Barbarians, battle-axes and degenerate dwarves
Disclaimer: This is an old-timers rant about my favourite 2000AD comic characters. It will contain errors due to memory loss, nonsensical assertions and outright lies.
Slàine, like any red-blooded, axe-wielding barbarian got into a little bit of trouble in his youth and accidentally had carnal relations with the wrong chief’s daughter. He’s been booted out of his tribe (the Sessair) and is wandering the ‘Land of the Young’ with his dwarf side-kick Ukko.
The storyline for Slàine is based heavily on Irish mythology (especially Cù Chulainn) but also seamlessly incorporates other Celtic and Scandinavian folklore along with injections of pure invention. The Slàine series is interwoven heavily with magic and ancient religions includingCrom Cruach the worm god, the Horned Godwho is a symbol of fertility and nature and the Earth Goddess Danu.
During Slàine’s adventures he battles a range of enemies. Foremost among them are the Fomorians, sea demons who channel the power of the earth through blood sacrifices to enable them to oppress the various tribes. Other key storylines include Slàine’s bid to become the High King of Ireland, his dalliances with the Earth God Danu (and attempts to become her husband) and his travels through time to join other heroic Celtic figures in their battles to save their people.
OK, what’s so special about Slàine I hear you ask? Apart from the spikey hair, the tartan trousers, his battle-axe called Brainbiter and his ability to bring on monstrous war spasms at the sight of blood, he’s a complex kinda guy and way smarter than your average barbarian. He questions his religious beliefs; he plays the politician to gain power and shows compassion and a wry sense of humour.
Slàine’s side-kick and best friend Ukko is a sarcastic, lying and lecherous dwarf. He brings the comedy relief and frequently takes the credit for Slàine’s successes. There is also some excellent interplay between Slàine and his sharp-tempered wife Niamh and some cameo roles for the druidess ‘Nest’ who sometimes plays the role as a narrator in recording his adventures and generally berating Ukko.
What else can you expect from this comic?...flying long-ships, epic battles, treacherous villains, giant worm-deities, Atlantis-esque tragedies and dragons. My favourite storylines from the old days were ‘The Horned God’, ‘Sky Chariots’, ‘The Time Killer’ and ‘Slàine the King’