Skål!

Welcome to the Viking Issue

Inverse presents a series of stories that embrace the glorious weirdness, diversity, and curious nature of Vikings and how we depict them today.

Emilio Lopez/Inverse

Much like everything else in 2022, Vikings are a political issue. These Scandinavian seafarers receded into obscurity almost a thousand years ago, but their memory lives on today as a flashpoint in America’s endless culture war. Among certain white supremacist circles, a particular vision of Viking society offers a meaner, whiter, more patriarchal ideal to shape modern-day social values around.

Meanwhile, scientific research continues to debunk the myth that Vikings were as monolithic, malicious, and male as some who claim that heritage might want to believe they were. In response, Hollywood is leading the resistance to the old stereotype.

After avoiding the subject for years, director Robert Eggers brought his brand of heightened historical fiction to the Viking tale. The result was The Northman, a movie that subverts tired Viking tropes, but also fails to put off the most unsavory fans. (When asked by Inverse to speak directly on the white supremacists who have attempted to co-opt his movie, Eggers declined.) Next up, Marvel’s Thor: Love and Thunder offers audiences a female Thor in Natalie Portman’s Dr. Jane Foster and a female king of Asgard in Tessa Thompson’s character Valkyrie.

Jane Foster becomes Thor.Emilio Lopez/Inverse

The fundamental truth, however, is most Viking fans are just that — they just want to have a good time and get lost in the lore, whether that means watching your favorite actor go full berserker on-screen or slashing through limbs in God of War. To celebrate the release of Thor 4 (and Vikings in general), Inverse presents a series of stories that embrace the glorious weirdness, diversity, and curious nature of Vikings and how we depict them today.

This week on the site, you can read a deep dive into a Viking board game that was wiped out by chess — only to make a return centuries later. Then, catch up on the definitive oral history of the bizarre ‘70s comic that first put Mjolnir in a woman’s hands, as well as a deep dive into the facts and fiction behind the compelling myth of the Viking “maiden King.”

Stay tuned for essays reflecting on the most excellent and underappreciated Viking-themed games and movies, an original comic tracing Viking raids in Ireland, and an excerpt from River Kings, a new book by Viking scholar and regular TV and video game consultant Cat Jarman.

Grab a glass of mead, ready your hnefatafl board, and come along with Inverse this week as we consider our modern-day Viking myth-making. You can read new articles as they are published here and on our homepage every morning this week. Skål!

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