword made of crucible steel, coining its name as “vengeance” but explains that he cannot obtain it, as it was made for his brother. He further explains that his brother was killed by a norseman just like Sigurd, and that the gods have now granted him the chance for revenge. Two thugs come to the side of Tekin, but Sigurd merely expresses his disappointment at the attempt to subdue him, and quickly dispatches Tekin and his largest thug, leaving the female thug floored but still alive.

Sigurd's cousin, Knud, enters the hut and is mocked by Sigurd for arriving after the battle has occurred as usual. As Knud gathers the various weapons around the hut, Sigurd holds the “vengeance” blade to the throat of the female thug. She begs for her life, promising that she can show them a place with treasures beyond belief, and introduce them to the richest man alive.

Rygjafylke, south west Norway, 9th Century

Eivor continues to battle the raiders, until one manages to knock her to the ground. He begins to mock her, stating that he knows that King Styrbjorn killed her actual father whilst he begged on his knees. Eivor simply replies that she will never be put on her own knees, and promptly swings her blade cutting the raider's legs off at the knees. As he bleeds out and screams in agony, he begs to be put out of his misery so that he can reach the Great Hall of Valhalla with his ancestors, but Eivor ignores his request deeming him to be unworthy of such an honour and walks away.
She joins up with Tora, and goes seeking out Dag. They find the latter losing in a duel to a raider, which results in his shoulder being wounded before Eivor promptly comes to his aid. With the raiders finally defeated, the village elder approaches her. Eivor demands the

villagers swear fealty to her father in response to her saving them all from the raiders. The elder states that she has made things worse, and that Kjotve will simply respond by sending more men to the village. Refusing to stand with her, he charges Eivor and is immediately stabbed through the chest by her. The remaining villagers then silently accept her terms and fall in line.

Eivor turns around to find that the legless unworthy raider has seemingly dragged himself away to safety. She follows the blood trail to a barn, and steps inside to take a look. She is immediately attacked by an assailant, that is actually a young female slave wielding a broom, and is swiftly knocked to the ground by Eivor. She reveals herself to be called Gull, a seer, and that she knows stories of all the old gods. When she looks upon Eivor though, she questions if the face she wears is not in fact her own, and wonders what soul hides within her. Eivor calls her mad, and tells her that she will make a fine gift to her father.
Later that day, Eivor returns to Stavanger, stronghold of her father. Expecting praise for her victory in Rygjafylke and delivery of the seer, once she tells Styrbjorn the story she is instead berated by him for creating tensions with Kjotve, a force he has kept away from his home for twenty years. Pointing to the special collar on Gull's neck, he points out that she is a prized possession, and someone will surely want her returned, to the peril of all Stavanger.

Final Thoughts - Analysis

Though a relatively short issue, we were given plenty of insights into Eivor, and the relationships she holds with those around her. Coming across as a forthright and determined character, she certainly seems to fill out the protagonist role well. Norway definitely comes across as a desperate land at this point in history, and one can easily see how the allure of a new beginning in England would have called to someone like her.

Several of the characters introduced here are more than likely going to feature in the game, with a few like Dag and Sigurd already present on some of the gameplay previews for Valhalla. It will be interesting to see how each of these individuals develop, both in the comic and the game itself.

The biggest take away from the whol issue remains around the gender mystery of Eivor. We learn here officially (though it had been confirmed in a few interviews) that her current King father is not in fact her natural one, and that she is instead adopted - or at least, that is the story we are told. However, the seer Gull offers another insight. When she looks upon Eivor, we actually see the dual image of both a male and female face for Eivor. This is really fascinating, as it suggests that whatever is special and different about Eivor, it goes even beyond the Animus, namely as a historical character of the time can notice this element as well.
So what is the truth behind this mystery? At time of writing, we still do not know, and will likely not do so until we have played through the upcoming next game. We've certainly had a few strong guesses already as to what is going on, but with several mentions of Norse gods in this issue, it does seem that a connection to the Norse pantheon is being laid on heavily here. More specifically, it is hard to escape the symbology we have seen throughout Eivor's advertising (outside of the comic), especially with regards to Odin himself – such as the raven, the references to wolves, and even the Odin hallucination present in the original cinematic. Finally, Eagle Vision too has even been rebranded as “Odin Sight” this time.

By all rights, Odin was most likely an Isu. We have seen several times now in the franchise, how the Isu have tried to modify humans in their early beginnings, such as the hybrids Adam and Eve, and even the beasts created under the Olympos Project run by Aita – in turn potentially explaining again how we see yet more mythological creatures within Valhalla. We know that the Isu battled amongst themselves frequently, such as the War of Unification, therefore it is interesting to note that the comic directly references the Aesir and Vanir, two groups of deities whom in Norse mythology ended up unifying to a single pantheon after a war. Is it possible therefore that Odin
Source: AC Wiki
tried to protect his legacy through the manipulation of humanity in a similar fashion to Juno and Aita? He was reputedly killed by a wolf of Loki, ironically a shapeshifter, but is it possible that Odin, or rather his hybrid descendant bloodline – survived? If we follow this line of thought, we find some rather interesting revelations in the recent news that the canon version of the story of the game is not the purely male or female options, but rather the default mode of letting the Animus switch between the two genders at specific story beats. If you then couple this with the recent gameplay previews showing both Asgard, and Eivor experiencing visions of ancient times, then we can reasonably conclude that she is most likely seeing flashbacks to a previous life in her DNA – that of Odin. Male Eivor is most likely the appearance of Odin himself, and explains how both appearances of Eivor are technically canon. We have seen that Pieces of Eden can imprint both physical and mental properties upon a subject (such as the way Anastasia Romanova seemingly became Shao Jun for a few moments in Assassin's Creed Chronicles Russia), or even create beasts like the Minotaur we encountered in Odyssey. It is entirely possible that Male Eivor is simply an illusionary image as well. Therefore, if Eivor interacted with a Piece of Eden, such as Excalibur, then perhaps these ancient Isu memory strains can become stronger and explain how the body could change, or indeed how the Animus may jump between them as it explores the tapestry of Eivor's DNA. We've also seen some Isu like Consus able to inhabit their consciousness within a human body, so in an extreme stretch it could even be possible that the soul of Odin himself is within Eivor, and a simple shapeshift away from taking control of the body.

Alternatively, as Layla's Animus can reputedly see “calculations”, it's also possible that connecting the Staff of Eden in her possession to the Animus enables it to connect to the Nexus - a zone of existence that we know allowed the Isu to view calculations across time and space, and across multiple possibilities of reality. Maybe this is how we see a male or female Eivor, as differing realities collide across the multiverse contained within a single source of DNA. If we add the Isu DNA of Odin into the mix, then it is entirely possible that we can see how Layla might be experiencing two distinct lives from the one body sample. Whatever the explanation, I trust we will find out the true answers to this mystery before the next issue. Join us next time for issue 2!

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