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Kiss My Axe: the top five best Sláine collections to read now

Sláine: Kiss My Axe! is the brand new skirmish tabletop miniatures game, set in the world of Sláine – out this week from Warlord Games! Based on the legendary comic book by Pat Mills and Angela Kincaid, axes and swords clash whilst Earth and Sour magic lash out across the Land of the Young, as the Earth Tribes of the goddess Danu battle the decaying Drune Lords and the relentless Fomorian Sea Demons.

ORDER THE SLÁINE: KISS MY AXE GAME NOW >>

Newcomers lured into the historical, myth-filled lands of Sláine by this new game might be forgiven for being overwhelmed by the expansive fantasy realm suddenly available for exploration. With all of Tir-Nan-Og open to them, and the conflict between the Earth Tribes and demonic forces at play, perhaps it’s time to learn some important backstory.

And here are five of the best collections in which to find it:

WARRIOR’S DAWN

This first collection, which features the first ten stories ever published for the strip, is essential reading when it comes to diving into the mythical world of Sláine

Setting the stage for decades to come, Tir Nan Og (“the Land of the Young”) is a violent, malicious place where the Earth Tribes worship their gods and fight amongst each other. Among those tribes are the Sessair — the bravest and most skilled warriors of all of the tribes; but none so skilled as the young and arrogant barbarian by the name of Sláine MacRoth. This first collection sees Sláine, newly banished from the tribe, discovering the horrors of the world alongside his dwarf companion Ukko, including dragons, the wrath of a scorned druness, a burning wicker man, sky chariots, and the introduction of none other than the evil Lord Weird Slough Feg.

Written by Pat Mills and illustrated by a host of incredible and iconic artists (including Angie Kincaid, Ace Trucking Co.’s Massimo Bellardinelli, and The Last American’s Mick McMahon), the classic tales of Sláine’s origin not only offer a look back at the story’s humble beginning, but act as a cornerstone for everything awaiting down the line. 

SLÁINE: THE KING

Concluding stories found in the second collection in the series, Time Killer, Sláine The King looks deeper into the depths and breadths of Mills’ worldbuilding when it comes to Tir-Nan-Og and its tribal inhabitants. With Sláine and Ukko now travelling with a druidess named Nest, the group finds itself heading back to the Slaine’s tribe, the Sessair, who are now under the thumb of conquerors from the North. After a ritual that chooses Sláine above all else to rule as King, he prepares his people for the battles ahead, ridding their land and their people of their oppressive invaders. 

With Glenn Fabry, David Pugh, and Mike Collins at the artistic helm, the story is anything but slow-moving. Accompanied by Mills’ skilled mixture of fantasy and Celtic lore, the gods and goddesses — good, bad, and everything in between — are further fleshed out and present in such a way that makes the world in which we know Sláine to be a part of just that much more real as a reader. 

THE HORNED GOD

Above all else, Sláine: The Horned God is still, nearly 30 years later, regarded as one of the most impressive and masterful works of British comics — and for good reason! Fully painted by artist Simon Bisley in a way that can only be described as awe-inspiring through a combination of kinetic photo-realism and exaggerated perspective, The Horned God has the wonderful benefit of standing alone in all its glory while not requiring its readers to have prior knowledge of the Sláine back catalogue. 

Originally spanning three volumes, this Sláine collection is true fantasy from start to end, with Slaine first overcoming the Formian sea demons threatening Tir-Nan-Og and the Earth Goddess; only to face his greatest challenge that, if successful, would give him control of nature itself and become the new Horned God — a prominent figure among Gaulish and Irish mythology. 

Far beyond the previous stories of fighting dragons or escaping death at the hands of a simple foe, The Horned God broadens the cast of Sláine characters — including its villains— into something larger than life and utterly engrossing. To say you should read The Horned God may be a misnomer, as many would agree that it’s not so much a book to be read, but one to be experienced. 

DEMON KILLER

Demon Killer sees Pat Mills taking Sláine in an entirely unexpected direction, as Earth Goddess Danu sends the hero through time to defend the future Tir-Nan-Og – or Ireland, as we know it – from the threat of Roman invasion, with his old foe Elfric leading the charge on behalf of Caesar. Reinventing the strip while maintaining the magic of what came before, Demon Killer is a bold step that broadens the definition of just what Sláine could be, even as it similarly expands the appeal of the strip to readers of all kinds.

Mills doesn’t manage this amazing trick alone, of course; he’s aided by a rogues gallery of some of 2000 AD’s greatest artists in the process, with Glenn Fabry, Dermot Power, Judge Dredd’s Greg Staples, and even V for Vendetta co-creator David Lloyd all providing breathtaking fully-painted artwork on this time-bending trip that rewrites history to make it that much more exciting – and far more filled with gods, demons, and axe-centric carnage, as well. Destruction on this kind of mythical scale has rarely looked better. 

DRAGONTAMER

In a way that feels almost a little too timely, the collection of Sláine: Dragontamer is at heart a story about rebellion and pushing back against oppression. Delving into new parts of history previously left untapped within the ever-expanding Sláine universe, Mills continues to stretch the reign of Sláine across the European map in a way that feels like fierce and fantastical alternate folklore, made possible by artist Leonardo Manco, whose line-work and attention to detail brings dynamic new life to the stories of old. 

Now facing off against the Trojans, it’s up to Sláine to lead the revolt against the tyrannical Emperor Brutus, whose rule over the people of Albion (which is to say, Britain) has gone on far too long. After traveling to New Troy with his companions and bringing the fight to Brutus’ door, Sláine discovers — after dealing with both fire breathing dragons and a dungeon filled with unspeakable secrets — that Brutus’ plague of terror is far worse than even he imagined. 

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Kiss My Axe: who’s who in Sláine?

Sláine: Kiss My Axe! is the brand new skirmish tabletop miniatures game, set in the world of Sláine – out this week from Warlord Games! Based on the legendary comic book by Pat Mills and Angela Kincaid, axes and swords clash whilst Earth and Sour magic lash out across the Land of the Young, as the Earth Tribes of the goddess Danu battle the decaying Drune Lords and the relentless Fomorian Sea Demons.

ORDER THE SLÁINE: KISS MY AXE GAME NOW >>

With nearly 40 years of storytelling as its core, it only makes sense that you might be wanting to know just who’s who!

Slaying ancient evils, swinging axes, ruling kingdoms, and conquering invaders might seem like any ordinary fantasy tale from the past few centuries, but with the help of some truly top-tier writers and artists, and real-life Celtic mythology to draw from, Sláine and his band of characters are far from run of the mill. If you’re looking  to catch up on just who you’ll be dealing with when it comes to Warlord’s new skirmish game, there’s no better place to start than the heavy-hitters of Sláine’s own pantheon. 

SLAINE MAC ROTH

Armed with his stone axe Brainbiter, a lust for blood, and the ability to channel the power of the very Earth itself into his “warp spasm” – the ability to transform into a near-unstoppable monstrosity – Sláine Mac Roth is a mighty dark-haired warrior of the Sessair tribe in ancient Ireland. 

Exiled as a teenager following the discovery of an illicit affair with the chief’s fiancee Niamh, Sláine’s adventures have brought him face to face with dragons, time travel, gods and goddesses, and a world full of blood-splattered adventure alongside trusted sidekick Ukko. As if that weren’t enough, he has also been sent across time by the Earth Goddess Danu to defend his homeland against various historical threats, including invading Roman, Viking, and Trojan armies; at some point during all of this, he also became the first High King of Ireland as well as the mythical Horned God himself. 

It’s not all been threats that we mere mortals can’t relate to, however. During his 30+ years in the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic, he’s also found time to marry Niamh and become a father. Don’t worry; they didn’t keep him back from warping out and slaughtering all who stand before him when necessary. 

UKKO THE DWARF

While Sláine’s world consists of any number of heroic warriors, beautiful damsels, or unworldly threats, his most loyal companion manages to be exactly none of these things. Instead, Ukko is, to be blunt, Sláine’s cowardly dwarf companion and sidekick. 

Named after the Finnish god, Ukko is anything but godlike, instead acting, most times, as a contrast to Sláine’s bravery and cunning with lecherous commentary and a business-mind that’s greedy for gold; he is, however, appointed as royal jester or “Royal Parasite” upon Slaine’s reign as King of Ireland. Technically the property of Sláine — he was “won” by the hero in a board game — the relationship between the two is closer to one of unspoken respect masked by public contempt and mockery, on both sides.

Despite his shortcomings, Ukko is tasked to record and chronicle Slaine’s adventures and mishaps, and is responsible for the majority of the strip’s narration. That’s not to say that he doesn’t have ambitions of his own, whether its to amass as much wealth as possible through whatever means possible (preferably thievery) or to own and manage his own tavern, giving him access to as much drink and women as he can handle. 

THE LORD WEIRD SLOUGH FEG

Ruler of the mythical land of Tir Nan Og, the Lord Weird Slough Feg was a ruthless beast that resided in the underground Cave of Beasts and fed on children offered by the four tribes of man as tribute for keeping them safe. 

A rotting and decaying figure known as the Horned God and leader of the Skull Sword army, Feg appeared to be a figure none would dare cross… making it all the more notable that Sláine would repeatedly — intentionally and otherwise — stand in the way of his ultimate plan to destroy Tir Nan Og entirely, whether it was preventing a sacrificial killing in Feg’s honor or fighting back the Fomorian Sea Devils working in Feg’s name.

Feg would be killed by Sláine, who had successfully united the four tribes to claim power for themselves, with the hero claiming the title of the Horned God for himself. That wouldn’t be the last the world would see of him, however; he would eventually return, reborn in an alternate timeline to try one more time to destroy his accursed foe.

NIAMH

Despite originally being destined to be the wife of Grudnew, the chief of the Sessair tribe, and kept in a guarded hut so that she may not be seen by other men, the Warrior Queen Niamh is anything but a damsel in distress. 

After a youthful dalliance with Sláine — the act that would both see him banished from the Sessair for years, and see her bearing his child — Niamh was left to raise their son Kai alone in the prison of her solitary hut until Grudnew’s death. Upon Sláine’s return, Niamh eventually softens to him once again despite her anger at his abandonment of her and their child; the two eventually marry and raise Kai together, even if they disagree about whether or not their son should follow in his father’s warrior footsteps. 

Despite being raped and murdered by Moloch, an evil commander of the Fomorian Sea Devils, Niamh is still present in the strip after her death, often through Slaine’s time traveling adventures, or her apparent constant reincarnations as figures of English myth and history, including Sister Marian, the love of roguish hero Robin Hood’s life. 

DANU

The Earth Goddess worshiped by all four tribes of Tir Nan Og, Danu rewards the unwavering  faith of her warrior subject Slàine in a number of ways — most notably, by giving him the power to warp into a stronger, more invulnerable form in the heat of battle by channeling the power of the Earth itself. 

One of the true constants in Sláine’s life, Danu doesn’t just watch over him but pushes him through time in order to defend Ireland from numerous threats as her champion. She rarely acts directly in such conflicts, but has on occasion possessed those around Sláine in order to get the job done. 

GET SLÁINE COLLECTIONS HERE >>

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Sláine the Miniatures Game – in stores now!

Sláine: Kiss My Axe! is a skirmish tabletop miniatures battle game for two or more players set in the fantasy world created by the legendary comic creators Pat Mills and Angela Kincaid.

Join Sláine as he attempts to unite the Earth Tribes of the goddess Danu to battle the decaying Drune Lords and the relentless Fomorian Sea Demons.

BUY NOW >>

In Sláine, players take control of a small band of Earth Tribe, Drune, or Fomorian warriors as they fight for glory and survival in the mist-shrouded lands of Tir Nan Og and beyond. This starter set contains scenery, tokens, cards and all the rules you need to play, including scenarios, advanced rules and profile lists to create your warbands such as the heroes of the Earth Tribes and Drune Lords included in this set and much more…

The Sláine Miniatures Game, penned by Andy Chambers & Gav Thorpe, is the third of Warlord Games’ 2000 AD offerings. Unlike the sci-fi-infused ranged-combat that dominates Strontium Dog and Judge Dredd, Sláine is more concerned with the clash of sword & axe and opposing magics!

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Kiss My Axe: who is Sláine Mac Roth?

To say that Sláine has left a mark on 2000 AD’s history would be an emphatically large understatement.

The Celtic warrior of myth created by Pat Mills and Angie Kincaid in the early years of the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic has been a staple fan favorite ever since his debut, creating a whole new world in which to grow in – assuming, of course, you survive the barbarian hordes, supernatural threats and warp monsters along the way.

Sláine: Kiss My Axe! is the brand new skirmish tabletop miniatures battle game from Warlord Games, set in the world of Sláine – and it’s out this week!

ORDER THE SLÁINE: KISS MY AXE GAME NOW >>

With the game’s release, it’s the perfect opportunity to dive into what exactly makes the iconic Horned God and his magical legacy such an enduring part of the 2000 AD mythos… 

What exactly is Slaine?

A barbarian fantasy rooted in Celtic myths, fables, and history, the first Sláine strip appeared in 1983’s 2000 AD Prog 330, created by writer Pat Mills and his then-wife, illustrator Angie Kincaid. Inspired as much by the high fantasy of writers such as Robert E. Howard – whose Conan the Barbarian had already demonstrated the potential for comic book success of fantasy material – as real-life and mythical and figures, Sláine was named for the first high king of Ireland, Sláine mac Dela, although his adventures went further than historical re-enactments; Mills and Kincaid’s axe-swinging hero would face off against dragons and gods alike, fueled only by his righteous anger and ability to “warp spasm,” transforming himself into an unstoppable warrior monster.

An immediate hit with readers, the series quickly became a regular fixture of 2000 AD throughout the 1980s, with artists including Ace Trucking Company’s Massimo Bellarinelli, Judge Dredd’s Mike McMahon, and Preacher cover artist Glenn Fabry following Kincaid in subsequent runs, as Mills continually upped the ante in terms of adventure and mayhem told through a mythological lens. It was the epic 1989 Sláine: The Horned God run, which featured fully-painted artwork from ABC Warriors’ Simon Bisley, that transformed the strip’s fortunes forever, though; the combination of Bisley’s beautiful, Frank Frazetta-inspired artwork and Mills’ ambitious writing combining to create one of the most successful and critically acclaimed stories in 2000 AD’s history to date.

Even as The Horned God revolutionized what readers expected from 2000 AD as the anthology headed into the 1990s – Bisley’s painted artwork spawned countless imitators and followers, attempting to scale the same heights he’d seemingly effortlessly reached – it redefined what Sláine could achieve. Subsequent series, which featured painted and digital art from the likes of a returning Glenn Fabry, Clint Langley, Simon Davis, and — most recently — Leonardo Manco maintained the epic scope of what Bisley and Mills had managed, with Mills taking his warrior king deeper into Celtic myth and beyond. 

At its best, Sláine offers something more than the traditional high-fantasy sword and sorcery stories that had become prevalent in comics before him: a foot in the door of real — and truly magical —  mythology. Researched and molded by Mills to reflect genuine myth as well as the adventure and fantasy readers craved, Slaine finds itself nestled among the best when it comes to historical fantasy in comics history. 

Sláine the character himself, however, has become far larger than just his creators…

What is Sláine about?

The saga of Sláine captures the stories of warring Celtic tribes and their people in Tir Nan Og — the ‘Land of the Young’; one of them being the Sessair, Sláine Mac Roth’s tribe that is as brutal in battle as they are unmatched — all of whom worship the earth Goddess Danu. Like many of his kind, Sláine possesses the power of the “warp spasm,” or the ability to channel the powers of the earth to become a monstrous, and wildly powerful berserker… a power that drives much of the tales of Sláine’s battle endeavors. 

The stories themselves, however, are narrated by Sláine’s companion: a surly, cowardly dwarf by the name of Ukko. While Ukko is often a thorn in Slaine’s side, his recountings lay the groundwork for the Sláine we come to know: an arrogant but proficient warrior, whose banishment from his tribe – he is sent away as the result of his romance with the Sessair king’s wife to-be – would begin a series of adventures unlike any the world had ever seen before. 

Not everything can be wandering and wildness though, as the land of Tir Nan Og is fraught with dangers, including dragons, mercenaries, and the wrath of a disappointed sacrificial maiden. Sláine eventually returns to Sessairian land to find his wife and lover, Niamh, the woman for whom he was banished, had given birth to his son Kai in his absence. Family life wasn’t the kind of thing to settle him down, however and Sláine becomes king of the Sessair and leads them to rise up against their oppressors, sea demons who call themselves the Fomorians (based on the supernatural race of Irish mythology). As if that revolution wasn’t enough, his victories continued as he soon united the Earth tribes against his primary foe, Lord Weird Slough Feg, whose reign of ancient evil has hovered like a cloud over his adventures. Upon Slough Feg’s death, Sláine’s devotion to the goddess of Earth leads him to become the new incarnation of the Horned God – a variation of Cernunnos in the Gaulish pantheon – and the first king of Ireland. 

That wasn’t the end of the story, however; with a reign that ends with the Earth Goddess sending him traveling through time to fight alongside Celtic legends such as Boudicca and William Wallace, it should come as no surprise to discover that Sláine’s adventures didn’t simply stop when he became a god. From the search for his son and recovering treasure stolen by Slough Feg’s son to facing down a Trojan army and joining arms with a mind-altering druid, the saga of Sláine not only continues to surprise and ignite only the best of barbarian fantasies, but endures as a testament to the lasting Thrill-power in the art of mythical storytelling. 

GET SLÁINE COLLECTIONS HERE >>

As part of 2000 AD‘s 45th birthday celebrations, graphi novel editor Oliver Pickles about the saga of Sláine, one of his most famous creations…